It’s official. Bill Belichick is a genius. We pretty much knew that already, given his ridiculous four Lombardi Trophies and six Super Bowl appearances. But for real, I mean FOR REAL, this guy is now, if he wasn’t already, the GOAT.
Over the top praise aside, let’s look at the obvious: Belichick just absolutely dismantled the Houston Texans and their top-ranked defense with something called a Jacoby Brissett under center.
Not only did Brissett move the ball, but the Pats ran the ball down Houston’s throat en route to an embarrassing 27-0 blowout win. The defense was just as good, as they swarmed ball carriers and made Brock Osweiler look like he was the one starting his first ever NFL game, instead of Brissett.
Once it was all said and done, the Patriots were 3-0 despite not having Tom Brady, Dion Lewis, Rob Ninkovich and getting just 14 snaps out of star tight end Rob Gronkowski all year.
That is absolutely astonishing.
It’s so crazy, in fact, that it’s entirely arguable (and believable) that the Pats may not lose at any point this year. There is logic to point that out, too, so let’s sort through the madness:
You can sift through all the records and data you want, but here are the two things we’re taking away from week three and 2016 as a whole so far:
Belichick is 6-0 with rookie quarterbacks
The Patriots are 3-0 despite being a shell of themselves
Tom Brady was suspended the first four games of the year, as was pass rusher Rob Ninkovich, Gronk has been hurt all year, Dion Lewis hasn’t played a down and the team traded away stud pass rusher Chandler Jones.
No matter, as Belichick got Jimmy Garoppolo ready, marched into Arizona and staged and upset and then almost blew the Dolphins away in week two. In week three, New England was in a situation where no one would judge them for buckling against an elite defense and arguably the best Texans offense we’ve seen since Matt Schaub was any good.
Instead of getting trounced or even losing a tight game, Belichick moved the right chess pieces at just the right time to dominate Houston and show everyone just how wide the gap between these two teams truly is.
I’m not saying Belichick or the Pats are necessarily invincible, because we’ve seen Belichick’s genius get tossed back in his unsuspecting face in the past. But this is pretty darn impressive and it’s quickly becoming something you don’t want to bet against.
It even makes you wonder if there is anyone Belichick couldn’t win with right now. Like Uncle Rico:
These first four games without Tom Brady were supposed to be tough. They haven’t entirely been easy but Belichick and co. have prepared and adapted perfectly in each one and like it or not, are still perfect after three games without their top passer and numerous other usual assets.
Due to that, it’s pretty hard to believe they’re going to suddenly lose their first game in week four against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have been trash, New England is at home, Gronkowski should see more action and Jimmy Garoppolo could be back.
Truth be told, this might be the one spot where we pause and wonder if the Pats get tripped up, but logic and everything we’ve seen to this point tell us that won’t happen.
After that, Brady is back in the saddle against the Browns. From there, the Pats do have some tough games with matchups against the Bengals, Steelers, Seahawks, Jets (twice), Ravens and Broncos.
Each one can be explained away, though. New England is going to get stronger and healthier each week, while only two of these perceived tough games (@ Steelers, @ Broncos) are on the road.
On paper, the Pats can handle anyone in their division, are arguably better than Cincinnati and given the current state of the Seahawks, shouldn’t have too much trouble with that matchup at home.
The only question marks are the Steelers and Broncos road games. However, Denver’s offense remains a question mark and the Pats should be at or near 100% for both of these epic showdowns.
If New England loses during the 2016 regular season, it’s likely during one or both of these games. That being said, we think it’s very possible they don’t.
The Mad Man Cometh
One big reasons for all of the optimism, even aside from this insane 3-0 start, is the return of Tom Brady. Brady is awesome every year and age doesn’t really impact him much, seeing as he’s never been reliant on insane arm strength or athleticism.
New England’s system and everything Brady does depends on his timing, quick release and solid pass protection. But that’s not what Pats fans have to get excited about when Brady returns.
It’s Brady’s wrath.
Pretty much anytime we’ve seen Brady get pushed down or have his skills or character attacked, he’s come back with a vengeance. Last year when the #Deflategate stuff almost earned him a four-game ban, he entered 2016 red hot and drove the Pats to the AFC title game.
The year before that he had a bad outing in Kansas City and everyone thought he was washed up. Brady turned back the clock and the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl.
When you bet against Tom Brady, it doesn’t seem to work out too well. Starting with a hapless Browns team in game five, Brady figures to unleash all of the rage he’s bottled up through the first four weeks.
Records could be broken. Heads will roll. And ew England may gain so much momentum, they never get stopped. This is what happens when you poke the beast, folks.
Gronk Will Own All
One reason to believe in Brady is he still has a slew of elite weapons. It’s hilarious that people often don’t look at Julian Edelman as a legit #1 wide receiver or think Danny Amendola or Chris Hogan are scrubs.
All three of those guys are basically the same shifty wide receiver and they all have great hands and run pristine routes.
That’s not even where we get excited, though. Gronk hasn’t truly played at all in 2016 and judging on Brady’s revenge and the numbers he’s used to putting up, we can probably expect an enormous year the rest of the way for Gronkowski.
We thought this guy was a beast before. Look out.
It’s pretty startling how good this defense has looked, even though they traded away Chandler Jones and lost Rob Ninkovich to a suspension. Despite that, they stifled the Cardinals in Arizona, kept the Dolphins at bay until a late run and made the Texans look like a college team running a bad spread offense.
New England is still adapting without Chandler Jones and they don’t have Ninkovich, yet through three games (understand that they played one more game than most teams) they’re 4th in points allowed per game (15) and 9th in rushing yards allowed per game. In fact, their ranking might look even better once everyone plays in week three.
On paper, the run defense looks strong, this defense holds firm when teams get in the red-zone and over time there is potential for a middling pass defense.
LeGarrette Blount, Human Hammer
One thing that has been massive for the Pats to this point and should only aid the team going forward is LeGarrette Blount and the running game.
New England knew it’d have to run the ball while Tom Brady was out if they were going to do well, and despite every defense they’ve faced knowing this as well, they’ve done exactly that.
Blount has been a true masher, rolling his way to 100+ rushing yards in each of the last two games and scoring in each contest. New England has impressed in other areas, but riding an underrated Blount may be their best move yet.
He’s doing it all on his own in the backfield, too, which is a scary thought considering Dion Lewis isn’t back yet.
Take That, NFL
Brady wants to show everyone what’s up when he gets back, but don’t you think the Patriots as a whole do, too? That’s their quarterback, after all.
Suspending Brady as a slap in the face to everyone on the Pats, who understandably wouldn’t mind sticking it to Roger Goodell and the entire league by running the table and winning another Super Bowl.
Sweet revenge is a fine narrative for a team that actually did go 16-0 once before and seems plenty capable of doing it again.
Even aside from the revenge game, let’s consider how close these Pats were to repeating as champs a year ago. Like, a two-point conversion-close.
Brady and co. ran into a buzzsaw in an elite Denver pass rush, yet battled back and nearly forced overtime in a brutal AFC title game clash. It didn’t go their way in the end, but they haven’t forgotten that game, nor how close they were to glory for a second straight season.
Two Super Bowls in the past three years would probably do, though.
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