The Patriots are off to their worst start since 2000 and with star receiver Julian Edelman looking at a potentially lengthy absence (not to mention the growing trade buzz surrounding reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore), things in Foxboro will probably get worse before they get better. Meanwhile Tom Brady has done all he can to rub salt in the wound, experiencing a career resurgence with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New England’s rough start has the Patriots—who, in a typical year, would have the pillow-soft AFC East wrapped up by now—wondering who to blame. Former Jets and Ravens linebacker Bart Scott made the rounds on ESPN Friday morning, opining on the Patriots’ struggles in no uncertain terms. “This is a bigger indictment on Bill Belichick, not the coach, but the general manager and his ability to surround his team with talent,” said Scott, noting the Patriots haven’t drafted a Pro Bowler since Jamie Collins in 2013. “Maybe Bill Belichick, the general manager, should be fired and on the hot seat.”
That was not a popular opinion on the set of “Get Up” as former Patriot Rob Ninkovich responded to Scott’s criticism of Belichick by pulling a clown mask over his face. Based on what he’s seen early in 2020, Scott thinks it’s obvious who was steering the ship during the Brady/Belichick Era. “It didn’t matter who was out there at receiver, [Brady] would make it work,” said the former Pro Bowler. “He was the reason why that organization was successful for all those years. Because you take him away and it’s like when LeBron left the Cavaliers. It’s like, you won with these cats?”
Scott may be guilty of some revisionist history here. Brady’s supporting cast was better some years than others, but he wasn’t exactly slumming it with Rob Gronkowski, Randy Moss, Julian Edelman and Wes Welker. Scott is right about one thing though—the Patriots don’t look like a particularly motivated or well-equipped football team at the moment. While Brady has spent his 2020 throwing to Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and the aforementioned Gronkowski, Cam Newton has had to make ends meet with Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry and of course, the Patriots’ endless parade of running backs (James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris).
After years of doing both, is it time the Patriots’ legendary coach relinquishes his GM responsibilities to focus on X’s and O’s? Scott seems to thinks so and, given New England’s current state, he’s probably not alone in that school of thought.