Chase Winovich Reminds Me: The ‘Patriots’ Way’ is Near-Death/Dead...
I’ve read a few notes about Patriots DE/OLB Chase Winovich falling behind others on the depth chart/the team is upset with him this offseason. Seeing the same note and hearing it from people several times now, it made me think – I was very high on Chase Winovich coming out of Michigan in my studies, and he flashed well as a rookie (5.5 sacks, 10 QB hits in limited duty)…he had a great Combine and had high character, so how is it that three years later he somehow sucks? I would have never thought he’d bust…I thought he’d only get better.
…which then made me think – many of us thought Winovich and N’Keal Harry were the staples of a very good 2019 draft by the Patriots…and now both are considered near-busts.
…which made me start to wonder: is ‘the Patriot Way’ fully dead now? Is Bill Belichick just terrible at drafting players and coaching up young players? Should Belichick just trade all his draft picks and get existing players off the scrap heap (his specialty)? Is Belichick’s staff terrible…considering both Harry and Winovich are not improving…entering the league with such high character and great college performance coming -- and yet they’ve gotten worse with each season? Where is the coaching?
Has time passed Belichick by?
The 2020 draft class looks like a disaster now…Damien Harris is good/great but has been overlooked/misused most of his first two seasons. Harry and Winovich are fading away. Jarrett Stidham has been terrible/not gotten better under the Belichick master tutelage. Joejuan Williams was an ill-advised/reach 2nd-round pick then, as well as now…a too slow DB who has been too slow in the pros, imagine that? And the Pats paid a 2nd-round pick for it! 10 picks made in 2020, and really no major help at all…outside of a punter.
Going back a few years… In the 2018 draft, the Pats had OT Isaiah Wynn fall into their laps in the 1st-round, but he’s been hurt both of his first two seasons. Sony Michel was also taken in the 1st-round…and today, no one cares…nor do the Patriots, who declined his 5th-year option (BECAUSE YOU DON’T TAKE AVERAGE RBs IN THE 1ST-ROUND!!! I thought Belichick was some kind of economic genius?). Every pick after that has busted/gone elsewhere from the 2018 class.
In 2017, all four of their draft picks have been pretty useless.
Back to the recent, in 2020 -- #37 pick Kyle Dugger looks promising, a higher pick for a lower priority safety, and the other 9 picks are mostly gone except #182 OG Michael Onwenu is a potential starter in 2021.
From 2017-2020, the Patriots have not developed a real breakout star or serious talent…nor just fallen into something wonderful (maybe if Isaiah Wynn can stay healthy…).
The Patriots are falling down…fast…and that 2021 desperation free agent overspending was a sign of the problem, not a to-be-glamorized genius solution by Bill. Players do NOT (preferably) want to play in New England anymore…Tom Brady led the exodus, and we for sure have to see Brady as ‘right about the situation’…and seen as the visionary -- the visionary that saw all this problem developing and wanted out at just the right time.
In the debate of Belichick or Brady, you have to say today…a lot of it was BRADY.
If that’s true, this 2021 Patriots team is dying while people try to pretend Belichick will be the one to sprinkle magic coaching fairy dust over it and create another miracle. But if Belichick is so smart, and his coaching so sublime – how do we explain the best he could do post-Brady was a bottom fishing deal with Cam Newton…and Newton not getting better last season (it was a bad year)? With all the QB talent flooding the NFL…Cam Newton is Belichick answer? It wasn’t even an answer…it was a last second, desperate act of a desperate coach/GM – kinda like that goulash of overpriced, underwhelming free agent talents brought in for 2021.
What if Belichick got his way a few years ago and they traded Brady and kept Jimmy Garoppolo? If Bill had his way, he would have kept Jimmy G. and let the non-wanting-to-workout-with-the-team’s-staff Brady-Gronk walk (they, and others on the Patriots, wanted to go with Brady’s medical guru ‘guy’…how dare they…that would never work, no way a QB would be better at age 43 than he was at 38…40…)
If the Patriots die this season…like a (6-11) season where they lose to the Jets and Dolphins once and to the Bills twice, etc. – isn’t Belichick’s mystique done? You look at the Patriots starting 22…and it’s pretty weak, but everyone thinks Belichick is going to Belichick his way out of it – but what if there is no such thing as a Belichick way out in 2021…what if there never was one? What if it really was a Brady thing?
What if Mac Jones is landing in a spot where he’s not going to get the new-age coaching needed to ascend to goodness/greatness? That he’s landing with a suppressive, incompetent/behind-the-times staff (see: N’Keal Harry, Jarrett Stidham, and Chase Winovich).
Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Chicago are all dying franchises…with PIT and GB hanging on via their aging elite QB. The Patriots franchise is dying with those teams too, once they lost their old elite QB…they died. What do all these teams have in common?
A list of NFL teams that are the eight furthest NORTH in Midwest/East climate/geography that play outdoors (in furthest north order, by my eye on the globe)…
1) Green Bay
2) New England
4) N.Y. Giants/N.Y. Jets
These are all places players/free agents with options do not want to play and/or live, so if the team isn’t a legit Super Bowl threat with a top head coach and a young franchise QB…these teams are ‘avoided’ by free agent talent and thus these northern/outdoor teams have to overspend to try and bring in mediocre talent via free agency as they randomly butcher their drafts year after year.
Sean McDermott single handedly saved Buffalo from their long nightmare of the same problem – the Bills’ owners should make McDermott the highest paid coach in the NFL. We’ll see if Cleveland can prove their 2020 rise was not a blip…the moment they lose momentum they’ll sink back into that hole too.
All this to say…it’s ‘over’ for the Patriots, I think – football society just hasn’t realized it yet. With/if a bad start to 2021, and the fans will turn on Belichick and gravitate even more to ‘Brady’ in the argument of the Patriots dominance of the past decade+…and then when they fully realize Belichick is to blame for Brady leaving, it’s going to get bad for Bill’s legacy. If I were him, I’d be preparing my retirement before he tarnishes his legacy big time. He’ll get a pass among Patriots’ supporters for 2020, but he won’t if 2021 is a flop.
But just like most every football player hangs on 1-2 seasons too long, and they have to be forced (unsigned) out of the league in a sad way – Belichick will likely stay in the game too long, and probably be a hot free agent coach in a year or two…which will be a sucker’s bet by whomever signs him.
All this to say…Patriots fans…Patriots offensive-player-owning Fantasy GMs…brace yourselves for what’s about to come (ditto Steelers fans when Ben is done, and Packers fans when Rodgers leaves).
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