While the New England Patriots left some plays on the field this season, moves made off the field proved to be what defeated Bill Belichick in 2019.
Not everything Bill Belichick touches turn to gold. That has been proven over the past few seasons and certain in 2019 for a New England Patriots team that was more flawed than their 12-4 record proved during the NFL regular season.
While the defense was near or at the top of the league for the majority of the season, their struggles against the running game was overshadowed by jumping out on teams early and swarming opposing offenses with strong secondary play.
Belichick also had an offense with playmakers like Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown catching the football from Tom Brady. Even that overshadowed the offensive line issues the team had and also the lack of production from the tight end position and the team’s own ground attack.
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So, what went wrong?
Bad luck from the start. The offensive line was hit with key injuries to center David Andrews and left tackle Isaiah Wynn. Fullback James Develin, who was a key component in the ground attack was lost for the season. Then, backup fullback Jakob Johnson was lost for the season.
Even with that, the team jumped out to an 8-0 start and there was even a tease that Rob Gronkowski would come out of retirement to join his pal Brady along with Gordon, Brown and Edelman.
If that happened, who was stopping the New England Patriots even with the issues along the offensive line happened?
That dream quickly faded as Antonio Brown was released due to his ongoing, off-the-field drama and Josh Gordon was placed on IR then released. That forced an NFL Trade deadline deal to acquire Mohamed Sanu for a second-round pick. Well, Sanu ended up being a waste of such a high-round pick…this season anyway.
Could Bill Belichick have done more given his resources and going up against the salary cap?
"“The team was constructed very competitively,” Belichick said during his press conference, via Patriots.com. “I think that was reflected in our overall play during the course of the year. Again, we lost four games that basically came down to the last possession, again, other than the Baltimore game, which that was pretty competitive game, too. So, I think there’s areas in every phase of the game – offense, defense, special teams, running game, passing game, pass rush, pass protection. Wherever you want to go – the coaching, strategy, game planning, decision-making – I mean, all of us.”"
Belichick is right, those losses were competitive. Even with the final score of that Baltimore Ravens loss, the team had control of the game early in the third quarter. Like that game, there were offensive miscues and a lack of execution down the stretch that ended up being the killer for even a Tom Brady led team.
While some would say most of that was due to roster management issues, it really equates to bad luck. Bill Belichick did what he could to surround Tom Brady with weapons on the offensive side. Taking a chance on an Antonio Brown, sticking with Josh Gordon and trading for Mohamed Sanu proved that.
At the end of the day, those players didn’t pan out and help from Rob Gronkowski didn’t happen. The defense dominated until they didn’t. In 2019, Tom Brady didn’t have enough to make up for those times the team needed the offense to execute. Given with what Bill Belichick tried to surround his quarterback with, it wasn’t from a lack of trying.