Bill Belichick’s Patriots look frighteningly ordinary, and that isn’t changing anytime soon

·4 min read

“In Bill Belichick we trust” and “The Patriot Way” are coined phrases that have long served as a safety net for New England Patriots fans.

It was the tried and true formula of success for an organization that has won six Super Bowls over the course of the previous two decades. But looking at the team that struggled throughout training camp and then went on to get pounded in a 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins in the season-opener, there is no place of refuge for a passionate Patriots fan-base.

There’s just the excruciating reality that Belichick and the Patriots look frighteningly ordinary.

That was obvious when the team was down 17-0 at halftime against the Dolphins, with little hope of those magical second-half adjustments back in the days when quarterback Tom Brady was still under center. And I know, some Patriots fans would love to fade Brady’s name out of existence like he’s Lord Voldemort or something.

But that hasn’t stopped the outside world from pointing out the elephant in the room. This has not been the same Patriots team since Brady left.

“Since Tom Brady has left, they look so regular. Seriously though, when I watch the tape and I really watch them, they’re getting beat up front in the running game, defenders missing tackles—they look bad,” former NFL six-time Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy said, during an appearance on FOX Sports’ Speak. “They can’t do nothing on offense.”

McCoy pushed things a bit further by suggesting Belichick was merely a “good coach” and not in the argument for the greatest of all time. That isn’t a song and dance I can get behind, but the part about the Patriots looking average—let’s tango.

The truth is the team has struggled, and Brady isn’t around to mask many of those issues. Belichick’s mistakes have been magnified due to the spotlight being solely on him.

If he misses on a draft pick, it’s going to hurt three times as bad. If he makes a bad trade or signing, it’s going to stand out more than ever before. This is the new reality facing the Patriots, and it’s legendary coach is scrambling to catch up to it.

The team has no official coordinators on offense or defense due to Belichick’s tendency to hire in-house. They have a former defensive play-caller in Matt Patricia calling their offensive plays. The offensive line looks completely unsettled while trying to install a new scheme. And second-year quarterback Mac Jones is under tremendous pressure after losing his offensive coordinator as a rookie, Josh McDaniels.

But the big cherry on top is the fact that the Patriots have the third-most expensive receiving corps in the league, per Spotrac. Yes, they’re even spending more cap dollars than a Dolphins team with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on the roster.

Meanwhile, Jones is living in luxury with Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and DeVante Parker. Make no mistake, all three of the aforementioned names are very good players, but it’s shocking to see $33.4 million being allocated to a position without a legitimate No. 1 receiving talent.

The free agent splashes feel like mere ripples with the new-age Patriots.

No one fears these Patriots, and even fewer teams fear Belichick.

These are different times we’re living in, and the days of the Patriots eviscerating the competition are over. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills are the runaway favorites to win the AFC East, and the Dolphins just handled the Patriots in a game where quarterback Tua Tagovailoa really didn’t play all that well.

That doesn’t mean Belichick and the Patriots can’t win some games, but they aren’t built to contend for a playoff spot, much less a Super Bowl in a rapidly improving AFC conference.

And the midseason reinforcements probably aren’t coming. The Patriots are running low on cap space, and this isn’t a situation where players are going to take a pay cut to come to New England—you know, like they do when Brady was the quarterback.

What you see is what you get from this Patriots team.

They’ll either figure it out or completely sink in their efforts to fix it. But The Patriot Way is a worn out formula that won’t survive the post-Brady era. Granted, it wasn’t a phrase personally coined by Belichick himself, but it was created as a way of identifying a process that seemingly worked for the greatest dynasty in NFL history.

There is no trusting this current iteration of Belichick until he shows he can turn the page.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire