2020 Hindsight: What’s Next for the Patriots?

-by Dino Scapelli

How strange it is to have barely entered a new year and immediately entered what might be a new era for the New England Patriots.

We have become accustomed to long championship runs by our favorite football team, runs that don’t even begin until the week following the end of this last campaign. The 2019 season is over altogether too soon, without the results most of us expected in the giddy weeks of the 8-0 Patriots and their all-time-best defense and timeless QB. But the fact is that such a spotless start hid some ominous defects that were exposed once the real competition appeared on the schedule. The 2019 Patriots lost five of their last nine games, and only beat two teams with winning records all year. Even when they were winning big in the early season, it was the defense and special teams that provided much of the scoring; the offense never took on the luster of the championship team we had watched for so long. Yes, there were injuries along the offensive line, but there were also obvious shortcomings of the so-called skill position players. And most glaring of all those shortcomings was the frustrating ineffectiveness of legendary quarterback Tom Brady.

Blame it if you will on the beating that favorite wide receiver Julian Edelman took all season, or on the sudden absence of dominant tight end Rob Gronkowski, or on the failure of the blockers to keep Brady’s pocket consistently clean and to open holes for the running backs, but the inability of the aging QB to adapt and to find ways to overcome these problems leads some to conclude that his greatness has waned to the point at which the end of his illustrious career is close at hand. And with his contract ending at the conclusion of the 2019 NFL league year, the team’s management has to make a difficult decision on the future of the greatest sports figure in the history of the New England region. Even if Brady wants to remain playing for the Patriots, is it in the best interests of the franchise to move on to a new leader, and possibly toward a complete change in offensive philosophy? And if that should be their decision, what NFL team will wish to invest the time and money he has asked for on a fading, 43-year-old legend? Is this the end of the glorious road for what many believe is the best quarterback of all time?

The question becomes, whither Brady or wither Brady?

However great he has been for an unprecedented period of success, there is one thing that is now obvious: Tom Brady today can only succeed if everything around him is just right. In the absence of his familiar and brilliant teammates, he is apparently unable to conform to the roster realities around him. He has always struggled to find receivers who can match his understanding of the game, and of the intentions of the opponents, but where many quarterbacks produce with new personalities around them, Brady has been unable to make the complex Patriots offense work with young receivers or with new faces at running back, tight end, and wide receiver. In a way, the genius of what has evolved into such a successful, sophisticated, intellectual offensive attack has trimmed Brady down to a precision instrument so sharp that it will break if used in any other way. If his receivers don’t see exactly what he sees and execute their routes exactly as he envisions them, they cannot make a connection. He can’t run away from pressure, and he has never been effective throwing on the run anyway, so stretching plays until someone finds space in the defensive backfield is only possible if his offensive line can give him tremendous amounts of time. In this offensive system, to which he is perfectly suited in mind and technique, everything has to happen incredibly quickly and incredibly accurately. Those conditions are very hard to create, and this year’s Patriots team lacked the personnel to provide them. In the past, it has proven very difficult to find players who can execute at a high enough level to succeed, so there is no guarantee that such players are going to be added to the roster any time soon; they are nearly impossible to identify, and when found, they must be retained. On this roster, only Julian Edelman and perhaps James White qualify.

So how can the Patriots braintrust provide a winning team for its fans in the face of such difficulty, especially with ingenious offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels possibly leaving for a head coaching position elsewhere, and no qualified successor in place to keep the long tradition alive? Perhaps it is time to move from a system requiring near-perfection toward a system that requires more simple athleticism and brute strength. It would be so much easier to populate a roster than it has become behind McDaniels and Brady.

