Everyone, please start panicking.
Dante Scarnecchia is gone. So is Pepper Johnson. Two of Bill Belichick's longest and most trusted advisers are gone. Out the door. Just like Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels (he's back!), and Dean Pees.
And now Nick Caserio's looking for a new gig in South Beach. He'll join the ranks of Thomas Dimitroff, Scott Pioli, Jason Licht, and Lionel Vital of those who have moved on to bags of greener pastures.
Gone for good and Belichick's left holding the bill.
How can the Patriots move on? They've lost some of their most important architects of both team building and game planning over the years, and it's appears as if teams are, again, ready to dip into the Patriots well of knowledge.
Luckily for the Patriots, they still have Belichick and he seems to always be able to rebuild the team after every coaching purge. And for Belichick, there are three main laws to keep the team in motion.
First Law: When in a vacuum, a team in motion will stay in motion, unless acted upon by an external force.
That is to say, a team that is successful will continue to be successful, unless something happens that directly impacts the success. Those external forces can be injuries, or free agency, or coaching changes, or "off-the-field issues." They could also be additions of stars in the draft, or unforeseen growth of young players.
There are plenty of factors, but when projecting a team over the course of the year, the team will remain in motion.
Belichick's role is to be the constant force that counters all negative forces that could disrupt the motion of the franchise (we will read about about this when examining the Third Law). So in the face of all of these coaching changes, Belichick needs to remain the constant and provide a force equal or greater than the negative force generated by the loss of Scar and Pep.
As we saw last season, Belichick's counter force is strong. No matter how many forces exerted to disrupt the team, from Aaron Hernandez, to Rob Gronkowski, to Sebastian Vollmer, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Brandon Spikes (and more!), the team still managed to make it to another conference championship. Once there, a greater force than Belichick finally managed to derail the Patriots season (and we call this opposing force the "dark side of the force").
But Belichick have already started to turn the wheels to get this team back on track and in motion for this upcoming season, with the goal of being better and stronger than the year before. Which leads us to the next law.
Second Law: Force = Mass * Acceleration.
In order for Belichick to get this team back onto the winning side, he needs to determine how much force needs to be applied. In this equation, "mass" is fairly simple. Mass is the team. The mass isn't the weight of the roster, or the quantity of players, but it's just the team. So in order to get the team accelerating on the right vector, how much force does Belichick have to apply?
Well, here comes the dirty details. Belichick is a force coming from one vector. The force necessary to compensate for losses aren't on the same vector. What if Scar and Pep and Caserio are all on different vectors than Belichick? What if that's causing the disruption of the team's motion?
Or, what if those different vectors are all needed to make this team a success?
Because Belichick knows how he likes to build his team. He likes to build a system, led by his "guys". They aren't necessarily "yes men", but they're clearly in Belichick's corner. Guys like Pioli and Dimitroff. Pep and Scar. McDaniels and Patricia. They're all guys with their own opinions, but how do they fit into the greater picture? What are their vector forces?
We've seen when coaches like Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll are on different vectors- and their time with the team is short lived. But what if these different (and not necessarily opposite) vectors are what keeps this team on track? What if Belichick needs a counter force in order to remain in motion (again, will be reviewing in the Third Law)?
Belichick might be finding himself in a position where those who feel comfortable to go against his grain are all no longer with the franchise. He might need some fresh perspectives to keep his coaching styles fresh, or to keep the team from becoming stagnant.
Because it's with these different vectors that the team can apply the right force to accelerate the team in the right direction. The determination if the team needs these various vectors lies with Belichick, and the value of his opposition lies in the next law.
Third Law: Every action has an equal and opposition reaction.
Patriots win, a team loses. Belichick adds someone to the roster, someone gets cut. A coach retires, another gets hired. There are 267 games in a football season and the goal is to create team that can get the most success out of those games.
Belichick has a lot of work in order to adjust the team's vectors and he has to start planning his opposite reactions to what has already transpired this off-season. No one plans better than Belichick, having contingency plans in place to prepare and limit the impact of negative actions, and you can be certain that the gears are turning.
We mentioned that Belichick's role is to be the counterforce to all negative forces that hit the team. He is the opposite reaction and when opportunity comes to the door, Belichick is the one who knocks. But he can't do it alone. His vector can only accelerate the team in a direction so much. He needs to surround himself with coaches and players who can help propel this team back to the top.
The opposite forces have already started to make their moves, but Belichick has a plan. He has laid down the laws. While there may be questions surrounding who will be the vectors that join the team, Belichick already knows the answer to how he will keep this team in motion.
I sincerely apologize to anyone who knows anything about physics. Please don't hate me.