BY KEVIN FLANAGAN
Hey hey, my my, remember when you thought this Patriots run would never die?
What was widely billed as a fifth preseason game against the Buffalo Bills turned out to be a struggle for their collective football lives as the Patriots offense has not so much burned out as it has faded away. And you can thank one man for that, Bill Belichick.
The king may not be gone but it seems he has forgotten what wins in the NFL. Talent. Long ago he was lulled into believing that he was smarter than anyone in the game when he cut the likes safety Lawyer Malloy in 2003 before the season opener and when he traded wide receiver Deion Branch in 2005 over a contract extension issue. That is because he had a roster full of veterans like Troy Brown, Willie McGinest, and Tedy Bruschi in his locker room already.
I have news for you Bill, those guys are not walking through that door and if they did they would be old and gray and carrying a microphone asking questions you might not want to hear. Not to mention they weren’t drafted or signed by you.
Lets face it there is no excuse for Wes Welker not being on this Patriots team other than Bill Belichick’s ego. Instead of signing the most productive and resilient receiver in the NFL over the last 5 seasons who obviously thrived in this offense, coach Bill opted to go with Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman as the team’s lead wide receivers neither of which has shown the ability to remain on the field longer than the leaves remain on the trees each fall.
His inexplicable unwillingness to pay for production is maddening. Lets not forget that since they decided to let Branch go in 2005 over a couple million dollars and Asante Samuel for a similar reason in 2007 they haven’t won a thing. Does anyone else remember Reche Caldwell dropping key passes in the AFC Championship game in Indianapolis in 2006? Even the biggest hooded honks have got to realize at some point when you don’t pay for this they will give you that.
And in this case that is not a lot.
Add to that his odd obsession of trading down in the draft to hoard picks that more times than not have resulted in unproductive players who fail to make an impact. Do you think this Patriots team could use a pass rusher like Clay Matthews? Apparently Bill doesn’t as he traded the pick used to select him to Green Bay for “value”.
Instead of surrounding what could be arguably one of the top two quarterbacks to ever play this game with talent and chasing more championships than any other franchise in history he has been on a mission to show the football world that he is the smartest guy in the room and can do more with less.
The result has a squander of epic proportions as the once widely considered defensive genius has selected and coached a defense that has ranked in the bottom of the NFL consistently for the last 5 years and he now seems to have stripped the team’s once prolific offense of its most productive piece due to his inability to do what he asks all his players to do when they walk into the locker room.
Check his ego at the door.
As a result Tom Brady is now faced with making chicken salad out of chicken manure much like he was in 2006. The difference is he no longer has a premier defense he can rely on and oh yeah, he is not 29 anymore he is 36.
The king may not be gone but his legacy is rotting. His unwillingness to burn out his options to chase championships and there by allowing one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game to have his golden years turn to rust is something Patriots fans may long regret.
It may be early but is not out of the question to think that their only hope now is that there is more to this picture than meets the eye. Hey hey, my my…