You hate the Patriots. Yes, I'm talking to you.
You live outside of the New England area. Every time you see Tom Brady, you want to punch yourself in the gonads. Bill Belichick's face makes you want to puke. "You hate us 'cause you ain't us." Ugh. More puke. More gonad self-punching. The word Cheatriots is your life song. You sing a Cheatriots song in the shower. You hashtag everything with it. Even when you tweet about orphans and puppies. Your mom says you're irrational. Your girlfriend says to back away from your phone and stop sending her pictures of deflated footballs. You will not rest until the Patriots are one day terrible. You will. Not. Rest.
I have some bad news for you. It goes like this: The Patriots are going to be great for a while longer. Maybe a lot longer.
The latest rabbit-out-of-a-hat trick came this week when the Patriots traded for tight end Martellus Bennett. This is, easily, one of the best moves the Patriots have made in recent years. It makes an offense that was already loaded almost impossible to stop.
|Martellus Bennett stats|
(Granted, I also thought when the Seahawks traded for Jimmy Graham, their offense would be all the more difficult to game-plan against. I had no idea Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell would drape Graham in a cloak of invisibility. Patriots coaches aren't that dumb. They'll use Bennett properly.)
What this move is about is Belichick recreating what he had with Rob Gronkowski and tight end-turned-convicted-murderer Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots offense then was one of the deadliest in the history of the sport, and Belichick wants to get back to that.
Having two excellent route-running tight ends is, in many ways, better in the modern game than having two top-notch wideouts. The matchup problems two good tight ends create are infinite. Linebackers can't cover them. Safeties barely can. You see it with one tight end in Gronkowski. He obliterates defenses. Now you have a player with a skill level that, while not as high as Gronk's (or Hernandez's), is close. Yes, it's close.
Chris Wesseling @ChrisWesseling
Brady throwing to Gronk, Edelman and Marty B in the red zone? Yikes.2016-3-16 23:13:54
And he has the right mindset, in addition to the skill set. Speaking to reporters after the trade, Bennett said:
I think Gronk has always been an awesome tight end. I look forward to working with him. There are some things he does that I don't do, and I'm pretty sure there are things I do that he doesn't do. We'll challenge and push each other and continue to help us grow as individuals as well as a tandem to do what we can to help the team. ...
We kind of have different styles. I think one thing we both love to do is run with the ball in our hands. For the last couple years, me and him have both been the best at that. He does a lot of good things, making big plays, showing up every week and always being reliable for Tom [Brady]. I'm just trying to come in and do the same thing.
It's important that Bennett has the right attitude here, because that has been a problem in the past. He went all MMA on a teammate in 2014, and there was another incident last season. He skipped last year's offseason program in a contract kerfuffle. Most of the time, though, when formerly disgruntled players go to the Patriots (emphasis on most of the time), they tend to fall in line. Besides, if you had to play most of your career with Jay Cutler, you'd be mad, too.
The Bennett signing is more of an indicator of what the Patriots do. They have Tom Brady, who is 79 years old but plays like he's 25, and Belichick keeps morphing, adapting and scheming. I mean all of that in a good way. No one in the sport today, maybe ever, finds so many different ways to keep a team on top.
Just look at the rest of the division and some of the truly dumbass things other teams have done. The Jets' entire 2012 draft class is gone. Not on a five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, but cut. That is absolutely staggering. The Dolphins, to me, are still a wreck. The Bills aren't great. Other teams do not-so-smart things, while Belichick remains bold and forward-thinking.
He's not perfect. Belichick has made personnel mistakes before. But this is bound to happen when you've coached one organization for 16 years.
Overall, just remember this point: As other organizations and fans wonder when the Patriots Empire will fall, a move like this one is your answer. As long as this team has Brady at quarterback and Belichick working the market like that dude from Billions, there will be no fall. The Byzantines aren't coming over that hill.
This is the part where you anti-Pats people yell, "They cheat and they cheat and, oh yeah, they cheat!"
You hate the Patriots. Yes, I'm talking to you.
Sorry, you will be hating for them for at least a few more years.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.