2020 is officially here, and for the first time in a decade, the New England Patriots are not in the divisional round of the playoffs. For the first time in nine years, Tom Brady is not competing in the AFC championship.The Pats will not make a record-setting fourth straight Super Bowl appearance this year.
With younger QBs emerging, the AFC will have a different QB play in the Super Bowl this year other than Brady, Peyton Manning or Big Ben Roethlisberger. It probably feels surreal for some dedicated NFL fans to not see one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time play for a shot at the Lombardi this early in January.
The New England Patriots have been dominant in the league ever since Tom Brady joined the team in the early 2000s. For the better part of two decades, it’s been the Patriots’ world and the rest of the league has just been living in it.
Now, as the 2020s commence, the question that bugs our mind is: has the Patriots’ dynasty officially ended?
Well, Tom Brady will be 43 years old to start the 2020 season, but still looked sharp at times in 2019. Age is an important factor going forward, but the quest for a 7th Super Bowl is certainly on Brady’s mind, though he has nothing left to prove in reality. This just shows his passion for the game and his motivation to keep doing what he loves. No matter how many teams he beats, Brady will ultimately lose to Father Time. If it’s not 2020, then it maybe 2021 where we finally see Brady regress significantly.
The Brady-Belichick era has been defined by brilliance, fame, triumph, and championship mettle. The Patriot Way has been a blueprint for success in the NFL through doing your job, teamwork, never underestimating opponents, and not beating yourself. Brady’s teams have had stellar defenses like in 2019, record-setting offenses like in 2007, and gritty Super Bowl wins like against Seattle and Atlanta in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
However, as time runs its course, it may spark a new era in New England this upcoming offseason.
See, Brady and Belichick have gone together like Tom and Jerry or peanut butter and jelly. You don’t see one without the other, and it’s hard to imagine how each would have fared without the other’s expertise.
Now that Tom Brady is a free agent this upcoming offseason, he has a tough decision to make about his future. Though retiring with a pick-six as a last throw is very, very improbable for the GOAT, could Brady take his talents to another team?
If either Brady or Belichick leave, one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports will all but crumble early in this new decade. In comparison, Michael Jordan was in business in the mid ‘90s, and the Golden State/Miami “dynasties” lasted for a half decade. The point is dynasties are hard to build and sustain in professional sports, which makes the Patriots’ 20-year run of success more remarkable.
It’s a testament to the work ethic and drive of two men despite all the changing parts around them for two decades. We have all heard the saying in regards to Brady and Belichick, there’s always a chance.
Even in recent years, the Patriots were down but never out. In the 2016 Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons had them on the ground before they erupted. In 2018, many predicted the end of the road for a “washed up” 40-year-old QB before he went on a tear and knocked off three teams with explosive capabilities.
2019 was a glimpse into what the Patriots MIGHT morph into this decade. Granted the skill positions were lacking, NE still had a 12-win season, though there was a different aura to this team. We always expect the Patriots to adjust and play their best football in December, but it never materialized this season, and the loss to division rival Miami in Week 17 highlighted the teams’ overall deficiencies.
The loss to Tennessee in the 2019 Wild Card may have been the changing of a throne from the Brady and Belichick stranglehold on the AFC to younger, rising teams. If Brady returns, the Patriots should always remain a contender because of him; but it’s important to note everyone’s prime always runs out and Brady is much past his.
New England’s current need for improvement stretches beyond one position, but this is not a rebuilding team. If the Patriots want to reach the Super Bowl once again this decade for Tom Brady’s potential final ring, they will need a stronger offensive line, a Gronk-like tight end replacement, and young speedy receivers who can help Tom maximize his talent. With many AFC quarterbacks hitting their “prime” soon like Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson, Brady’s golden chance may have even ended after his sixth Super Bowl.
So, has the dynasty ended? Well, nobody knows what the future holds. Inevitably, it will end as both Brady and Belichick will retire at some point. But as of now, the unpredictability of the NFL shadows any definitive conclusion.
Only time will tell what happens to this storied sports dynasty, but if Brady and Belichick both return in 2020, history suggests it would be wise not to count them out.