The League

Michael Kun
Author

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Patriots are peerless

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When the Patriots traded Randy Moss only weeks into the season, it led to more than a bit of head-scratching among fans and the media.

Had Bill Belichick lost his mind?

Was Moss injured?

Did something happen behind the scenes?

Was Moss being traded because he made a barb about Tom Brady's ridiculous haircut? (That's not a joke. There was speculation that Moss and Brady had a spat about the hair on their respective heads.)

Was the trade a preemptive strike because the Patriots had no intention of resigning Moss at the end of the season?

Were the Patriots giving up on this season?

And, even if they weren't giving up on the season, was the season now lost in any event?

After all, the Patriots had no deep threat on their roster to suddenly fill Moss's large, albeit disgruntled, shoes. Patriots fans had to be concerned about their short-term future. And fans of the Jets, Steelers, Colts and other rivals had to be rejoicing as they watched the Patriots dismantle one of the league's most potent pass-and-catch combinations.

Who's rejoicing now?

Somehow, someway, the Patriots are now a stronger team than they were when the season opened. To the layman's eyes, their revamped offense, focusing more on horizontal passes than vertical, should be less explosive. But, somehow, someway, the new offense is more effective than the old one. And, somehow, someway, a team that looked to be a contender with two superstars on its roster now looks completely unstoppable with only one.

Yes, that one superstar, Tom Brady, is having a magnificent season. A season for the ages perhaps. He has perfected the short passing game, with some significant help from an offensive line that gives him the time to throw when he needs it, and sets up the screen pass better than any other line in football. His receivers -- Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and those rookie tight ends -- wreak havoc on defenses, lining up everywhere and unafraid to go over the middle. But, ultimately, it's Brady who is deserving of a great deal of the credit for turning the Patriots into such a dominant force. He's having one of those seasons quarterbacks dream of, where every play seems to play out in slow motion before him, and where every decision seems to be the right one.

But Brady only directly affects half the game. The Patriots defense, which doesn't have a single household name (yet), has become dominant as well. They stopped the Jets cold on a chilly Monday night, a 45-3 defeat so embarrassing that the Jets ceremoniously buried the game ball in an attempt to forget the game. (If you saw the Jets-Dolphins game on Sunday, you know that the plan failed terribly.) They stopped the Bears in the snow on Sunday, 36-7. The game was over at halftime. Even Brian Urlacher questioned whether the Patriots took it easy on them in the second half.

How did this happen?

How did this team become this good?

You know the answer: Bill Belichick.

Belichick and his staff are peerless strategists. (Am I the only one who believes that if you plucked 11 guys off the street and slapped Patriots jerseys on them, Belichick would come up with a game plan that would make them competitive?)

But it's more than strategy. Belichick and his staff are peerless talent evaluators. You can go up and down the Patriots roster and identify players that other teams overlooked who are playing key roles for the Patriots. Players who fit into Belichick's system. (Of course, that list starts with Brady himself. With the benefit of hindsight, fans often question how Joe Montana slipped to the third round of the draft. The better question now is how Brady slipped to the sixth round? Belichick was the one who knew to draft him.)

Belichick and his staff are, simply, the best in the game.

And as the Patriots overtook the Jets two weeks ago and staked their claim to first place in the AFC East, even Jets fans had to make that painful concession.

Would it be pouring salt on the wound to remind Jets fans that Belichick was supposed to succeed Bill Parcells as the Jets coach oh so long ago?

Yes, I suppose it would.

By Michael Kun  |  December 14, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  | Category:  Michael Kun , NFL , New England Patriots , Tom Brady Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Belichick the mastermind | Next: Doing the right thing

Comments

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The coach is important, but he's got a group of men that carry the water. There certainly are peers that get it right. We haven't played them all, ... yet.

Posted by: schafer-family | December 14, 2010 8:31 PM

If NFL has to move onto the new century, they might as well rename the Lombardi Trophy to Belichick Trophy. It's only justified.

Posted by: DesiHungama | December 14, 2010 9:38 PM

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