Always Trust Brady & Belichick; The Patriots are Still the Belle of the Ball After Two Decades
Trust in a long-term relationship can be a funny thing. Sometimes your Significant Other will do things like stay out late on back-to-back nights or forget to call when they are away on a business trip. Without trust, your mind immediately jumps to despicable actions like “they are an addict on a bender” or “they did not call because they are cheating on me.” But if you have trust in that person, you realize there are reasonable explanations for the late nights and no-calls: stuff like poker nights with buddies and over exhaustion from work travel (no, this is not a personal confession). The 2018 New England Patriots are your long-term Significant Other; even when they start doing unusual things like getting stonewalled by the Lions and Titans or losing back-to-back games in December to the Dolphins and Steelers, you still need to trust them. You cannot let your mind start going to evil places and beginning to doubt their sincerity. They will always slip back into bed with you and hook an arm around your shoulder. That is when they will present you with a gift; a brand new, shiny, giant… ring.
Dale Arnold did not trust Bill Belichick. He did not trust Tom Brady. Give him credit; he may not have cheated on the Patriots, but he was definitely fantasizing about what it was like with other women, with other teams.
That wish from Arnold came in the NFC Championship Game. If you are a fan of other teams, you can kind of understand where his desire came from. If you are a Patriots fan, you probably just shook your head. Yes, Brandin Cooks was the bright shiny car that you loved for a year. But then you realized it was not practical so you traded it to your next door neighbor. Sure, it might hurt from time to time when you see your neighbor with the roof down enjoying the sun on a beautiful day, but you also know you got something more practical; an extra 10 acres of land in return and now you can turn it into a play area where your children can grow and become adults.
The Patriots used the 1st-Round pick they got in return for trading Cooks to draft Isaiah Wynn, which enabled Belichick to grab Sony Michel without any reservations with their original 1st-Round pick. That set the wheels in motion for the Patriots sixth Super Bowl run. A run where they relied heavily on the ground game and used it to control every single one of their postseason games. In last year’s Super Bowl, Cooks made two of the dumbest plays you will ever see: trying and failing to hurdle on an end-around when he had 10 horizontal yards of freedom to work with, and turning back into the flow to get himself concussed. In this year’s Super Bowl he had one touchdown batted out of his hands by Jason McCourty (The Super Bowl Edition of MicroPats found below) and had another slip through his hands. Wishing and missing and pining for Brandin Cooks was not the way to win a championship.
A strange thing happened as the Patriots started ripping the throats out of opposing teams in the playoffs; everyone went revisionist historian. People started pretending like they had trust in the Patriots all along. Like the furor after the Patriots’ back-to-back losses in December never happened. But I remember. Do you ‘member? I memmmmmmber
Dan Orlovsky remembers. Orlovsky, the former UConn, and NFL quarterback and one of the best reasons to still watch ESPN (seriously, his segments on Get Up! and his Twitter–@DanOrlovsky7–are MUST follows for any football fan) lost his faith in the Patriots. Even when told directly it was an error to doubt the Patriots, he not. Sure, the stats backed him up at the time, but for a guy that watches hours and hours of film and who grew up in New England, the images of one night stands and illicit affairs were too much to handle. He thought for sure the Patriots were no good, and the relationship was over. He was wrong.
Being wrong is acceptable. We are all wrong. We are all human. But Tom Brady is not Tim Lincecum. He is Nathan Eovaldi, he is Curt Schilling. If you on the verge of entering your third decade in a relationship with somebody and you still do not trust them, you might have to start thinking the problem does not lie with them, it probably lies with you. There is an old saying, “only two things are certain in life: death and taxes.” When it comes to football, there is a third; counting out the Patriots and doubting Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will make you look like a fool.
Putting your trust in Brady and Belichick is always the wise move. Doubting them is not. This was the worst Patriots’ regular season in years… and it ended in their sixth Super Bowl victory. The Patriots started the season 2-2. They lost to the Jaguars and the Matt Patricia Lions on the road (maybe even saving Patricia his job). They got stomped by the Mike Vrabel led Titans. There were even back-to-back losses IN DECEMBER to the Dolphins and Steelers. But even the things that seemed historically bad at the time, ended up as good results for the Patriots.
That Lions loss? If the Patriots beat the Lions, Patricia probably losses his job. There is no Rams/Lions matchup in Week 13. There is no blueprint for how to slow down the Rams’ play-action and outside zone schemes. The fluke loss to the Dolphins and the 17-10 setback to the Steelers in Pittsburgh? That forced the Patriots to have to go on the road for the AFC Championship Game. It turned the Patriots into ACTUAL underdogs. The Patriots, they of the FIVE LOMBARDI TROPHIES, could legitimately call themselves the underdogs and revert to the “Nobody Believed in Us” teams that started the dynasty. They used that fuel to clip the Kansas City Chiefs. Then the defense took the mantle once again and almost white-washed the Rams.
In a game where the vast majority of pundits were giving the coaching battle to Sean McVay, Bill Belichick reminded the doubters; he might have aged, but he is still the same buxom beauty you fell in love with decades ago. Sure, there will come a time when “till death do us part,” becomes a reality. It might even be next year. But stop hoping for it. Trust the relationship. Trust that what made you fall in love with Brady/Belichick (and Dante Scarnecchia) when the love notes consisted of little napkin scribbles like, “I resign as HC of the NYJ -BB,” still holds true today. The relationship may have aged, but it is not vinegar, it is a fine wine. It just keeps getting better and better. So long as Brady and Belichick are still around, the Patriots will still be the one turning heads and winning crowns. That you can trust.