Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Patriot fans' fully anticipate to march into the Black Hole this weekend and put on an aerial show that leads to a decisive bounce-back victory over the Oakland Raiders. Don’t bet on it.
After watching coach Belichick’s one-trick pony offense lose last week against the Buffalo Bills, and then the week before survive a hapless red zone San Diego Charger offense, I am suspicious. I suspect that the more likely scenario is that Tom Brady and the Patriots will leave the Oakland Coliseum with a big fat black-eye, and some bruised egos to go. That’s a loss Patriot fans.
I wrote previously on the postseason woes the Patriots were having and why they could expect the same thing this year unless they made some strategic changes. I had little doubt about the Pats making the postseason.
I was always curios why NFL teams never seem to use the proven defensive formula (click postseason link) to snatch victory from the “pass-only” Patriots in the regular season. However, I am getting the sense that this is about to change. Call me clairvoyant if I am right—or just another fool if I am wrong.
Last Sunday’s shoot-out loss to the up-start Bills has made me reconsider the gratuitous affection I offered in my previous article to the Patriots dynamic-duo of Brady and Belichick. If the loss to the Bills is any indication, then we are going to see a lot more of the “woe is me” look from Mr. Brady and Co., and playoffs may not even be in the picture.
In fact, I think it may be as my headline indicates. The New England Patriots dynasty seems to be unraveling. The Patriots have not evolved offensively or defensively since their championship years. Much of the league has, and I believe the Raiders will demonstrate that Sunday with a victory. I see Tom Brady having another difficult outing, as I suspect the inspired Raider defense will make Tom feel like some quartered beef hung on a meat-hook by days end.
Should this scenario come to pass, don’t blame Tom Brady. He is doing all he knows to do—sling the ball all day and remain cool under pressure. Blame coach Belichick for apparently either being so consumed with reading his press clippings for the last decade about what a genius he is, or he has just lost his edge. I am not sure. No real running game, no leaders on defense, it’s all on Tom Brady’s arm.
Oddly enough, this New England Patriots team is reminiscent of a dynasty in the sport of hockey: The Pittsburgh Penguins. After winning a couple back-to-back championships with legend Mario Lemieux, they looked as if they had several more Stanley Cups coming with Super Mario. It never materialized because the Penguins strategy was too Mario-centric, similar to how the Patriots are too Brady-centric.
If the New England Patriots lose this Sunday to the Oakland Raiders, I believe we may be witnessing not only a changing of the guard in the AFC East but the beginning of the end for the Belichick/Brady era. If I am right, the next six games will be telling; starting with the Raiders, Jets twice, Cowboys, Steelers, and the Giants.
The ever flowing media bouquets for Tom Brady may no longer be thrown for his glorious play after this season. Instead, the bouquets may be final epitaphs of what was once an unbelievable star QB on a juggernaut of a team, all perfected by a quirky coach, who together could have won a half-dozen Super Bowls instead of three. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be.