After 20 years, 8 AFC Championship Game appearances, 9 SuperBowl Appearances, and winning 6 of those 9, the Patriots have cemented their role as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, dynasties in the history of the sport. After the departure of quarterback and future hall-of-famer Tom Brady, the Patriots finished their 2020 season with a 7-9 record. They ended up finishing with a below .500 record for the first time since 2000 and thus, missed the playoffs. After a refreshing offseason, drafting the likes of their potential future franchise quarterback, Mac Jones, this begs the question: What does the next Patriots dynasty look like? Or better yet, will there even be another Patriots dynasty?
Belichick has led the New England Patriots for over 20 years now and we’re not sure he’ll be the future of this franchise. At the age of 69, Belichick might be nearing the end of his coaching career which is sure to land him in Canton. Known as one of the greatest minds of the sport, Brady and Belichick formed one of the greatest quarterback-coach duos. Dismantling opposing defenses and forming complex defensive schemes of his own, Belichick picked apart teams like no other. However, who do we see as the next head of the team and will he be able to replicate the success Belichick had for the past two decades?
Josh McDaniels is seemingly the next heir to the throne. After 17 seasons spent with the team, McDaniels leads as the offensive coordinator of the team alongside Belichick at the sidelines. It’s been well-known that Belichick is a defensive mastermind, but the question is, does McDaniels get free-reign over the offense? Personally, I don’t see McDaniels taking over the Patriots successfully as a head coach. While he might be able to make up for the retirement of Belichick through personnel replacements, I don’t see him being able to read the game as successfully as Belichick did. One of the main pillars of the Patriots dynasty was the great defenses the Patriots have had over the years, and Belichick leaving would put the team into potentially a great roster, but a few down years on the coaching aspect.
Now I have no doubt that Belichick could’ve prepared McDaniels well during his tenure on the Patriots. The only example we could go off of are the different times a coach would split from the Belichick coaching tree, and we realize that Belichick’s presence has made that coach better than they should’ve been.
Coming into the offseason, Belichick made some of the most aggressive trade moves we’ve seen in a while. Arguably owning the most tight-end room in the NFL, he acquired Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Adding onto that a slew of receivers including Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and a late-round draft pick of Tre Nixon.
Now it’s been no secret that the Patriots lacked offensive talent for the past few years. Brady was really just that good at elevating his supporting cast, and his departure eventually prompted analysts to observe who he was really throwing to. Edelman announcing his retirement this offseason was what seemed to finally bury the old-guards of the Patriots offense. This time, it’s time for younger talent. What seemed like a breath of fresh air for the offense, Belichick made aggressive moves in the offseason and proceeded to draft Mac Jones in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Cam Newton came in last season and was able to lead the team to a 7-9 record. While it may be a bit disappointing, Cam’s larger role is in his mentorship. The former number-one overall pick is in a great position to help Mac Jones transition into the NFL-style offense. Cam’s locker room presence for the rookies is definitely a factor to the success of the team.
The future of the Patriots offense is promising. Mac Jones is a great prospect with the physical and mental ability to play in a pro-style offense. While he may come from a talented program, he is entering into one as well. Being surrounded with great weapons, a hall-of-fame caliber head coach, and a franchise rebuilding, there is now life in what was once a faltering offensive roster.
It’s no secret that the Patriots had one of the oldest defensive rosters in all of the NFL. With the retirement of safety Patrick Chung and the departure of many key players, Belichick didn’t have to become as aggressive offensively, but rather a move to compensate for some of his players leaving. After drafting 4 defensive players in the draft, one of which is 2nd round pick, Christian Barmore, Belichick seems to be keen on fielding the next great Patriots defense. While the draft was interesting to see, many defensive players have been developing over the years as well. Chase Winovich, J.C Jackson, and many others are slowly becoming more comfortable in the complex defensive scheme.
We already know that Belichick has the ability to develop great defensive players, but what we eventually have to acknowledge is that the old veterans of the defense will leave and it will be time to revamp the defense as well. However, I have nothing but faith in Belichick’s ability to develop these new, young players. The defensive side was never an issue with the Patriots since they’ve always had a great core of players who always did the job when they needed to, but it’s no secret that the veterans will eventually be replaced by younger players.
To finally answer the question, the Patriots have the potential to come close to their days as “The Dynasty”. While it will never be the same again, they have a great future in their young, developing offense and the veteran-presence of their defense. Giving credit to Brady, this team was elevated by his leadership and ability to compensate for anything offensively. However, without him, each cog in the rolling gears of the team will need to operate efficiently on their own. Offense and defense will need to click, coaching will need to be effective. The looming, eventual departure of Belichick is going to be detrimental to the franchise, but I have no doubt that he’s prepped his team to succeed in every single aspect of the game.