Easily #1 Defense? By the end of the year they were pretty badly exposed, and it was more fitting to call them a top 5 defense at best. You can say they had the best secondary, and maybe still do, but they were shown to be a defense that's mostly great in situational football and could never stop the run.
"Since the Brady/Belichick era began, the Patriots are 13-6." Convenient that you said the 'Brady/Belichick' era, and not just the Belichick era, otherwise you'd have to add an extra 5-11 season. And that's doing him a service because it doesn't include the Browns years.
Honestly, it just keeps getting more clear how delusional you are. I'm not even trying to disprove that Bill Belichick is the best coach in the league, because he is. But when you look at how hard it was for the Steelers to win 8 games last year with arguably the second best coach in the league, and right now the Patriots aren't as good or talented on either side of the ball, just looking at the team on paper. No one can win games alone (especially if they're not even on the field), and you should've realised that by now.
I mean, it wasn't bad enough that you spent the whole of last season in denial, but here you are still in denial, believing the Patriots can still get away with not having to rebuild after 20 years, even after the cornerstone of the team has left.
Ah, how I missed you and your lovely penchant for dismissing anyone who disagrees with you as delusional or in denial.
>Easily #1 Defense? By the end of the year they were pretty badly exposed
Over the final seven games of the season, they only gave up more than 350 yards in a game once. They forced more than one turnover a game. They never allowed a team to reach 30 points, and only two teams surpassed 24. All of those measures are best in the NFL. So, yes, easily #1 defense in the league. The 49ers, widely regarded as the second best defense in the league for comparison's sake, gave up 350 yards in a game or more twice times (as well as 348 yards once), 400 yards once, 30 points or more twice, and forced "only" one turnover per game. The only games in which they were "exposed," as you put it, were Baltimore (who exposed just about everyone up until the playoffs) and the Derrick Henry palooza, which given what he did to both Baltimore and KC (at least before Vrabel just decided to stop running the ball), I'm not too embarrassed about either.
>Have you actually paid any attention to player transactions?
..have you? Assuming the Patriots stick with their 3-4 scheme (which, again, things can change depending on personnel), last year's starters were J. McCourty, D. McCourty, Gilmore, Chung, Hightower, Collins, Simon, Van Noy, Guy, Winovich, and Shelton. We return 8 of those 11 starters. That's pretty damn close to keeping the entirety of your statistically best defense in the league back. And most of the holes can be filled by players who played significant time last year while not in a starting position.
>"Since the Brady/Belichick era began, the Patriots are 13-6." Convenient that you said the 'Brady/Belichick' era, and not just the Belichick era, otherwise you'd have to add an extra 5-11 season. And that's doing him a service because it doesn't include the Browns years.
This argument gets wheeled out so often that it's quite frankly tiresome. Yes, Belichick had a rough start to his career in New England. But, for the love of God, that was 20 fucking years ago, in his first year with a new team. One would think there just might be some difference in how well someone performs after being with a team for not even a full season vs. being with a team for 8 or 16 years. Or, for that matter, how someone coaches two decades ago versus now.
>Are you gonna mention how he went 11-5 with Matt Cassel? A roster that was 3mins away from being perfect the previous year, and then didn't make the playoffs, with a QB who went on to make a Pro Bowl 2 years laters with the Chiefs and have a statistically better season.
...so your argument is that Belichick's teams are worse without the best QB of all time? Man, there's a surprise.
The point isn't that the 08 Patriots didn't suffer from not having Brady; it's that he was able to keep the team afloat with an inexperienced QB who had never started a game before. Sure, they missed the playoffs, but they won 11 games, and only missed the playoffs due to incredibly unfortunate luck. And, yes, that is quite impressive imo. Compare it to something like the 2011 Colts, who went from 11-5 with Peyton Manning to 2-14 without him. Your coach and how well they've prepared is extremely important in keeping a team afloat in a scenario where your best player is no longer available.
>But when you look at how hard it was for the Steelers to win 8 games last year with arguably the second best coach in the league, and right now the Patriots aren't as good or talented on either side of the ball, just looking at the team on paper.
You're...absolutely crazy if you think the Steelers' probable 2020 defense is as good as the Patriots. The Patriots are better at every single secondary position than the Steelers. Gilmore is better than Haden. J McCourty is better than Nelson. D. McCourty is better than Fitzpatrick. Chung is easily better than...Terrell Edmunds or whoever ends up as the Steelers' second safety. Bentley is better than Bush. Guy is better than Tuitt. Wise is better than Wormley.
The only positions that the Steelers potentially outdo the Patriots on defense is LB1 with Watt vs. Hightower, and DL #2 with Heyward vs. whoever the Patriots end up starting there (probably Allen). And Watt vs. Hightower is, at the very worst, close. New England's defense, especially the secondary, is far superior to Pittsburgh's.
>This isn't even taking into account that it just wouldn't be smart for the Patriots to win games next season, when they really should be jockeying for the best possible draft position to get a QB. Or do you actually believe Jarret Stidham is the future?
I'd like to see him play in a real game before making a judgement on that. He's showed promise in preseason against starting lineups, but that is obviously preseason. I wouldn't bet on him being "the future," but I'm also not going to rule it out, either. Given your status as a...what are you now, a Tampa fan since Tom's moved there? A guy with a weird desire to only cheer for a single player? Whatever the case...I would imagine you of all people should know that late round picks shouldn't immediately be dismissed.
>I mean, it wasn't bad enough that you spent the whole of last season in denial, but here you are still in denial, believing the Patriots can still get away with not having to rebuild after 20 years, even after the cornerstone of the team has left.
...what exactly was I in denial of? My team won 12 games with an offense so injured we would've embarrassed the 2013 squad. Yeah, playoffs didn't end up how I hoped, but that's life in the NFL. 2009 and 2010 teams met a similar fate, and I don't think predicting a win then would've been "denial" either.