The 2013 NFL Free Agency Frenzy is starting to settle down as the big names in free agency are steadily finding new homes. While last week was an exhilarating week as many New England Patriots fans found themselves riding strapless in a rollercoaster, the stop came abruptly and tough with the departure of Wes Welker. It was also a surprise to see Pats Nation beloved running back Danny Woodhead go with the San Diego Charges as many had perceived that both sides wanted to spend another season together.
Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the second half of the AFC divisional round playoff game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Along with every loss (Patrick Chung to Philadelphia Eagles, Donald Thomas to Indianapolis Colts, Brandon Lloyd – released), there is always a gain (wide receiver Danny Amendola from St. Louis Rams, wide receiver Donald Jones from Buffalo Bills, running back Leon Washington from Seattle Seahawks, safety Adrian Wilson from Arizona Cardinals, offensive tackle Will Svitek from Atlanta Falcons), also the re-signing of cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Aqib Talib and linebacker Niko Koutouvides).
Potential deals with defensive ends John Abraham and Dwight Freeney may come into a conclusion – whatever is in the “best interest of the team”. Also the possibility that the Patriots may snatch restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders from Pittsburgh Steelers is a possibility that many Patriots fans are wondering what the offense will look like with a Amendola-Sanders duo.
In the beginning of free agency, many were complaining the New England Patriots were being quiet and passive, whereas the Miami Dolphins were spending and buying big names free agents and other teams were in “free agency mode” as perceived to be the norm. It’s worth to remember Bill Belichick’s philosophy when it pertains to the other 31 teams in the league.
“I’m not really worried about the other 31 teams.”
While Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead leaving were hard-to-believe facts, it should not be perceived as lack of aggressiveness or smartness by the Patriots organization or head coach Bill Belichick. Take for example the smart move coach Belichick did in not putting a franchise tag on Aqib Talib ($10 million dollar) but analyzing the cornerback market in free agency – and guess what? we got to re-sign him on a one-year deal worth $5 million.
It’s also worth to be mindful that coach Bill Belichick is the coach that has placed the team in the right track with
- Three Super Bowl championships in a four-year span – Super Bowl XXXVI (2001) Super Bowl XXXVIII (2003) and Super Bowl XXXIX (2004)
- Five conference titles (2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011)
- Nine divisions crowns
- 16 playoff victories
- The only NFL head coach to lead his team to a 16-0 regular season
- Five Super Bowl appearances; winning three
- Led the Patriots to an overall winning streak of 21 consecutive games, including the postseason, and unmatched in NFL records
- Since 2009, the Patriots have maintained their spot on top the NFL teams in terms of regular season winning percentage and regular season scored
- Patriots have the NFL’s highest winning percentage and scored the most points since the beginning of the 2010 season
- Patriots have the second-best winning percentage and scored the most points since 2011.
So, before we criticize or doubt the reason behind coach Belichick’s decisions, we should be thoughtful that he is one of the best (the best in my opinion) head coach in the league. As Scott Pioli said last Wednesday on NFL Network,
“and here’s the thing about Bill, just when you think you have the answer, he changes the question.”
What I admire and respect the most about Belichick is his intelligence of the football game and his fearless actions. From my own observations and from my readings on books about Belichick (Patriot Reign and War Room by Michael Holley, and The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam) his goal is to always perfect the game and to do better than last time. Sometimes in order to do that, it takes a fearless move. And let me tell you, each year we are a step closer to winning another championship.
I like that. I would rather take a calculated-courageous step forward and see what happens, than to wonder “what if I had done that”. And yes, that comes to mind the so-talked-about 4th and 2 call in the game against the Indianapolis Colts. Had the play worked, everyone would have seen the call as a “genius call”, but because it was inches short from first-down, everyone calls it a “bad call”.
Many will disagree and some will agree to disagree with Belichick’s perspective on football – be it on the field, war room or in football operations. But as a Patriots fan, I show support and gratitude for many of the accomplishments and leadership Belichick has brought to this team. Because when it’s all said and done, he knows more football than I (we) could ever dream of knowing.
“In Bill Belichick I Trust.”
Follow Celia Westbrook on Twitter @celiawestbrook