Can the Patriots Dynasty survive an 11-point Week 2 road loss?

Published: 9/20/2018 11:53:40 AM
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots dynasty is teetering on the edge of oblivion this week after the team lost a road game in Week 2 of the regular season by the unfathomable deficit of 1.6 touchdowns.
Sunday’s 31-20 loss to the Jaguars was unlike other embarrassing losses the Patriots suffered in the first month of a regular season — all by greater margins — precisely in the quantifiable manner that it felt different. It goes without saying that the Patriots lost a 31-0 game to Bills in Week 1 of 2003. The 2014 team lost its opener 33-20 at Miami and then lost 41-14 in Week 4 at Kansas City. In 2016, they lost a Week 4 game at home against the Bills, 16-0, and the Pats dropped their 2017 opener to the Chiefs, 42-27. Although each of those four teams advanced to the Super Bowl, only three of them won the Super Bowl.
Granted, in every single one of those seasons, the early losses produced questions as to the long-term viability of the franchise. Many a pundit in the past has pointed to a particular early setback and declared it the proverbial canary in a coal mine. Even when those commentators acknowledged that previous canaries had been false canaries, they still declared future canaries that again turned out to be false canaries. It was if they were taking random, outlier results and attributing negative long-term outlooks to those results because they were so fresh in their minds.
But not this time. This time, the canary must be real. Because if one thing is certain about foreboding harbingers of doom, it is that eventually one of them will be accurate, especially if you commit to predicting them on a seemingly rote schedule, popping out on cue like cuckoo birds from a cuckoo clock. At some point, an actual canary will fly out of the clock, and that time is now. It is most certainly not cuckoo time.

Why? Well, for one thing, the game has passed by head coach and general manager Bill Belichick. He’s lost two of his last three games if you include the postseason. He hasn’t been to a Super Bowl in seven months. In February, it will have been two years since the Patriots won a Super Bowl. That’s tied for the third-long longest drought in franchise history and the second-longest drought of Belichick’s tenure in New England.
Things are so dire that Bill the GM — the arrogant alter ego of Bill the Coach who spends the offseason sipping white wine on Nantucket and spitefully depriving Tom Brady of weapons — desperately dealt the equivalent value of a sixth-round draft pick for wide receiver Josh Gordon this week. It’s a risky, desperate move fraught with peril because Gordon is a frequent offender of the NFL’s recreational drug policy and missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to drug violations. Certainly, he exhibited enormous talent five years ago, but the move bears unmitigated, desperate risk because if things go wrong, the Patriots will have to release him and stop paying him. And instead of a likely late-fifth-round draft pick, the Patriots have a likely early seventh-round pick. So desperate.
Even worse, a new book from ESPN’s Ian O’Connor says Brady considered a “divorce” from his head coach. The quarterback, however, stayed in the marriage, almost certainly because it would have been really awkward working with someone he’d recently divorced. The book titled, “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” is a prequel to O’Connor’s forthcoming: “Bill the GM: The Destruction of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time.”
Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Monitor. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.

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