Will people never learn? There’s absolutely no reason for panic when it comes to what’s happening with the New England Patriots.
Warning: Do not forecast doom and gloom for the NFL’s reigning dynasty, the New England Patriots.
Dating back to the start of the 2001 season, the Patriots have dealt with their fair share of adversity. Yet over that span, the team has missed the playoffs only twice and still hasn’t posted a losing record since Bill Belichick’s inaugural campaign as head coach of the franchise in 2000.
Of course, this is a run born out of setbacks. Two games into the ’01 season, the Pats were winless and watched their starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, go down at home in a loss to the New York Jets. Enter sixth-round pick/backup Tom Brady. Then throw in a hard-hitting defense as well as quality special teams, an assist from a rule that has since been modified and some clutch kicks and the Pats were off and running.
It’s astonishing to think that this franchise has made eight Super Bowl appearances over the last 17 seasons. Belichick, Brady and a slew of other quality players combined to win five of those games. And even in the pair of losses to the New York Giants (42 and 46) and most recently, the Philadelphia Eagles (52), it came down to late in the fourth quarter. All eight of the team’s Super Bowls over this span have been decided by single digits. It’s hard not to admire that kind of consistency.
There have been nine straight AFC East titles and 17 consecutive winning campaigns. Epic numbers that defy what the free agency era has truly been for the NFL. And regardless of who they have lost, who they have cut, who they have dealt and who they have saw lost for the season, the winning continues.
So when you look at this year’s comings and goings for the defending AFC champions, should the franchise be truly worried?
Saturday afternoon, ESPN’s Field Yates reported that the Dallas Cowboys were signing Patriots’ tackle Cameron Fleming. With the loss of veteran Nate Solder to the New York Giants earlier this month, Brady’s starting tackles in Super Bowl 52 are now elsewhere.
So is the team’s leading rusher, Dion Lewis, who paced New England with 10 total touchdowns as a runner (six), pass-catcher (three) and kickoff return artist (one). He and cornerback Malcolm Butler (not a starter in Super Bowl 52) are now members of the Tennessee Titans.
But wait, there’s more.
Wideout Danny Amendola led New England with 26 catches, good for 348 yards and two touchdowns during the team’s three-game playoff run this past year. Now he’ll get to see Brady at least twice a season as he suits up for the Miami Dolphins. He hauled in eight passes for 152 yards in February’s loss to the Birds.
Of course, it’s not like the Pats have stood…pat.
Trades have brought defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Jason McCourty (safety Devin’s brother) from Cleveland. New England also acquired wide receiver/kickoff return artist Cordarrelle Patterson from the Oakland Raiders. They added defensive end Adrian Clayborn, running back Jeremy Hill and offensive lineman Matt Tobin in free agency. And the draft is a little over a month away.
Yes, if you indeed feel it is time to panic when it comes to the New England Patriots, then go right ahead. Have a good time. It may even be some wishful thinking on the part of a part of 31 other fan bases around the NFL. Just keep in mind that it is indeed late March
Don’t say you weren’t warned.