by Kent Sterling
Back in the mid-2000s, the Patriots had special players all over the field. They were an amazing team, we thought, because their parts were phenomenally talented.
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The legend of the hoodie, we thought, was a myth written on the hard work of the gifted players on the roster, and the Patriots kept finding more. On defense, they had Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Eugene Wilson, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, Ty Law, Keith Traylor, Ty Warren, Asante Samuel, and on and on. The offense was led by Tom Brady, and used Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk, Deion Branch, Daniel Graham, David Patton, and David Givens. The offensive line was excellent too.
Since then, they have cycled in weapons like Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Danny Woodhead, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and they continued to win and win and win.
Today, the offense of the Pats scares the hell of out no one with marginal players like Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Julian Edeman, and Kenbrell Thompkins, and the D is led by Jerod Mayo, Steve Gregory, and Rob Ninkovich. These guys are 2-0 with both wins against division foes. Now, the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets aren’t going to scare anyone, but two wins are two wins for a team with Tom Brady and some guys.
I think Bill Belichick could lead Tom Brady and 52 dads in my neighborhood to an 8-8 record.
Don’t get the idea I like the guy. I know people who have worked for Belichick, and the stories of manipulation and relentlessly harsh focus on details that have nothing to do with winning and losing are nauseating. Spygate revealed Belichick to be a cheat, and showed that he is borderline psychotic in his craving of a competitive advantage.
That’s a rotten way to lead, and a worse way to live, but to be 2-0 with the roster he has right now might be the greatest accomplishment of Belichick’s career. The roster is so bereft of talent that Danny Amendola was brought in as an offensive savior. Amendola played in 12 of a possible 32 games in 2011 and 2012 for the St. Louis Rams, and he was the guy who was going to replace Welker.
Belichick has garnered criticism for caring only about the talent of his players as a result of the murder charge facing Hernandez, and whether that is earned or not, I don’t know. Being held culpable for the behavior of grown men is a tall order for anyone. Guys treated like they’re special tend to start to believe it, and that’s a big tent full of people in professional sports. That one guy goes rogue and starts living life like he’s in an unending episode of “The Sopranos” does fall on Belichick’s desk.
Relentless in his desire to win, Belichick is the one coach I would take to lead a team to win a single game. As a man to work for, I would take the other 31 active NFL head coaches ahead of him.
The Patriots postseason losses since 2004 have reaffirmed the correct belief that balance is key to longterm success, but with a roster filled with mediocrity, Belichick continues to lead the Patriots to more and more improbable wins.
Since his second year with the Pats in 2001, Belichick has led the team to an impossible to comprehend regular season record of 148-46. The value of the franchise has leaped from the $172 million that Bob Kraft spent to buy the team in 1994 to $1.8 billion in 2013, #2 in the NFL behind only the Dallas Cowboys. As smart as Kraft has been in developing the property around Gillette Stadium, the massive increase in value has at least as much to do with Belichick establishing the Patriots as a bastion of consistent excellence – a feat nearly unthinkable in the current parity fueled environment of the NFL.
I would never work for Belichick, but I would hire him in a second.