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“We’ve got to start listening to Coach Belichick. We’ve got young kids who are good players. We’ve got the best football coach of all time. He’s got the answers. We as a team have to take the teaching and the coaching we’ve been given.”
The above quote is from Tom Brady, during an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. It seems harmless and doesn’t attack or ciritcize Bill Belichick at all. However, there is an underlying message that can be detected.
Did the Patriots give up on Belichick? Does the hoodie no longer have the control it once did? Could the reign of Bill Belichick be over?
Bill Belichick has been known as many things: a genius, a cheater, a ball buster, resilient, quiet, and reserved, among numerous other kind and not-so-nice comments. However, there is no denying that the three time Super Bowl winning head coach is one of the game’s elite. His defensive schemes were top notch over the past decade and he has turned some of the game’s good players into great Pro Bowl warriors.
Then along came Adalius Thomas. The free agent came over from Baltimore where he was expected to continue his reign of terror. After a decent 2007 campaign, where he started in the Super Bowl against the Giants, Thomas faced a series of injuries and was deactivated for a game in 2009 after showing a lack of dedication.
“I don’t need something like this to fire me up. This isn’t kindergarten. I don’t play (those) game.”
As far as people can remember, it was the first time a player for Bill Belichick publically criticized the coach while under him. The up and down season had a huge incident with the failed fourth down in Indy and ended with a humulitaing loss to the Ravens in the playoffs, at home. So after a decade of dominance, have the Patriots finally begun to unravel, and if so, is the coach to blame?
Belichick has maintained a pretty steady gameplan. The defense always tried to win the battle at the line, to make teams one dimensional, however, without a dominant pass rusher, the team has been vulnerable and had been run on many times. The Vince Wilfork of old remained dormant last season, but hopefully with a new contract, he will return to the force in the middle he once was.
If he doesn’t, it’s Bill Belichick’s job is to fix it. Belichick was the defensive mastermind that built the Giants of the 80′s around Lawrence Taylor. He is supposed to have an eye for these things. However, it appears that the new defensive genius is the divisional rival Rex Ryan. Belichick had a gameplan that once worked, but now it’s time to shake things up. If the team starts winning, then his players will buy into the system. Otherwise it might be another long season, for the once great coach.
As for Brady, he needs to practice what he preached. Even he admitted to tuning out Coach Belichick. As the leader of the team, it’s Brady’s responsibility to get the team behind Belichick. If Brady has a problem with something, he is probably the only guy in the locker room who can be frank with Belichick and he should.
If the Patriots keep doing the same thing, they will find themselves behind the times and slowly slipping into irrelevance.
“Life changes.”, Brady Continued. “You’ve got to be able to change with it.”
The NFL landscape is changing and if New England doesn’t change with it, then the team, and it’s coach, might find themselves beind the times.