None of us wants to see Tom Brady play in another uniform. None of us wants to see him struggle in his last year or two. But if he should move to another franchise in order to continue playing for the sake of embodying the promise of the TB12 system of diet and training that is Brady’s business future, he may do just that, especially if he continues to suffer soft tissue injuries like the one he hid for much of the 2019 season. How can he succeed in any other offense? He has become so imbued with the tenets of this precision timing and outthinking system that he would have to forget most of what he has referred to as “knowing all the answers to the test.” Indeed, he may only be able to succeed by following McDaniels to whatever team hires him. Right now, the scuttlebutt is that McDaniels is the frontrunner for the openings in Cleveland and Carolina. The Browns have invested heavily in Baker Mayfield, and so would not likely covet an aging Brady. If McDaniels should opt for Carolina, there may be an opening for a year or two for Brady if McDaniels wants to put his fortunes in the hands of a fading superstar. There is career risk there for the new head coach. If Brady should be forced to choose a new situation and system with strange players around him, is it actually in his interest to continue playing? It could get very unpleasant for his legacy and for his business hopes. And there is a possibility that no team will offer him what he has purportedly demanded in a new contract: multiple years guaranteed.

For both the Patriots and Brady, this will be a very interesting and likely painful offseason, and a very different 2020 season.

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DNOMN8R314
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NEW POST
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dp73
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I am rooting for KC but I think SF has the better OL and DL and that is still where the game is won or lost.

DinoScapelli
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DinoScapelli

The best two teams are in. That is how it should be.

ĥüǧøwàšm̂ÿĥøm̂êbøÿ
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ĥüǧøwàšm̂ÿĥøm̂êbøÿ

Agreed – quality won out today

DinoScapelli
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DinoScapelli

Impressive win by SF. But I still like KC in the Superb Owl.

Jonc77
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Jonc77

Someone said that Jimmy is a game manager just like how Tom was early on.
Tom threw the ball 52 times against the raiders in his first playoff game.
Yeah i know they ran a consevative offense in 2001 but he never threw the ball 8 times.

rking88
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rking88

people throw around “game manager” like its a style of QB… its stupid. All QB’s are game managers because the offense runs through them. Whether they hand it off 50 times or throw it 50 times. Just like saying “system” QB… well yeah… every team has an offensive system. its called: the offense. If you compare what is needed from different QB’s to win games, you’ll see similarities- but to your point jon- more was needed from Tom to win: clutch drives at the end of the games… as opposed to riding an unstoppable run game… but sure… they’re basically… Read more »

Jonc77
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Jonc77

exactly the same no doubt

rking88
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rking88

im gonna start calling everybody a “system guy”…

Justin Tucker? System Kicker…
Kyle Jusczyk? System Fullback
Aaron Donald? yep…system guy

DinoScapelli
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DinoScapelli

Gotta hand it to Kyle Shanahan: He knows what he has, and he knows how to use it.

Jonc77
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Jonc77

absolutely. The game plan is great

Zoocore #WelcomeBackBoneyAndClark
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Zoocore #WelcomeBackBoneyAndClark

Jimmy G about to Trent Dilfer this MFer.

Dingo
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Dingo

Pro Football Talk quotes:

Alan Light says:
January 19, 2020 at 9:09 pm
Favorite day of the year is Packer Elimination Day..usually celebrated in October, but better late than never…

LamarIsAGoodRunningBack says:
January 19, 2020 at 9:38 pm
Well, as talented as Aaron is, can we shut the book on the “Brady or Rodgers” debate now? It was kind of like the Manning vs Brady debate, which really wasn’t a debate at all. Same with Rodgers.

ackattack22 says:
January 19, 2020 at 9:43 pm
==========================================================
stellarperformance says:
January 19, 2020 at 8:08 pm
Get ready for the greatest comeback in the history of professional sports!
*****
Oops! This post didn’t age well.

Dingo
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Dingo

Usually Right says:
January 19, 2020 at 9:58 pm
The Packers need to fire Ted thomp… never mind. Fire mike Mc… never mind. Fire someone.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Tomorrow
comment image

Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy

Who’s the guy on the right?

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

The King 😛

rking88
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rking88

usually kings don’t run away from their kingdoms… but thats just one guys opinion

TS13
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TS13

Have a great week all. MLK day tomorrow.

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

You too TS!!

Dingo
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Dingo

Errin’ Rodgers 31-39, 326 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT.

