The New England Patriots as a franchise are sinking. The franchise that for 20 years dominated the AFC and for a good part of that time entire NFL has fallen on hard times. And what’s worse, they have fallen just enough to be mediocre, the curse of any NFL franchise.
The reason in the near term was the jettisoning of the all-time best NFL quarterback and player, Tom Brady, who was still performing at a very high level. Whatever, TB12 should have rightly been allowed to retire of his own volition whenever he chose, as a New England Patriot.
The onus for that inexplicable and indefensible gaffe rests solely on the shoulders of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and his football majordomo, Bill Belichick, himself, a product of the greatness of Brady, and not the reverse.
That being what it is, the franchise has fallen inexorably into mediocrity and it’s appropriate to take a look at how and why this once proud NFL dynasty post-TB12 has fallen so dramatically.
The New England Patriots’ personnel operation remains deficient
Tom Brady was the Great Safety Valve of pro football players. Whatever gaffes the Bill Belichick-led operation made, TB12 for almost 20 years was there to save them from themselves.
Neglect to provide great receivers for such a talented quarterback (which should have been the absolute Job 1 of every offseason)? No problem. TB12 would turn mediocre ones into good ones and good ones into at times, great ones. Great ones, became all-time greats.
Draft poorly for umpteen years, year after year? Again, TB12 was there to the rescue to save the day, and the season, and if the Patriots happened to have even a good defense, get you to an AFC Championship game or Super Bowl.
There was nothing that couldn’t be accomplished it seems if you had the greatest quarterback in NFL history captaining the ship. And make no mistake about it, whoever was the official “captain(s)”, TB12 was the de facto captain.
New England Patriots post-TB12
In the past almost three seasons (is it really that long?), the Patriots have lost their way. They were 7-9 in 2020 under the quarterbacking of Cam Newton. But hold on, Cam is a hero, nothing less.
Cam was an underappreciated contributor to a 2020 Covid-19 devastated season in which the team went 7-9, could have easily been 9-7 with better coaching and was competitive if not in any way of championship caliber. It was no fault of Cam Newton, the team’s 2020 MVP who battled through COVID-19 with a terrible team to get those seven wins.
In 2021, in came Mac Jones who displaced Cam for the No.1 quarterback role and his position on the team as well. Jones performed well in a Josh McDaniels-led Patriots offense and the team made the playoffs.
Unfortunately, after leading the AFC East and indeed the entire AFC for a brief moment, the wheels fell off the overachieving team and they were summarily blown out and blown away by the Buffalo Bills. Jones and the team flopped when it mattered most, in crunch time. It was one-and-done in the playoffs.
In 2022, things have gotten worse. The team lost McDaniels and installed a defensive specialist, Matt Patricia to run the offense. Go figure. The results were predictable.
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There has been dysfunction throughout, dissatisfaction even by Mac Jones (and others), and the playoff team has devolved into an also-ran that needs great assistance to even reach the previous year’s Wild Card position.
The New England Patriots post-TB12 have failed
To sum up the current state of affairs, the New England Patriots have regressed to the norm. What was once an annual first-place finish in the AFC East looks increasingly now likely to be a last-place one. The effort to replace Tom Brady while initially realizing some success has failed.
Mac Jones has had an abysmal second year when the proverbial Bill Bellichick “leap” is supposed to take place. Rather than a leap forward, Jones has regressed dramatically.
The team’s personnel operation has continued to flounder as tens of millions of owner Robert Kraft’s funds have been squandered on free agents who can’t play.
If the Patriots miraculously make the playoffs this season, expect a quick elimination once again in the Wild Card game. This team isn’t what it once was. And in fact, it never was what it was purported to be.
The success, all of it, was the creation of the greatest quarterback who ever played the game, Tom Brady. And all other pretensions have now been exposed for what they truly are, mirages.
As they say in Foxborough, it is what it is. And what it is now is mediocrity. It’s time to acknowledge that fact once and for all. It was Tom Brady all the time,