This iteration of the spy column will pull no punches. That is not an attribute normally associated with The Buffalo Fanatics and not even a column covering the living legend of Belichick will change that. Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL; there is no arguing with that, and that is not the point of this column. This week we point the spotlight at the elephant in the room. No, COVID opt-outs are not why the Patriots are not good this season, and they are not good. It is a simple fact; the Patriots are not good due to the decisions of Bill Belichick the coach and Bill Belichick the General Manager. The burden of leadership reflects on the leader.
SPY 1: Team Composition
The Patriots have the 6th oldest roster in the NFL based on Jimmy Kempski’s (of The Philly Voice) annual roster-by-age breakdown. The Patriots’ roster composition is not conducive to the 2020 pace of play, intensity, and offensive emphasis. The team is ranked 11th in total defense and 24th in total offense thus far in 2020, according to ESPN. The team is simply not built to win, and the responsibility of that falls squarely on the shoulders of Bill Belichick, just the same as it has for so many failed and bygone Bills coaches of years passed.
SPY 2: Depth of Talent
When you combine the myriad of issues faced by this years’ Patriots team, the sum of the parts has been mediocre at best. From having numerous starters opting out, to Stephon Gilmore and Julian Edelman dealing with an injury, and an older, less dynamic roster, the Patriots are simply not the juggernaut they once were.
Belichick has less to work with. Furthermore, he has not exactly been the best at making the right draft selections, a point that has been reinforced by media members such as Sal Capaccio, of WGR 550. What compounds that situation, even more, is Belichick citing the salary cap as a primary limiting factor contributing to the lack of depth on the team. Cam Newton was not exactly provided with many weapons, let alone an array of weapons. This has certainly affected his ability to run a lethal offense. At one point, Newton posted a QB rating of 39 (Yes, you read that correctly.) against the Denver Broncos. New England only produced three Pro Bowl players this season in Punter Jake Bailey, Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and Special Teams Specialist Matthew Slater.
SPY 3: Vanilla Flavored Football
The Patriots have not played a dynamic, aggressive, or threatening style in this season and seem wholly incapable of doing so. The blowout of the Chargers can be chalked up to a fluke, as it is atypical to the Patriots’ other game scripts.
Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News wrote the following excerpt outlining how the Patriots expected the offense to run: “Now we have no idea how the Patriots really want to operate under McDaniel’s with Newton in control. The thought is that they would have an amoeba offense, adjusting to a specific strength or weakness of a defense, or their typical M.O. in the Belichick era.” The fact that the coaching staff could not define a discernible overall strategy for this offense has surely contributed to its stagnant appearance and performance. Teams playing the Patriots this season have predominantly been unafraid, and willing to pick apart the Patriots’ weaknesses while paying little mind to Bill Belichick’s prowess.
DARKHORSE BONUS POINT
The Patriots appear to have a “one-lane road” mentality. They appear to go into a game with a loose framework of what they hope to accomplish tactically. The issues become readily apparent once their tactics are shown to be ineffective. The Patriots have been unable to adjust or do anything remotely esoteric to throw a curveball at the opponent.
In Closing, please follow The Buffalo Fanatics on all platforms, trust the process and GO BILLS.
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