Tom Brady

USA Today

The Pats Are Not Dead

New England is done when Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are done.

January 14, 2019 - 10:20 am

Last week, I called my shot. I told you that even though the Patriots are impossible to beat at home, that even though it’s Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, that even though you can just write New England into the AFC Championship game every year, I had a feeling this would be different. DIFF CHARGERS. DIFF. YEAR. DIFF. RESULT. I was wrong. I could not have been more wrong.

Patriots 41
Chargers 28

And it wasn’t that close. Not even remotely. Clemson-Alabama couldn’t believe what a beatdown New England-Los Angeles was. It was stunning. I never saw something like that coming. And the truth is, I should’ve. Not because of the Chargers, but because of the Patriots. This is who they are and what they do.

And let me say one thing before we really get started here: if you looking to call, email, or tweet, with the thought of putting any of that loss on Philip Rivers, here’s my best advice to you: shut the hell up.

Take your phone or your computer and light them on fire. Back over them in your car.  Or both... Because that is a horrendous take. That loss was not on Philip Rivers. Did he play his best game ever? No and he’d be the first to tell you that. Because every time he dropped back to pass, a couple of Patriots were right in his chest. And if you think the Chargers lost because Rivers was yelling at the refs or his teammates, you couldn’t be more wrong about that either.

And so as I now eat a nice, steaming pile of crow, let me tell you something else: I am never picking against the Patriots again. Never.

Because when I went with the Chargers, I was violating the rule that I have repeated time and time again this year: the Patriots are done when Tom Brady and Bill Belichick say they are done. That is a fact.

You think Nick Foles is a playoff zombie? Nick Foles is incredible, but he needs to do what he’s done the last two years for another decade and a half to reach Tom Brady and Bill Belichick Zombie Level Status.

So let me repeat: the Patriots are done when Tom Brady and Bill Belichick say they are done. And not a second before.

You come in with a cool 7-defensive back scheme that destroyed a different Super Bowl winning head coach last week? Doesn’t matter. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will humiliate you with their scheme. Pick you apart and embarrass you. They averaged more than 8 yards per play on their first 25 plays.

Throughout most of the first half, the Patriots had more first downs than the Chargers had offensive plays. That’s how big a mismatch it turned out to be.

The Patriots look old, slow, and banged up? Doesn’t matter. Here are touchdowns on the first four drives of the game and 35 points in the first half.

Belichick can’t find a pass rush? Doesn’t matter. Here are guys burying Rivers on every single dropback.

Rob Gronkowski looks close to retirement? Doesn’t matter. He was throwing fools around and put on an absolute clinic as a blocker. Seriously. That was poetry. It didn’t matter that he only caught one pass yesterday, that was still one of his best games in a long time. 

Julian Edelman misses four games for a banned substance at the start of the season? Doesn’t matter. Here’s 9 receptions, 151 yards, and one back-breaking first down after another. His yards-after-catch yesterday were absurd.

You can say anything and everything you want about how the Patriots are done and they will still show up in January in Foxboro and pick you apart. And that’s exactly what they did to the Chargers yesterday.

I did get a couple things right about that game. I told you that Sony Michel would have to have a huge game. He did. 138 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.

I told you that James White would have to have a huge game. He did. 15 receptions for 97 yards.

I’m not sure if the game was over before it started, but it was certainly over after the first drive. An absolute masterclass from Josh McDaniels. I know he did his reputation no favors by how he handled things with the Colts last year, but if that made you forget that he’s a brilliant offensive mind, then he reminded you yesterday.

That 14-play drive that ate up more than 7 minutes wasn’t just a message for the Chargers, it was for everyone, everywhere. And it had everything: screens, runs, dinks, and dunks. And a touchdown. 

Early in that game, the only question wasn't whether the Patriots would win, but whether Tom Brady's coat was going to get any bigger.

Did you get a load of that? Is that actually even a jacket or did he just wrap himself in the tarp that covers the field. That's not a coat, that's a circus tent. 

The only thing bigger than that jacket was the chip on the shoulder under it. 

Everything everyone said about this team in the last week, they heard. And they even heard some stuff that nobody was saying. And they used it all. As Brady said after the game: “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, we can’t win any games.”

Devin McCourty had his ears and eyes open, too: “Our quarterback is too old, we aren’t good enough on defense, our skill players aren’t good enough. We see it.”

And then, if you thought the Patriots players were running on some premium fuel, check out this filthy trash talk from their head coach: “Played a good game today.”

That really is the equivalent of the hoodie showing up to the presser, taping on the mic and saying, “is this thing on?  Is thing on? Good. I want to start by asking, tell me how my ass taste!”

That’s the kind of attitude and edge this group is playing with. Everything you think about them is wrong. And every time you try to bury them, they come out of the ground, rip that shovel out your hand and bludgeon you with it. 

Well, I’m done doing that. They could start next season 0-15, and I still wouldn’t rule out them sneaking into the playoffs as a six-seed and winning the Super Bowl.

I’ll check back in 30 years….Tom and Bill could roll out of the tunnel on matching Rascal scooters, and I’d still say they were going to win.

So, one more time: the Patriots are done when Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are done. And not a second before. And as disappointing as the Chargers were, the Patriots were that unbelievable, and I’ve got no problem smashing this crow sando. No excuses, and no problem smashing that sando: because the Pats effectively just jammed it right down my trachea.