Is This Really The End of the Patriots Dynasty?

Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, Head Coach Bill Belichick, Owner Robert Kraft, and President Jonathan Kraft hold the Patriots six Lombardi trophies at a ring ceremony celebrating their Super Bowl LIII victory.

Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, Head Coach Bill Belichick, Owner Robert Kraft, and President Jonathan Kraft hold the Patriots six Lombardi trophies at a ring ceremony celebrating their Super Bowl LIII victory.

Matt Spalding, Student Journalist

On January 4th, as Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and the rest of the Tennessee Titans upset the 5-point-favorite New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium, the world rejoiced as it was seemingly the end of one of the most decorated dynasties in the history of modern sports. 

The defeat also marked the end of one of the most detested dynasties ever. 

Allegations of cheating, controversial political views, and the allure of simply being the best, made the Patriots and their core trio of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft very easy to root against.

The Patriots limped into the playoffs, going 4-4 in their final eight games, with a shocking week 17 loss at home to the lowly Dolphins, who will pick 5th in this April’s NFL Draft. To put into perspective how far the Patriots had fallen, they beat that same Dolphins team 43-0 on the road in week 2, when it looked like the Patriots could be shooting for a second 16-0 season in the past 12 years. 

A lot had changed, though, for both teams in those few months. Former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, now Head Coach of the Dolphins, coached up a talent-lacking Dolphins’ roster and somehow got five wins out of it. 

The Patriots, meanwhile, welcomed All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown on that sunny day in Miami, and in limited appearances he impressed, catching a touchdown. Things were looking up for the Patriots.  Brady may have finally been feeling his age, but he had the elite supporting cast around him to offset that. The defense was putting up all-time great stats in the first part of the season, dominating every opponent they faced. 


Then came the second half of the season. And the Ravens.


Baltimore made the Patriots look like a team that would’ve barely snuck into the playoffs. Running all over the defense, soon-to-be MVP Lamar Jackson dominated with his legs, while constant pressure from the defensive line made sure that Brady would be taking a long ice bath afterwards. 

The final score was 37-20, and the world-beater mentality that had quickly surrounded the Patriots in the first half of the season was quickly forgotten. 

Three more losses to the Texans, Chiefs, and Dolphins meant that the Patriots failed to gain a first-round bye, and for the first time in 10 years would be playing on Wild Card Weekend. The mood surrounding Pats’ Nation was rather sour following the Dolphins loss. The once fantastic wide receiver core that surrounded the aging Brady had almost completely vanished. 

Antonio Brown was released the Friday after the blowout in Miami. Josh Gordon was placed on injured reserve on October 23rd, and was released soon after. Brady, who is increasingly dependent on the skill position players surrounding him on offense, suddenly had no trustworthy skill players left. The retirement of Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski had hit a lot harder than most had expected, as even though Gronkowski was not playing at his formerly All-Pro level at the end of his career, he still attracted plenty of attention from defenses and was still able to make big plays when it mattered. 

Gronk was clutch when it mattered multiple times in the playoffs the previous year against the Chiefs and in the Super Bowl against the Rams. The last catch of his career set up the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots were left extremely thin this year at tight end, and injuries to  tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt Lacosse throughout the season didn’t help. The ability for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to run two tight end sets to try and open up other parts of the offensive was pretty much gone. 

This multitude of factors meant that the Patriots offense stumbled into the playoffs, struggling immensely throughout the second half of the season. Brady’s performances were mediocre, but not close to the ability required to carry a lackluster supporting cast like he did in 2013 and 2015, where the Patriots narrowly missed out on Super Bowl appearances due to lack of offensive talent. 

On the other side of the football, the defense was as good as ever in 2019. Despite the departure of defensive coordinator Brian Flores, the Patriots defense was arguably better this year than last. Excluding the beatdown they took midseason in Baltimore, the Patriots defense was the main reason for the Patriots 12-4 record this year. And they took that 12-4 record into a Wild Card matchup with the Tennessee Titans expecting once again to appear in the Divisional Round.


Before, during, and after the 20-13 loss to the Titans, rumors swirled of Brady potentially calling it a career. Although there were no credible reports to fuel this story, media outlets instead cited his age as the reason for why the legendary quarterback might hang ‘em up this offseason. 

Brady, who is well known for being in fantastic shape, has always said that he’s wanted to play until he was 45.. The possibility always remains that he could shockingly join another team, though, as this offseason he’s an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his 20 year career. There are no signs that l Belichick, who turns 68 in April, will be retiring or leaving the organization anytime soon. 

The Patriots’ dynasty has to come to an end at some point, but when will that be? Brady and Belichick would like to say that age is just a number, but the reality is that both of their careers will have to come to an end eventually. 

Fortunately enough, for the dynamic duo, persuading players to join the system and be a part of ‘The Patriot Way’ known so well for winning is a relatively easy task. So, for all of those NFL fans already celebrating the fall of the mighty Patriots, hold your horses. Reports of their demise may have been greatly exaggerated.