For the Patriots, gone are the days of ruling the AFC East; the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins, once the jester's to the Patriots Kingdom, now have earned their place in the high court of the AFC East. No longer can we count on the Patriots decade of dominance to continue for years to come.
The NFL landscape seems to change from year to year but one thing seems clear, Bill Belichick appears stuck in the past and it's time for a philosophy change. As of late, the Patriots and Belichick have lost their luster, that glow of a champion. Now there are very few teams, a handful maybe that can match up with the Patriots offense, and that goes without saying. But defensively, the Patriots lack what other teams bring. There is no moxie, toughness, and playmakers that apply pressure that is needed in today's game. They have become very predictable, or dare I say boring. Gone is the mad scientist that roamed the sidelines with his gray hoodie, concocting defensive schemes to deceive and ruse the other team. What is left is a man who seems to have lost that spark, that creative fire and causes us to question if he truly was the genius we believed him to be.
No longer can Belichick rely on a bend but don't break style defense that eventually will get to the quarterback. He does not have the luxury of Ty Law locking down one side of the field for him anymore. He needs a defense that applies pressure to force teams to make quick decisions. The Patriots need to dictate the tone of the game and not allow the other teams offense to set it.
Let's turn our attention to the hated Jets as an example of the type of coaching needed to win games today. What the Jets have shown us is that we do not need an all-world offense to win games, something the Pats never had when winning Super Bowls. It was and continues to be the defense that makes a difference, and Rex Ryan has demonstrated this. His infectious attitude combines in your face defense with mind blowing schemes that has the Jets flying high. Where do you think Adalius Thomas will end up if the Patriots let him go? He will be another cog in Rex Ryan's blitzkrieg defense, and trust me, he will be utilized correctly. The Jets are not alone in their ability to close the gap in the AFC East, the Dolphins and Bills have also made vast improvements...but that is a story for another day.
Teams don't fear the Patriots, as they once did; not just in the AFC East but throughout the NFL. Has the NFL caught up to Bill Belichick and his defensive schemes? Can you remember the last time Bill outsmarted another coach to lead his team to a victory? These are just some of the questions that need to be asked when evaluating Belichick's value to the Patriots.
Don't get me wrong, as a Patriots fan I want no one else on the sidelines for my team, but the way that he employs his 3-4 defense may not be with the current NFL thinking? Is it time to stop the revolving door of being a hybrid defense? Would it not be better to be great at one style of defense than okay with multiple fronts? I know that Belichick and the Patriots are not ready to give up the key to the suite in the AFC East palace. But if they don't change soon, teams will surely move in chanting to the Patriots and Bill Belichick; "the NFL will take this crown from you, the Patriots can't use it anymore, that long cold black cloud is coming down, the NFL is knocking on Belichick's door".