Why The Patriots Won’t Die
One of my first football memories was Mo Lewis knocking Drew Bledsoe the fuck out. It was early in the 2001 season and the Jets just clipped the best quarterback in the division. The Jets went on to win that game 10–3 and while Bledsoe tried to come back in it was obvious he was going to be shelved. Little did myself and fellow Jets fans know, this opened the door for Tom Brady.
I can go on for years of how much I hate the Patriots. They have been the best team in football for a majority of my football watching career. Since 2000 (when I started really watching) I have only seen one Jets division title. The Patriots have won 13. In 2008 when Tom Brady shredded his ACL in the first game. Matt Cassel took over and the Patriots still went 11–5.
No matter who goes down — whether its Brady, Rob Gronkowski, or sixty-percent of the offensive line — it doesn’t seem to derail them. For years I have directed my anger towards Brady, but this season made me realize something I should have known for 16 years. It’s not Tom Brady. It’s not Rob Gronkowski. It’s not Robert Kraft. It’s the hooded mastermind, Bill Belichick.
He’s a man of few words and many wins. It’s not a stretch to say he’s one of the five best coaches in NFL history, it’s the truth. He has perfected a system in New England that can work with any moving parts. Whether the parts are made of gold (Brady, Gronk, Randy Moss, Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork) or of scrapheap (Cassel, Troy Brown, Laurence Maroney) Belichick’s system runs the same.
Takeaway Wes Welker, plug in Julian Edelman. Aaron Hernandez turns out to be a mass murder, it’s okay trade for Martellus Bennett. Lose Revis back to the Jets, insert Malcolm Butler. Dion Lewis goes down? Don’t worry they have James White. I can go on for literal days with this. The players do matter, but nothing comes before the system. There’s a reason Belichick is so shrewd in contract negotiations and why he loves to stock up on draft picks. To him they are all parts. Necessary parts, but replaceable.
The mettle of that system has never been pushed like it has in the infant stages of the 2016 campaign. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has gone out of his way to take down Brady for four games. Rob Gronkowski hasn’t played a snap. Dion Lewis is shelved until Week 10. The Patriots are still 2–0 and in first place.
Once Brady returns expect the offense to climb back into the league’s elite — Jimmy G already had them near the top without Gronk — and expect a seventh straight AFC East title. And if the team suffers another big injury? Don’t worry Belichick will plug someone you’ve never heard of and be just fine.