It is no secret that the days of the New England Patriots’ legendary duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are numbered: Brady turns 42 next month, while Belichick is 67. But even though both men are in the twilight of their respective Hall of Fame careers, they have not yet shown any signs of slowing down — quite the opposite actually as both were at the top of their game during the Patriots’ 2018 championship season.
With the two performing on as high a level as ever, it is no surprise that analysts feel comfortable in the organization’s long-term outlook. How comfortable? According to E$PN’s latest ‘future power rankings’ only one other team in the NFL — the Indianapolis Colts — has a brighter future ahead than the reigning world champions. A big reason for that is the Patriots’ off-field personnel and structure as a breakdown of the ranking shows:
Overall roster (minus QB): 81.3 (11th best in the NFL)
Quarterback: 88.0 (8th)
Coaching: 95.0 (1st)
Draft: 83.3 (3rd)
Front office: 91.3 (1st)
As can be seen, ESPN’s panel of Louis Riddick, Kevin Seifert and Field Yates is confident in New England’s ability to sustain its success over the foreseeable future (the next three years, in this specific case) in large parts because of Belichick’s work as head coach and general manager. “The infrastructure of this organization — coaching, scouting, development, etc. — sets the standard,” writes Yates about the Patriots.
“Perhaps more than any other team in the NFL, the Patriots prioritize depth and fit within their roster,” he continues. “While the team has blue-chip players, the Patriots also have integral roster cogs who aren’t primary starters (e.g., defensive back Jonathan Jones) that allow them to be flexible and withstand injury attrition during the season. Bill Belichick remains the greatest coach in NFL history and his staff is resourceful and makes pieces fit.”
Of course, that does not mean that the Patriots won’t have to face some major questions — one of which being Brady’s comparatively advanced age. “It’s pretty remarkable to rank No. 2 in these ratings with a soon-to-be 42-year-old quarterback and no obvious heir on the roster,” writes Seifert. “At some point, unless Belichick is saving the decision for his successor, the Patriots will need to identify a transition plan.”
Riddick, who is annually seen as a potential candidate to fill general manager voids around the league, also sees the changing cast of characters on the coaching staff as a potential worry for New England. “If anything concerns me, it is the constant loss of valuable brain power and football intellect that this organization experiences every offseason as other teams try to tap into and emulate what the Patriots do,” he notes.
Ultimately, however, all three men agree that the team will remain a force to be reckoned with the next few years. Judging by New England’s track record and ability to adapt to any given situation, it is hard to argue with that point of view.