Now is when 'In Bill Belichick we trust' gets put to the test

Now is when 'In Bill Belichick we trust' gets put to the test

I'm ready to be lazy on one of the most important decisions in Patriots history: Just do what Bill Belichick wants.

Or, to sound like you for the last two decades, "In Bill We Trust."

It's the most we'll have put the phrase to the test -- even more so than the questioning of the Malcolm Butler benching -- but it should be a no-brainer. If Belichick wants to keep Tom Brady for another year, two or three, let him do it and try to fix the team's issues accordingly.

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But if he's ready to move on -- and drafting potential replacements and letting him go into a walk year might suggest he's at least willing to risk it -- he should have carte blanche.

Belichick is the best coach in the league and will be the best coach in the league in one, two, three years. Brady's (deep breath) a good quarterback who used to be the best quarterback, but might have better days ahead of him before he eventually retires, at which point Belichick will still be the best coach in the league. We can have both Brady and Belichick over that time, but it has to be Belichick -- not Robert Kraft or anyone else -- who makes that call.

Did Brady seem particularly chipper on the field this season? No? Cool. Now imagine keeping Brady with this roster and having an overruled Belichick, too. Is it really practical from an ownership standpoint to piss off the two pillars of the organization in consecutive years?

Assuming he has everything he needs, Brady will be good next season, maybe even an MVP candidate. He's not as good as he used to be -- there is absolutely no question there -- but he's still the smartest quarterback in the league.

Provided he's got the weapons, he'll still be able to take advantage of defenses better than he did this year, when he could have been annoyed with anything ranging from his contract, to his receivers, to the "blame and shame media."

But is that here and with this group? If Brady thinks they were just a piece away last season and there's a move to be made for a tight end, the Patriots can work with that. Go make that acquisition (which they should do no matter what) and proceed with a quarterback ready to prove this season was a fluke.

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You can't think that's the case, though. This was the guy who wanted Antonio Brown, then wanted the team to trade for Mohamed Sanu, both of whom the team acquired and neither of whom made an impact. So Brady also wants receivers, and most likely veteran ones.

Maybe Belichick likes what he's got at receiver. Maybe he thinks N'Keal Harry was a good pick who will be better with a full camp and preseason. Maybe he remembers that the young receivers fared better in preseason with Jarrett Stidham than they did with the understandably demanding Brady.

Now here's where the maybes stop: Belichick should definitely feel proven right for not giving Brady an extension like the two-year, $50 million deal Drew Brees signed a couple of years ago. Belichick didn't pay Brady like a top quarterback and Brady didn't play like one.

So does he want to pay Brady another $23 million (or more), in addition to the $6.75 million in dead money that goes against the cap if Brady comes back?

I don't know the answer, but if Belichick's as skeptical about it as I am, the Pats should say goodbye to the best player they've ever had.

You've said "In Bill We Trust" for years. Now's when you've got to ask yourself if you actually believe it.

Curran: For Brady and the Patriots, there's no easy way out

Other playoff teams don't seem to be having this big an issue with young receivers

Other playoff teams don't seem to be having this big an issue with young receivers

Here’s something that's tough to hear as we blame everyone but Tom Brady for the Patriots’ struggles in the passing game: Other quarterbacks don’t seem to be having this big a problem with young receivers. 

Among potential playoff teams, the Seahawks, Ravens, 49ers, Steelers and Chiefs are all getting immediate contributions from rookie wide receivers. In particular, and D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, both of whom were drafted within eight picks of N’Keal Harry, are having very good rookie campaigns on contending teams. 

Here’s a breakdown of rookie receivers on playoff teams. I’ll keep it to guys taken in the first three rounds: 

Marquise Brown, Ravens, 25th overall: 36 rec, 520 yards, 6 TD

N’Keal Harry, Patriots, 32nd overall: 4 rec, 28 yards, 1 TD (spent first eight weeks on IR)

Deebo Samuel, 49ers, 36th overall: 42 rec, 564 yards, 3 TD

Mecole Hardman, Chiefs, 56th overall: 23 rec, 450 yards, 5 TD

D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks, 64th overall: 44 rec, 705 yards, 5 TD

Diontae Johnson, Steelers, 66th overall: 36 rec, 423 yards, 3 TD

Jalen Hurd, 49ers, 67th overall: IR

Miles Boykin, Ravens, 93rd overall: 11 rec, 185 yards, 2 TD

Before you play the “Harry’s only been available for three games” card, no he hasn’t. Week 9 in Baltimore could have been his first game back, but the Patriots were in no rush to play him, which further begs the question of why the Patriots haven’t been in much of a rush with him. 

Or these questions: Is Deebo Samuel that much better than Harry? Is Mecole Hardman? Is D.K. Metcalf leaps and bounds superior? 

Do you think if the Patriots had any of these guys, they’d be putting up the numbers they are with their respective teams? Or would they be the subject of endless “they’re just not on the same page” laments? 

Part of it is the offense. The same playbook that’s given opposing defenses fits has been tough to learn for youngsters and veterans alike. That’s fine, but if your receiver group is shallow and banged-up enough that you’re going to need production from Harry and Jakobi Meyers, you’ve got to meet them halfway. The Patriots aren’t. 

While it's easy to throw your hands up and say that you just can't count on rookies, consider that these other teams and quarterbacks could have, too. They haven't. Metcalf is second on the 10-2 Seahawks in both catches and receiving yards. Brown and Samuel are their respective teams’ top wide receivers. Hardman is tied for the Chiefs team lead in receiving touchdowns. Same goes for Johnson with the Steelers.  

These teams and their quarterbacks are proof that you can rely on young receivers and still be competitive. The Patriots are the exception to the rule right now, and they’re worse off for it.  

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Looking for Black Friday bargains? These are best deals in Boston sports

Looking for Black Friday bargains? These are best deals in Boston sports

Shoppers pack malls and stores looking for the best deals on Black Friday, but Boston sports fans don't have to look very hard to find some great deals.

If you take a closer look at rosters from the local teams, you'll find some excellent bargains.

DJ Bean says these are the five best deals in Boston sports, though he's (mostly) ignoring entry-level deals and first contracts.

Click here for the gallery.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.