Coming off a loss in Super Bowl 52, the New England Patriots' offseason did not lack any drama. From Malcolm Butler's surprising benching in the title game to Rob Gronkowski being unhappy and not committing to returning to the team in 2018 to Tom Brady possibly thinking retirement to dysfunction within the franchise's power players to multiple free agency losses it was a busy three months.
Of course, only a handful of people outside of Gillette Stadium know how seriously to take the rumors that were making the rounds as most of the speculation was fanned by what sources said or what pundits felt like. It is therefore no surprise to see former Patriots head coach Bill Parcells tell The Athletic's Gary Myers that he does not buy into all the talk of unrest within the organization:
I don’t pay any attention to that. Nobody knows what’s what exactly. You are just hearing gossip and conjecture and opinion. I don’t put much stock in that. Having been in a position myself as a head coach, a lot of things are said about an organization, the coaching staff and the owner. Some of the things are just flat-out not true. Yet they get out and they get publicized because they make good headlines. The only thing you’ve got to do is watch the product on the field. When the season starts, all this offseason stuff, it doesn’t mean anything. Nothing.
The Patriots are no strangers to being the subject of speculation. After all, this is the franchise that won two Super Bowls amidst the “Deflategate” nonsense, went 16-0 after “Spygate” broke, and became world champions only a few shorts months after ESPN's Tom Jackson publicly declared that the players on the team “hate their coach” after Bill Belichick released defensive captain Lawyer Milloy for salary cap reasons.
But as Parcells notes, the product on the field is what counts and it would be a surprise if it wasn't one of the most prolific in the NFL next season again – something Parcells sees the same way. When asked about how much longer he thinks that the dynasty will be able to stay alive behind Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Hall of Fame head coach answered that he “wouldn't underestimate them”:
Their track record is illustrious. You know, all things come to an end. We all know that. New England had quite a few players last year that couldn’t play defensively because of injuries. Some of them are coming back. Defense was one of their Achilles’ heels. If they can improve there, we know they are going to have the firepower. They have a prolific passer. They have [Julian] Edelman coming back, [Rob] Gronkowski is a target. They have some runners. Their back [James White] is a very, very good pass receiver. They got that young back from Georgia [Sony Michel], who looks like he can score touchdowns if he gets a step or so. I don’t see anybody right now in their division that I would say has the upper hand on them, that’s for sure. If you can win your division, you are a long way down the road to doing something.
Even though the Patriots suffered some offseason losses and saw their opponents within the division make major investments, New England is still the favorite to win the division and the Super Bowl. The more things change, the more they stay the same.