A Dying Dynasty: Why the Window Has Closed for the New England Patriots
The consensus "Team of the Decade" in the 2000's was the New England Patriots. They won three Super Bowls and came within about 35 seconds of having the greatest team of all time in 2007.
They had a dominant defense throughout those 10 years and one of the top quarterbacks in the history of the NFL with Tom Brady.
However, New England has hit hard times, with the entire core of their stellar defense gone and emerging troubles on the offensive side of the ball.
The 2007 Patriots were the greatest offense in the history of football. They scored the most touchdowns, most points, and had the league MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
They were undefeated, 18-0, entering Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants. We all know the Giants shocked the world and beat the Patriots.
Since that Super Bowl, the vaunted Pats' offense has slowly been depleted of all the things that made it great in '07.
Randy Moss has already seemed to have mentally checked out of this year, saying it will be his last in New England.
Wes Welker tore his ACL in the final game of the regular season last year, and it's unlikely he'll make a full recovery in time to return to his normal spectacular self by the season opener.
The great Patriot offensive line is missing its Pro Bowl guard in Logan Mankins, who has started every game in his five-year NFL career, due to a holdout that could go into the regular season, and Mankins' backup, Nick Kaczur, is out indefinitely with an injured back.
Belichick and Co. blew up the defense last offseason, and it showed last year. While they still finished all right statistically, the defense was just not the same without the core of veteran leadership the Patriots have exhibited since the early 2000s.
In addition to not being experienced, injuries have ravaged the Patriots. Safety Rodney Harrison was forced to retire due to a torn right quad on a Monday Night Game against the Denver Broncos in 2008.
Injuries have hurt New England even as recently as Thursday night, when stalwart defensive end Ty Warren was placed on injured reserve to due a hip problem.
The defense is inexperienced, and while talented, it will take a while for this unit to gel together and learn how to play as a complete, team-first defense such as the Patriots did in their Super Bowl years.
Tom Brady and the offense are aging and having troubles in the place no team can afford to have problems: on the offensive line.
If this is indeed Moss' last season in New England, the Patriots will once again be searching for the No. 1 receiver that made their offense historically great.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be remembered as two of the greatest at their respective positions, but as for the Patriots right now, it's time to rebuild.
Sorry, Pats fans, but the dynasty is, as Charles Dickens once so eloquently put it, dead as a doornail.
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