Saturday, May 9, 2020

Belichick Tanking 2020 Season? Complete And Utter Hogwash

May 6, 2020

There's a lot of talk going around in the media that New England Patriots' coach Bill Belichick is going to "tank" this season in order to get a high draft pick in the 2021 draft - and the notion is so un-Belichickian that it is prima-fascie absurd...

...a fraud on it's face, and the so-called "AFC Evaluator" who started the rumor is either a complete lunatic, knows nothing about Belichick, or is a disgruntled fan who is in deep mourning over Tom Brady being shown the door - and perhaps a combination of all three. Then again, he could just be some douchebag blogger who cited this unknown and perhaps completely fictional "evaluator" just to gain page views.

The blogging community is full of irreputable frauds who pretend to have some sort of anonymous insider contact, posting outrageous claims and knowing that they have a fifty-fifty chance of being right - and if they are wrong, they can blame it all on their anonymous contact to maintain their own credibility.

At issue, of course, is the minimal trust that most fans and media have in Brady's heir, second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, maybe trying to make themselves feel better about the future of the Patriots' offense by presupposing that Belichick is going to tank the 2020 season in order to log such a horrible record that they can select one of the elite quarterbacks coming out of college through the 2021 NFL draft.

But here's the thing, and there's really no getting around it: Jarrett Stidham is the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, and Bill Belichick doesn't give two shits if you like it or not.

Belichick passed on every quarterback avaiable in the draft, and wouldn't even take calls from the Cincinnati Bengals, who were trying to get any value at all out of mediocre quarterback Andy Dalton before finally releasing him. Belichick hasn't even made inquiries of free agent signal callers Jaiemis Winston or Cam Newton.

Perhaps all of this is why some ding dong started the "tanking" rumor, doing their own demented brand of math to connect the dots - but Belichick would never do such a thing, for several solid reasons...

...the most prominent of which is, well, he's Bill Belichick - and Bill Belichick is all about winning, and the amount of losing it would take to obtain a top-three pick in next year's draft would send him into a spiriling, sputtering funk - and if you think he's terse with the media now, addressing them after losing so many games would be like watching an episode of Judge Judy.

But as bad as that would be, tanking would also destroy the culture of the Patriots that Belichick has propogated for the past two decades.

Losing creates a culture that impacts everything and everyone, from the team owner to the guys cleaning the toilets. Losing is a cancer that invades the very core of a sports franchise, and although he played doctor with the Cleveland Browns back in the mid-nineties and brought the franchise to the brink of remission before being uncerimoniously dismissed, he'd rather not put himself in position where he would have to go through that again.

Not to mention that destroying that culture would have a residual effect of making New England a far less desirable destination for free agents, many of whom in the past have wanted to sign with the Patriots simply to escape losing cultures and to have a shot at a title - not to mention the effect it would have on current players, many of whom have taken less money as a free agent over the years to re-sign with the team.

To lose while being competative is honorable, if also dejecting, but to lose by holding back is sandbagging, a dishonorable ploy that no one except lawyers respect, no matter the advantage it brings.

And about that, Belichick cares very much - but even if he didn't, the idea wouldn't sit too well with the veteran players on his roster, affecting the aforementioned culture to the point that those players wouldn't be racing to get in line for new contracts or extensions to hang around.

To that point, there would eventually be some sort of pushback from the players, and chaos would ensue, eventually driving both them and Belichick himself out the door in short order.

In truth, however, Belichick may have come dangerously close to alienating the veterans on his roster last season, and did alienate Brady - or maybe it was Brady alienating Belichick by showing up at post-game pressers looking like someone pissed in his granola and not so subtly bitching about how inert the offense was...

...which wasn't necessarily by design, as Belichick brought in help in the form of Antonio Brown (briefly) and Mohamed Sanu - but Brown turned out to be a post-juvenile delinquent who was all flash (pun intended) and no substance, while Sanu broke as soon as he arrived in Foxborough and contributed next to nothing.

So, it's not like Belichick didn't try to appease his star quarterback, but injury crippled his offense in a way that nobody could have survived, not even Brady - but the good news was that the Patriots were in every game that they lost, a missed play here and there dooming them to having to play in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and an early exit from the tournament.

And I'm off subject a bit, but it is important to know that Belichick never broke stride in his plan for life after Brady - even to the detriment of the offense last season - and, if Stidham turns out to be a good-to-very-good quarterback in the system that Belichick has set up for him, the Patriots will still be in the hunt for a division title and more.

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