The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl in franchise history on Sunday, defeating the New England Patriots 41-33. Following a turn of events, in which many expected Brady and Belichick to win their sixth Super Bowl ring together, could this be the beginning of the end for the New England Patriots Dynasty?
Although the Patriots will start the 2019 season as Super Bowl favorites despite losing this year, Tom Brady will be turning 41, heading into his 19th season with the Patriots and time is ticking for him and Belichick. With that being said, there has been a lot of drama surrounding the Patriots lately. This was a theme throughout the 2017 season, first occurring when it was reported that Belichick not being happy about having to trade backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo which then lead to the rumors of Belichick potentially wanting out of New England, all the way through Super Bowl LII with the benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler, which became a big story within the game.
Butler, who started in all 16 regular season games and both playoff wins for New England, was benched in the team’s biggest game of the year which raised a lot of questions from players and fans during the game. When asked about being benched Butler stated that he felt that the organization gave up on him and that he could have changed the game had he been given the opportunity. This decision should scare Patriot fans as it is the kind of decision that could divide a locker room and turn them on the coaching staff, while the Patriots defensive unit, without Butler, was exploited, surrendering 41 points to an Eagles offense lead by a backup quarterback, in Nick Foles. In defense of his questionable decision, Belichick said in his post game that he felt it was “best for the team” to bench Butler while deflecting any and all questions on the topic. Butler and the Patriots will most likely part ways this off season, as he will become a free agent.
As that story developed another one broke out in a post game interview with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who created headlines in regards to his potential retirement stating, “I’m not ready to answer those types of questions right now.” Gronkowski, 28, left everyone wondering if this is going to be it for potentially one of the greatest tight ends of all time. Throughout his eight year career Gronkowski has been injured a multitude of times as he suffered a concussion in this years AFC championship against the Jaguars. Prior to this year, in 2011, he sprained his ankle in the AFC Championship game. In 2012, he fractured his forearm and after surgery he re-fractured it again in 2013, resulting in three more surgeries. In May of 2013 Gronkowski did not play until week 7 due to a back vertebral fracture. Later that season against the Browns Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL while receiving a concussion on the same play ending his season. In 2016, Gronkowski missed the final 5 games including the playoffs with a back vertebral disc hernia that ended his season.
An additional factor the to a change in the Patriots future will be the departure of offensive coordinater, Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia to head coaching opportunities with the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions respectively. The last time New England lost two coordinators was following the 2004 season when offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis (2000-2004) departed Foxboro in favor of South Bend, Indiana, to take on a head coaching job with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, while defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel (2001-2004) fufilled the head coaching vacancy with the Clevland Browns.
The duo of Weis and Crennel were a very similar to that of McDaniels and Patricia; winning a total of 3 Super Bowls together, while the Patriots compiled 48-16 mark under their guidance. When these two coaches left the staff following the 2004 season the Patriots failed to reach the Super Bowl in the following two seasons, until 2007 where their undefeated season came to an end after losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. In comparison, the latter has accumulated a regular season record of 75-21, while making the playoffs in all six seasons, winning a pair of Super Bowls in three appearances.
With all that being said, the two common variables of the team will still be at the helm; Brady and Belichick.
Since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have taken over as head coach and quarterback of the New England Patriots in 2000, they have dominated the NFL and the sports world as one of the most prolific dynasties in sports. Belichick’s combined record in his 18 years as coach of the Patriots is 214-74 (.740). In the postseason, Belichick has a record of 27-10 while winning five Super Bowls in 8 appearances, while winning regular season MVP three times and Super Bowl MVP four times. Brady has played in 37 career playoff games in his 18 years with the Patriots, which is the most of any player in NFL history.
So is this the demise of a dynasty starting to unfold? This Super Bowl LII loss looks to have been really detrimental to the team’s morale, making players question coaches and coaches question player. This could ultimately be the loss that ignites the collapse of one of the most dominating dynasties in the history of the sport.