Jimmy Garoppolo 6-8, 77 YDS.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Jimmy G is so efficient 🙂

rking88
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rking88

dont forget 3 fumbles (1 lost)

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Jimmy Garappolo seeking his 3rd ring 🙂

Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy

LET’S GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Dingo
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Dingo

Also more clutch than Aaron Rodgers:

comment image

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Adam Schefter

@AdamSchefter
49ers now join the 1988 Bengals and 1999 Rams as the third team to reach the Super Bowl after winning four or fewer games the previous season.

rking88
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rking88

what was the catch probability on that one a-rodg?

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

Shermie!!!!

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Game Ova!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rking88
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rking88

an AWS commercial talking about rodgers miraculous 4th quarter throw with a 19% catch probability… airing while the clock runs out on a 37-20 beat down is just… *chefs kiss * mmmph perfect

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

I thought Adams was going backwards to no first down 🙂

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

It feels like every time Rodgers takes a.sack he lands on his shoulder.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

what if Brady leaves and BB trade to get Rodgers? 🙂

rking88
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rking88

BB prefers winners not whiners

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

What if he trades for Mahomes?

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Chiefs won’t do it

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

But the Packers would? Lol.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Rodgers is 35

rking88
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rking88

he’s also owed like 22 and 36 million the next two years of his contract

rking88
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rking88

comment image

Dingo
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Dingo

More clutch than Aaron Rodgers:

comment image

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

So who will Mister Rodgers throw under the bus tonight??

Dingo
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Dingo

And the kick is-s-s-s-s-s-s-s…Gould!

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

It’s done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Evan Lazar
@ezlazar
How many 28-3 flashbacks is Shanahan having right now?

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

At the moment none. Packers have no TOs. Their defense didn’t stop the Niners one little bit.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

still not done

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

What happened to Brieda?

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

In the doghouse because of fumbilitis.

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

Ah- thanks.

rking88
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rking88

reminds me of a BB challenge where there was OPI/DPI under review in addition to the spot of the ball… and they kept the ruling that he was down a yard short despite being obviously past the line to gain…

will be interesting to see if they change the spot here

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

They are.

TS13
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TS13

Looked short.

Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy

TWSS.

rking88
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rking88

Hey Shanny… maybe it would be a good idea to RUN THE BALL…. under 6 minutes and they need two tds and you’ve run for 8 thousand yards already tonight

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

Packers are loading the box. Niners should be using more playaction passes but are playing vanilla.

Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy

Shanny knows what he’s doing.

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

Shanahan was very aggressive against the Pats. Now he’s way too conservative.

Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy

Game

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

not yet

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

Maybe they should throw to Kittle.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

and they do it

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

And gets the flag.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

This can change the game
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy

He knows how to throw!!!!!!!!!

TS13
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TS13

20-34 4th 8:13

rondo723
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rondo723

If Jimmy G gets strip sacked right now, I just don’t know man

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

The timeline is eerie. Coleman goes out with injury. Mostert is now going to whiff on a block ala Freeman. The universe just implodes.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Kyle Shanahan “ghosts” 🙂
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy
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Mattdog #GoodLockerRoomGuy

Cheeseburger >>>>>>>> Sternberger

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

Is this NFL’s Dewey defeats Truman moment?

TS13
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TS13

Kyle is in full panic mode, lol.

rking88
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rking88

so much holding

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

nah

rking88
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rking88

the replay showed it… center had a tug of the jersey as the DL was blowing by him

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

Bingo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

TD coming next

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

Lol shanahan picked the wrong time of the game to stop sniffing glue.

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

SF defense has been letting up all the quarter.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

comeback!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

No.

Deadsmack #GottaBelieve
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Deadsmack #GottaBelieve

they won’t be fine 🙂

Calipatsfan3473
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Calipatsfan3473

No they will not.

MrLucky
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MrLucky

Not gonna be fun listening to Sherman and Kelce for 2 weeks.

TS13
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TS13

Everyone will know the arse Kelse is after that.

rking88
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rking88

HURLEY STOLE MY IDEA—>

SEAPatsFan
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SEAPatsFan

Ok Hurley.