Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots: Where Do They Go From Here?

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 11, 2010


There are many theories on what's with the Patriots, and many are calling this the end of a dynasty. Many talking heads want to make this out to be more than just a playoff loss. Sometimes we need to take a step back and hear what the fans have to say. Of course we always have to filter out the FANATICS from the realistic fans.
Here is the take of my anonymous contributor who is a Patriots Season Ticket Holder, and an unbiased fan who was at yesterday’s game and is able to see things clearly.
Patriots fans - Let the debate begin:


It's easy to overact, which is what everyone is doing. Having high expectations is an honor, but there is something to be said for the “nobody believes in us” theory.

Specific to yesterdays game, it was disappointing. Brady played terribly, the defense was further exposed, there didn’t appear to be that fight, the “you punch us, we punch you” mentality from anyone aside from maybe Edelman, Faulk and Wilfork. Really the better team won. Going into the game if you told me Baltimore would win, I would have said that I can definitely envision a lot of scenarios where Baltimore walks out victorious. I hated that they were the team we had to face. Never would have expected such a flat effort, and in some ways it was not that surprising. All year there has been talk about commitment, toughness and leadership. Not surprisingly, the pats acknowledged that they had a terrible practice session on Thursday, the most important day of on field practice. Tough way to end the season, and here on my thoughts on how we got to where we (The Patriots) are:

Losses in coaching and personnel department. One thing I don’t hear anyone talking about is how the coaching and personnel staff has been decimated by losses to other teams. Romeo, Weis, Mangini, McDaniels, Pioli, Dimitroff are just some of the names. The only true outside hire was the new Special Teams coach this year and Floyd Reese. In short, Belichick is spread out too thin. At least in McDaniels’ first year, he had Mangini on defense so he could groom McDaniels. He is all over the place right now, coaching, personnel decisions, etc. It's important that Floyd Reese and Pepper Johnson are kept on the staff. Regardless, having an offseason to evaluate and try and groom new coaches is important, and assessing the staff and adding new pieces with experience is obviously necessary. The individual aspects of the team are not getting the right attention. Providing the right attention to each aspect will aid in the development in players but also leaders. Belichick has to do better in this area, and it will help the creativity on both sides of the ball especially offensively where there needs to be more versatility. The offense used to be so unpredictable, and it used to be so creative, and now it is stagnant. This will dramatically improve the development of players, and hopefully Belichick recognizes this and will address it.

Injuries happen to every team, but the eye test tells me a lot of people were hurting, namely Brady. He didn’t break the pocket to run at all. He was horrible, his decision making was terrible, and he looked confused out there. All the credit has to go to Baltimore, they were awesome on defense. When you have a marginal defense, you can’t afford to turn the ball over and put them in unfavorable situations. Jerod Mayo did not look like the rookie of the year he was last year, perhaps that injury in week 1 affected him all year, but it is also a product of poor line play in a two gap system. Gary Guyton was okay this year and maybe he has a future at ILB, but a serious upgrade is needed in this area, and I fully expected a lot of these roles to be filled via veteran FAs.

There is a lot of talent in the secondary that needs to be coached up, and with even an average pass rush, they will be regarded as a much better unit. With that said, they need to upgrade at OLB, and on the defensive front. Offensively the line play needs to be better and something has to be figured out in terms of running back. WR obviously needs better depth, but I am very excited to see what more Edelman can do on this team. Realistically Welker wouldn’t return to game action until Mid-October or November. Brandon Tate will also be returning next year, but a more reliable option has to be sought out at receiver.

With all that said, the talk of the day is the “end of an era.” That is fine, there is nothing to be ashamed about because to have an era that is worthy to be called “over” is awesome. It’s time for a new era, it’s time for new players to make their names. To win multiple championships and be a contender for 8 or 9 years is awesome, so I don’t get offended or bothered when people say “end of an era.” I feel good that we have a great owner in Robert Kraft and a great coach in Bill Belichick. Although Brady isn’t getting any younger, he can play at a high level for another 3-4 years at least, and all the “experts” always talk about how the second year after his type of injury is when things are back to normal.

The offseason should be really interesting. There are sure to be lots of changes, as there usually are. Wilfork has to be locked up (he will be franchised at the very least), Logan Mankins is an restricted free agent, and I expect Brady to get a new contract. They have a lot of draft picks to work with, and it will be very interesting to see what happens with the Union situation as that will probably be the back drop for many of the moves made. Jarvis Green is also a free agent, and he has been a solid contributor off the bench since he has been here, but perhaps he isn’t suited for an every down role.

At the end of the day, the season was a disappointment. However, how often can you win your division, host a playoff game and say it’s a disappointment?

Reshaping your team is an inevitability and it takes time and there are frustrations. Look at teams like the Steelers who reinvented/shaped themselves multiple times just under Cowher. There is no reason to panic about a tailspin, or as some fans are. Some fans are claiming that they should look at changing head coach because the players are not reacting to him anymore. Belichick and Brady didn’t have their finest years and they do deserve blame, however, they are both two of the best at what they do, and they will bounce back. They have certainly earned the right for people to trust them in the long run.

People still talk about losing Vrabel and Seymour, which again is a legitimate point, but the writing was on the wall that they had to reshape things on that side of the ball, and I am glad Belichick keeps the present and the future in mind. They would have helped, but they wouldn’t have been the difference between a win and loss yesterday against the Ravens

Final sound: It’s time for a new decade of Patriots football, and I am looking forward to it, and I look forward to this team making a new name for itself. You have to earn respect and they earned it for many years and now have lost it, and that’s part of the fun of sports. There are a lot of good pieces on this team to start with, it does not have to be blown up and started over. A lot of people, fans and media alike jump to conclusions, when the reality is that things change and nothing lasts forever. It’s a matter of maintaining competitiveness during a period of dramatic change, so far they have done that for the most part, and it will continue into next season. The schedule looks tough, but what better way, what better opportunity to recommit yourself and make new marks and earn a new level of respect than to face good teams and compete with them.