Patriots

Patriots

The Patriots seem to know what they’re doing.

Since 2010, there have been eight straight AFC Championship Game appearances, five trips to the Super Bowl, three Super Bowl wins, two titles in the past three years  . . . we all know the list of unprecedented accomplishments.

Facts is facts — they’ll be in the NFL’s Final Four. They’ll probably be in the final two. They’ll be favored to win the last game of the year.

If you didn’t think their success was inevitable before, 2018 was the convincer. To rip through the playoffs with that “array” of offensive talent?

It was a feat that put the Patriots in a place where even they’ve never been before.

Unassailable.

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You want to hand-wring in March about the fact that Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett are the only wideouts under contract?

You want to worry before St. Patrick’s Day about Gronk maybe deciding to retire and leaving all the tight-end work to Jacob Hollister?

You want to slowly raise your hand and point out that, even though Tom Brady’s a magician, he has neither a rabbit nor a hat to pull it out of and you’re concerned that maybe could be an issue that could use some addressing? No offense intended, but he’s almost 42 and all . . . 

You want to say, “Gee, there seem to be an awful lot of talented football players agreeing to work for new teams in 2019 but none have agreed to come here yet”?

 

And then you remember that THE SEASON WAS IN A GRAVEYARD SPIRAL IN MID-DECEMBER AND THEY STILL WON THE FRIGGIN SUPER BOWL!!!

So you holster your concerns.

You really shouldn’t, though.

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Because being able to overcome a severe lack of pass-catching depth and talent once doesn’t mean this team will be just fine even if it doesn’t make moves to give offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels something to threaten defenses with.

Adding talented players and paying them market price isn’t a move for sucker teams who don’t know what they’re doing. It’s how it’s supposed to work.

When you lay it out, the lack of attention to the wide receiver position is almost laughable.

Since the Patriots lost to the Eagles in SB52, they’ve said goodbye to Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Kenny Britt. They’ve signed and said goodbye to Jordan Matthews and Eric Decker. They signed and were forced to say, “Maybe see you later?” to Josh Gordon.

Underwhelming though it was, the rest of the 2018 wideout crew — Cordarelle Patterson and Chris Hogan — is either already gone (Patterson) or there for other teams’ taking as unrestricted free agents.

Now, it’s Edelman, Dorsett and . . . Braxton Berrios?

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No wonder Gronk hasn’t decided whether or not he’s coming back. He’s looking to reduce his workload as his career winds down, not ratchet up because he’s the only tight end in town.

The Patriots have $4.451 million in cap space committed to the wide receiver position in 2019 (not including whatever will be due Dorsett). That’s the lowest in the NFL. The only players under contract at the position along with Edelman and Dorsett are Gordon (suspended) and Matt Slater (special teamer).  

Would Bill Belichick ever be this unmoved if the cupboard was bare in, say, the secondary? Or linebacker? Or anywhere on the defense?

The presumption is that Belichick has a “plan.”

Maybe he does. If a signing doesn't seem imminent, it must be the draft. Or maybe a trade.

Or it may just be the same plan as it was in 2018: “Josh and Tom will figure it out.”

Hell, it worked before. Who’s to second guess?

Everybody. 

Personnel-wise, the Patriots were negligent at tight end and wideout in 2018 but didn't pay the price because of Brady and McDaniels. That's not a model worth trying to repeat. 

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