Throughout history there have been some pretty idiotic things said. Just among Patriots fans, I've seen people suggest we trade Brady, Gronkowski, and fire Belichick. Across the web, arguments have been made that the Patriots wouldn't have won a single Superbowl had it not been for Spygate. Long ago, people thought the earth was flat and the center of the universe. Not quite as long ago, the Titanic was labeled "unsinkable." When talking errors, mistakes, and just all-around facepalm-worthy events on a historical level, there is some pretty good competition.
Another thing I've heard of late is that, given Brady's age and the state of the team, their window to win a championship is either closed or closing. Reacting to such a claim is a bit difficult, but once you wrap your head around it and fully appreciate what is being said you're bound to have at least one question: Based off what? Was their #2 seed not good enough? Does their 12-4 finish suggest they're a team on the decline? Does the fact that Brady was the front-runner for MVP for much of November and December suggest he's not the QB he once was?
Or perhaps is it the young, up-and-coming defense that was at the top of the league in turnovers that is the problem. Maybe Ridley, the team's second-year, dynamic running back and his breakout season thats hurting them. Maybe it was the way Belichick nailed the draft this year, landing at least three starters one of which looked Pro-Bowl bound before an injury.
Then again, maybe it wasn't that at all - maybe it was Belichick's draft the year before, where we got the previously mentioned dynamic young RB and two other starters to boot. Looking back further, it probably could have even been the 2010 draft where we landed not one but two all-time great TEs, a stud linebacker, top-tier safety/CB hybrid, and above average punter to be the cherry on top.
For those folks who claim the Patriots window to win a championship is closing, which one of these things where you thinking of? Which one suggests the Patriots are on the decline?
Going further, I think about the issue of other teams. Most Superbowls these days are generally close games - even this year the 49ers, down multiple touchdowns, managed to come back and keep it competitive down to the final seconds. Lately, its been rare to see a team make it to the Superbowl and then be completely dominated.
So if we win the AFC every year, I think our window to winning a Championship looks pretty damn open. While we have gotten profoundly stronger since the late 2000s with good draft and consistently great QB play, its safe to say the AFC has only gotten weaker. The Colts, once bordering on a dynasty, are now in rebuilding mode. The Steelers are well past their prime and lucky to even make the playoffs. The Ravens where an old team that, in 2012, had one final burst of glory before no doubt fading into a time of noncontention.
Even within their division, the Patriots have it easy. Not long ago, they and the Jets where considered equals. Some of the same people claiming the window is closing today where likely the ones promising a "changing of the guard" in 2010. A mere two years later, they couldn't be more wrong as the Jets have been reduced to one big comic highlight of interceptions, butt-fumbles, false bravado and disappointed fans. The Bills, despite high expectations over the past two seasons, still always came through as the Bills we know and love.
Thus, the Patriots have competition from two sources: the Dolphins within the division, and the Broncos as a conference opponent. Of these two, only the Broncos and their 37 year old QB, his 4-8 record against Brady, and status as the all-time losingest post-season QB pose a real threat. I dunno about you, but I like our chances.
By this point, I'm a little confused - do these folks who say the Patriots window is closing have ANY facts on their side? Is there anything, anywhere, to suggest they are right?
In desperation, they might look for holes in the team itself. But what holes are there? Where do you find a weakness? They have an elite QB, who passes from behind an elite line. They have a group of talented RBs with varying skills, no doubt the strongest RB core the team has had in years. Their TEs are elite with strong depth and their WR core, when including Welker, is still above average. On defense, Wilfork and the line have anchored the team for years. Backing them up is one of the greatest linebacking groups in the NFL, while Talib and Dennard make a nice duo of CBs. Only safety and CB depth can be called true weaknesses, yet both are probably at least average and can be improved with 2013's draft. Is someone really going to try to claim that the Patriots do not have enough talent to win the Superbowl? Is someone really going to try to claim they have significantly less talent then the Ravens, Giants, Packers, or Saints?
And yes, for that special breed of idiots out there, there are players on the Patriots that other teams fear - Talib, Spikes, and McCourty on defense, or Gronk and Mankins on offense. Soon, teams will also learn to fear Hightower and Jones.
During their Super Bowl winning years, both the Giants and the Ravens faced considerable adversity. The Giants suffer a yearly November-December collapse, during which many fans often call for Coughlin to be fired. Who, besides the fool mentioned at the beginning of this post, has ever seriously questioned Belichick? The Ravens went a step further though, and actually did fire a major coach at the most important part of the season. If the "window is closing" and "the Patriots are on a decline" now, what would be said if they where to do such a thing?
At this point, all I can conclude is that there is a double standard. When the Patriots drop from 13-3 to 12-4, the sky is falling. Their franchise is done, the window has closed, they're past their prime. When any other team such as the Ravens or Giants backs into the playoffs with 9 or 10 wins, everybody just accepts they have as good a chance as their opponents.
From there it all becomes clear. In the minds of those that believe the window is closed or closing, the Patriots are bad because they are good. Based solely on the fact that the Patriots have had success in the past and are a well run franchise, they conclude the team is on the decline. Using bizarre, backwards and twisted logic, they try to conclude the team is headed down when it is infact blatantly obvious it is moving up. Neutral evolution in which a team changes without getting worse, to them, cannot happen.
And to tie it all up nice with a silver bow, this brings me back to the introduction: Is claiming a team is bad because it is good not an exceedingly dense, dull, and dumb thing to do? Is there not more logic, in, say, claiming a gargantuan metal boat would be able to plow through what appears to be a small clump of ice? Is claiming a team that for the past two years made it to the AFCCG has "no shot" at the Superbowl not vastly more foolish then suggesting the earth is infact, as it generally appears to be, flat?
I know if I ever ruin a billion-dollar satellite because I used the wrong ruler, I'll at least be able to take solace in the fact that my fail wasn't quite the largest ever.