“Smartest Man in Football ?”
Downcast, sullen, seething, disappointed. Slouching shoulders, a scowl on his face, and disinterested.
That’s what losing out on a chance to go to the Super Bowl can do to an NFL head coach.
Bill Belicheck addressed the throngs of Boston media, less than 8-hours after his New England Patriots fell 1-play short of making it back to the Super Bowl.
Though if you read the list of questions fired at him by the Patriots press, you realize it wasn’t just the two point conversion the Pats failed on. It seems to be a series of failures that stretch back thru the entire season.
The Broncos win over New England was more than just a Von Miller series of big pass rush plays. It was more than just the two interceptions. It surely involved all the hits quarterback Tom Brady took.
The final stat sheet is staggering, something you cannot file away and forget. Brady sackded 4-times, throws 2-picks, took 20-hits, and was pressure 19-other times. A quarterback rating of (56.4), that’s right, a Tom Brady QB-rating of (56.4).
But this loss you could see coming from 2,000-miles away, at least I did. Despite his heroics, the legendary coach let him down, the front office let him down, and his teammates let him down.
Belicheck, who never tolerates second guessing, has invited tons of it now.
Why did he rest all his key veterans, except Brady, in the final game of the regular season in Miami, when a win against the lowly Dolphins would havge guaranteed the Patriots home-field advantage for all the AFC playoffs? Don’t think that would made a difference, in a Gillette Stadium environment, where Brady is (114-20) in his career in home games? Where Belicheck is (15-1) in postseason in home games?
The coach who controls all, elected not to kick field goals twice on 4th downs deep in Denver territory, that could have cut the deficity to the point where the Broncos could have won with a field goal on the final last second drive after the Rob Gronkowski 40-yard catch on 4th down.
Oddly, the man who pushed the NFL to change the PAT rule last off season, gets stung by the rule, when his great kicker Steven Gostkowski misses one after putting 523-straight kicks thru the uprights.
The problems are deeper than just the Sunday game management.
It should be apparent the Belicheck philsophy of hiring street free agent running backs to compliment Brady, doesn’t work all that well. Aside from Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen, journeyman at best, when was the last big name Patriots running back you feared?
The Brady beating came because of a pourous frontline. Injuries did take a toll, but running off Logan Mankins amongst others, spelled problems for the quarterback. He took a similar pounding thru a 3-game stretch in November and December.
They do draft well on the defensive side of the ball, and they have made a tremendous transition from the Teddy Bruschi era, to the Vince Wilfork era, to now.
The clock is running out on Brady’s brilliance. Aside from Pete Carroll’s play-calling blunder down on the goal line in last year’s Super Bowl, shunning aside a Marshawn Lynch 1-foot run, for a Russell Wilson pass-pick, Belicheck has not really won a Super Bowl since ‘Spygate’.
Of course Spygate was followed by Delflate Gate, followed by fines and loss of this coming year’s first round draft pick.
Belicheck is brilliant and beliggerant, arrogant and the annointed, but he can still be held accountable.
This will be painful, this offseason after the postseason failure. His body language, his tone of speech, said it all on Monday morning.
Tom Brady’s play did not cost the Pats a return trip to the Super Bowl for a 9th time. Belichieck’s failures on the field, and off the field before that, was equally as damaging.
They fell 1-play short of a comeback, but the truth is the Patriots are dying a a death of a thousand paper cuts because of the so-called smartest man in football.