Projecting The Long Term Future Of The New England Patriots
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have played major roles in helping the Patriots establish a foundation. Will the Patriots dynasty last without Brady or Belichick? This article examines the future of the Patriots’ franchise in Foxborough.
The Patriots should get home field for a third consecutive season. Adding Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, and Anthony Gonzalez in free agency at wide receiver gave the Patriots amazing depth at wide receiver. Brady has this plus the tight end tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Wide receiver Wes Welker should have another amazing season as well. The Patriots operate a pass blocking scheme, so Brady will have lots of time to throw to these targets.
The Patriots look like they will win Super Bowl XLVII. Unfortunately, they draw the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round. Adding David DeCastro at right guard and Mike Adams at left tackle through the 2012 NFL Draft gave the Steelers an offensive line that will protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
It’s scary to imagine what Roethlisberger could do with a healthy offensive line. Wide receivers Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders are all capable of 1,000 receiving yards under Todd Haley.
The fact that Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower will both be rookies, sort of hurts the Patriots in 2012. Once these players taste the agony of a playoff defeat, they could help the Patriots in 2013.
The pass-rushing tandem of James Harrison and LaMaar Woodley on defense will open up everything else for one of the league’s more formidable defenses. The Steelers defeat the Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 47.
One year later, the Patriots go into the NFL playoffs as a 4 seed against the Tennessee Titans. After losing to the Titans in the 2012 NFL Season opener, it’s the first time they face the Titans since that defeat. The Patriots did not know whether to prepare for pocket passer Matt Hasselbeck or dual threat Jake Locker at that time. The Patriots are fueled to defeat the Titans in Foxborough this time around.
New England goes to Lucas Oil Stadium to face an Indianapolis Colts team that has more progress sooner than people expect with Andrew Luck at the helm. The Patriots advance to the AFC Championship against the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers.
This Steelers team is much tougher to defeat with better cornerback and running back play. Brady’s determination guides the Patriots past the Steelers as the Patriots clinch the AFC.
The Patriots end up going to New Jersey for Super Bowl 48, where the New York Jets and New York Giants play. After two Super Bowl losses to the Giants, the Patriots finally atone for those losses by defeating the Detroit Lions in East Rutherford 34 to 27.
After winning Super Bowl 48, Brady has 4 Super Bowl Wins and 6 Super Bowl Appearances. Brady decides to retire while he’s on top of his game. It would be ironic if Brady came back to win Super Bowl 49 and win 5 Super Bowls, but at this point, that’s wishful thinking.
Without Brady, the Patriots finish with the league’s worst record. The only reason Belichick is still employed is because he won the Super Bowl the previous season. In most situations a head coach would be fired for finishing this poorly.
Ryan Mallett struggles to replace Brady. Belichick knows he needs a new quarterback, but there is a wide receiver that is too good to pass on with the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft in Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham. The Patriots add Tim Tebow in free agency after his struggles with the Jets. Then they draft Green-Beckham with the #1 overall pick in 2015. Green-Beckham was a 6-foot-6 and 230-pound receiver who could run a 4.37 40 in high school before committing to Missouri.
The Patriots draw the defending AFC champion San Diego Chargers in the wild card and win. Then they face the Cleveland Browns who finally get home-field advantage after 3 consecutive 9-7 seasons, but miss the playoffs in all 3 seasons. 2012 first round picks Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson really manage to turn the Browns around.
Tebow is effective, but he is no Brady. The Colts defeat the Patriots in the 2016 AFC Championship. Belichick announces his retirement as luck finally works in Luck’s favor. The Colts go on to win Super Bowl 50 against the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins. Only time will tell what could happen with the Patriots and the rest of the NFL after this.