No team has had to adapt to more change while also sidestepping reporter questions than the New England Patriots. For starters, there’s really nothing to prepare a franchise for the news that your star tight end is on trial facing a murder investigation. Or that you lost your other tight end, Rob Gronkowski, to another season-ending injury. Or that your defensive anchors Jerrod Mayo and Vince Wilfork would also miss the remainder of the season.
Injuries are always a given in the NFL, but not so many at key positions. However, it always helps to have a solid structure in place.
If there’s one guy you want running the show while a three-ring circus is going on around him, it’s the ‘hoodie’ Bill Belichick. Belichick is the consummate pro when it comes to managing the nuclear fallout of an injury or blindsiding murder investigation. Not that Belichick is a regular chatterbox with the media anyway, though he manages his team and reminds them of the expectations.
And it’s not like the Patriots are new to this game. New England has more player turnover than most Fortune 500 companies because it goes with a “pump them and dump them” assembly-line approach — which works. The Patriots wring all the possible talent out of practice squad cast-offs and ‘damaged goods’ free agents because they feed off the Patriots way, likely because it breeds winners — like Tom Brady.
Who would have thought that Brady and his ragtag receiving corps would even be in this position in the first place? Of course, you could argue that the AFC isn’t as stacked as the NFC, but that would take away from a career season in spite of the lack of talent that got Brady here. While his 25 touchdowns this year pale in comparison to the record-breaking 2007 season when he threw 50, Brady gets maximum effort from others on the field all the time he is a winner.
You can’t argue with the gold, and you can’t and shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.
As the Patriots take the field on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos, they could make history in a number of ways. A win would give Brady his sixth Super Bowl appearance while a subsequent Super Bowl win would give Brady his fourth, tying him for tops all-time.
The ESPN assault of Manning-Brady man-love is in full swing, and ultimately I believe the game will come down to their play. This game of course centers around Manning-Brady but at the end of the day, if there’s one team that has an edge in any area, it’s the mental toughness and resolve of the Patriots that will seal it.