BOSTON (CBS) — It’s all over. Wrap it up. A solid two-decade run, no doubt. But the party’s over. Turn out the lights. Go home.
That seems to be the overwhelming message being sent by the football community to the New England Patriots in a post-Tom Brady world. Even though Brady was far from great last year — he had his lowest touchdown total since 2006, his lowest completion percentage since 2013, and his lowest full-season yardage total since 2010 — the power rankers of the world are using his departure to officially shovel some dirt on top of the Patriots’ dynasty.
Here’s a look at where some power rankings around the internet are placing the Patriots among their NFL competition. In some cases, it’s not pretty.
After a loss on wild card weekend, everyone knew the Patriots weren’t a top-five NFL team last year. But dropping all the way to 20th? That is rather drastic.
“The Tom Brady/Bill Belichick Pats are the greatest dynasty the game has ever seen. And it’s over now,” the B/R staff bluntly stated.
Citing the loss of Brady, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, “the Patriots have holes all over the place on both sides of the ball and (as things stand now) will enter 2020 with either journeyman Brian Hoyer or second-year pro Jarrett Stidham at quarterback.”
Bleacher Report went so far as to predict a sub-.500 season forthcoming for Bill Belichick’s team.
A fairly blunt assessment from Nate Davis: “Unless one of their rookie tight ends pop, QB Jarrett Stidham will be operating same weapon-deficient offense that hindered Brady in 2019.”
Resting the entire hopes of the offense on the shoulders of Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi seems a bit extreme.
Considering the source, this ranking isn’t too bad. (We’d expect a 32nd ranking coming from the Post, frankly.)
“Bill Belichick’s defense will keep the games close, but will Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer — or a mystery guest — be able to find a way to win them with a paucity of quality weapons not named Julian Edelman or James White? The retirement of elite OL coach Dante Scarnecchia hurts,” Steve Serby wrote.
The Patriots dropped five spots after the draft in Pete Prisco’s rankings, the biggest drop of any team.
“This team clearly looks to be in rebuild mode. They had a lot of draft picks and much of them looked like down-the-road players,” Prisco wrote. “Can Jarrett Stidham play?”
The staff at The Athletic appears to be underwhelmed by the Patriots’ moves — or lack thereof — since losing in January.
“There you have it,” the write-up said. “The Patriots have shown us their quarterback plan and it’s Jarrett Stidham (and Brian Hoyer). No veteran additions, no highly drafted rookies. (And somehow, this plan didn’t change our thoughts about the Patriots, who, despite a massive fall after Brady’s departure, remain steady at No. 17 since our post-free agency rankings.)”
That’s a massive drop for the Patriots, who ranked at sixth in The Athletic’s power rankings at the end of the 2019 regular season.
ESPN’s post-draft rankings dropped the Patriots down two spots, as they previously ranked 13th following the first wave of free agency. The reason for that drop seems to be the Patriots’ decision to pass on drafting any quarterback.
The major anomaly of the group, Yahoo’s Frank Schwab still thinks highly of the Patriots.
“The floor for a Bill Belichick-coached team seems like eight wins no matter who the quarterback is (and I’m not going to listen to examples that cite Belichick seasons a generation ago),” Schwab wrote. “He’s going to find a way to win more games than we think the Patriots will this season. While this ranking seems high on first glance, I’m going to have a hard time putting the greatest coach in NFL history much lower.”
Really, all of the takes are fair, from the worst ones to the best ones. There are some serious questions about the offense. Namely, if Tom Brady couldn’t make it work, how can anyone else, let alone Stidham or Hoyer?
Defensively, the unit most likely can’t repeat its performance as the No. 1 defense in the NFL. But with arguably the league’s best secondary, with their top three picks coming on defense, and with another year of experience under the belts of Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo, the D should still be among the NFL’s best.
Interestingly, the football minds of America are thinking fairly highly of the Buffalo Bills. That’s with good reason, too, as the Bills showed they were right there with the Patriots in 2019 and appear ready to pounce to unseat the Patriots. Yahoo and CBS had the Bills at fifth, while The Athletic had them at sixth. They certainly deserve that kind of attention on paper; how Josh Allen and Sean McDermott can handle that level of expectations in Buffalo will determine whether it’s all a waste of energy.
Of course, it’s mid-May right now, so any such rankings are generally wastes of energy. Nevertheless, a scope around the country provides an interesting perspective on how steeply the Patriots have fallen in the minds of those who follow the game quite closely.