January 22, 2014

Is the #Belichick era closing in New England?

Two assistant coaches leaving the team. One, Pepper Johnson, on that first link, unhappy he didn't get to move up to defensive coordinator. The other to leave, O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia, takes 30 years with the club off the table.

Tom Brady likely on his contract before retiring, although maybe he'd like some post-Belichick time, and, with four years left, could have that happen. But that's not likely. I doubt Belichick will retire before Brady does.

Belichick going off half-cocked on Wes Welker, as I blogged about here.

Don't get me wrong, he's been a great coach. But, like Phil Jackson and Tony LaRussa, maybe he's hit his expiration date.

And, for that matter, the Patriots probably have an expiration date, too. No telling how good, or not, Vince Wilfork is next year. Even if Aqib Talib is healthy, they still have a thin secondary. And, he's not totally young, in NFL years, for a cornerback anymore.

Losing your O-line coach, the one who's been there more than a decade, won't help the vaunted rushing game. Nor pass protection. And, speaking of passing ...

Post-Welker, post-Aaron Hernandez, and an iffy Rob Gronkowski, Brady has a thin receiving corps.

That said, let's not blame all of his overthrows in the Broncos game on his receiving cast, although he kind of went there himself. Albeit on a worse weather day, Brady had plenty of miscues the week before. And in the last couple of weeks of the regular season.

At least they were overthrows, so Pats fans know his arm isn't near to being shot.

Unless he was overcompensating.

Seriously, throw out game-winning drives this year (which mean you were behind in the first place), and Brady's been on a steady decline for several years. Throwing out his one-game injury season of 2008, he had a sub-90 season quarterback rating for the first time since 2003. And, while a fair amount of that may be blamable on all of the above issues plus a run-heavy offense, is all of it?


Miami will be hungry after this year's playoff near miss, and Ryan Tannehill will be better with experience. Ditto on Geno Smith in New York. (I think. If he can get worse, the Jets are in a lot of trouble.)

And, if Brady is aging, and all of these other things, maybe Belichick won't stick for four more years after all. If the Pats had won it all this year, an imminent retirement wouldn't have surprised me.

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