13 years ago the New England Patriots made two decisions that would change their franchise and really change the landscape of the entire NFL. The first was they brought in Bill Belichick as their head coach. At this point in time Belichick was not recognized as the “great evil genius” that he now is. Sure he was respected as one of the great defensive minds in the game, but nobody really thought he would gain as much success with the Patriots as he did. The second decision they made was to draft quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. Of course we all know the story of how Brady slid all the way down to the sixth round, and how the Patriots got the best draft steal in NFL history. But at this time nobody could have imagined the success the Patriots would have in the next 13 years . This success included five Super Bowl appearances, three Super Bowl wins, and 136 overall wins. If there has been a better quarterback/coach tandem in the history of the NFL, I would like to see someone try and make an argument for them over BB and Brady because it is pretty hard to top what they have done.
Because both of these guys are still at the top of (or close to) the top of their games, nobody wants to take a look into the future when these two guys are gone. This is understandable because it doesn’t look like these guys will be done anytime soon. I mean they went to the Super Bowl only two short years ago, so why should we worry about when they leave? Five years may seem like a long time in the future but it really is not. It seems like yesterday when Brady went down with a knee injury against the Chiefs, only five short years ago.
When I think about what the Patriots will look like without Brady and Belichick, I keep getting images of Jason from ‘Friday the 13th’ because it is going to be a pretty scary sight. If you look at the teams that New England have had in the last 13 years where would those teams be without Bill or Brady? These teams all were not very talented, but Belichick molded the defense into a top 10 unit, and Brady made those offenses very effective. With the exception of 2007, every Patriot team that was successful was not a very talented one. However the talents of Brady and Belichick were just so good that they were able to take the team to new heights.
Think about how New England will look with a Brady-less offense and a Belichick-less defense. The result is not going to be pretty. Without the mind of Belichick to help the defense employ that “bend but don’t break” tactic, and without Brady to orchestrate one of the most efficient offenses in the league, where does that put the Pats? It sure as hell does not put them back in the Super Bowl. In fact, I think it will take the Patriots quite a bit of time to just get back into the playoffs. Lets face it, New England has been relying on Belichick and Brady for 13 years Their draft classes haven’t been bad, but they haven’t been outstanding either. It is going to take a little bit of time for the Patriots organization to get used to not having Brady and Belichick to lean on. They will have to operate like a normal NFL franchise, and they haven’t done that for quite a long time. As Patriots fans, we make fun of teams like the Jets or the Browns all the time because of their quarterback issues. Well, the Pats may be in that position five years from now (for the record I don’t think they will be anywhere close to the Jets or Browns organization, I have too much respect for Robert Kraft).
The point is, we have been spoiled by the greatness of Bill and Brady for a long time. Eventually they will no longer be here and the Patriots will just be a normal NFL team. No longer will there be that “Patriots mystique” they had because of their dynasty they had in the early 2000′s. The Patriots changed the landscape of the NFL when Brady and Belichick came in. They were the ones the started the up-tempo, quick passing attack that is now a staple in an NFL offense. They were the last real dynasty since the Cowboys ran over the NFL. The two most important positions on a football team are the quarterback, and the coach. The Pats showed that if you can find two guys that can work together like Brady and Belichick can, those two alone can lead your team to greatness. There has yet to be another team that has been able to duplicate what the Patriots have done with BB and Brady. Every team obviously tries to do what the Patriots did, but the fact that no one has been able to just shows you how lucky we as Patriots fans are. When Brady and Belichick are gone, it is going to be tough to get back to the level where the Pats can contend. The Patriots are going to have to figure this out in the next couple of years. Robert Kraft is the best owner in the NFL in my opinion and I have no doubt that eventually he will do this. But it is going to take time, and it will be a shock for Pats fans, and fans across the NFL to see the Patriots as “just another team”.