Predicting when the Patriots’ dynasty will end has become a seemingly annual exercise, but this year there seems to be some very real cracks in the foundation. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe has a new piece examining all the possible explanations for the Patriots’ uncharacteristic issues this year, and the whole thing is worth a read. He quotes many former coaches and adversaries like Rex Ryan, and notes that the consensus seems to be that the “Patriots may have overestimated how much” the trio of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman had left in the tank.
Gronkowski has struggled with injuries all season long and hasn’t looked like himself, and Brady’s numbers aren’t of the eye-popping variety we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. Volin notes that the Patriots’ longtime “commandment” was to trade players before they got over the hill, but that the team opted not to deal Gronkowski after reportedly dangling him in trade talks this offseason. There’s still a couple of weeks plus the playoffs left, but it will be very interesting to see what type of changes come in New England this offseason if things don’t pick up.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Speaking of the Patriots, one change they might be facing is the potential departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels famously spurned the Colts at the last second this offseason, but is likely to be a hot head coaching candidate again this year. A league source told Jeff Howe of The Athletic that McDaniels will be heavily sought after on the interview circuit in part because there’s a “shortage of impressive coaching candidates.” Howe notes that the Patriots made McDaniels the league’s highest paid coordinator to help keep him, but that he “recently hired a new agent and will be interested in interview opportunities.” McDaniels has been linked heavily to the Packers’ opening in particular.
- The Bears just wrapped up the NFC North last week, but they’ll be without a pair of key defensive players this week as they take on the 49ers while pursuing a first round bye. Safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker Aaron Lynch have been ruled out for the game, according to James Palmer of NFL Network (Twitter link). Jackson has graded out as the top safety in the league according to Pro Football Focus, and his absence will be massive for the league’s best defense.
- In case you missed it, Pat Bowlen’s wife is now weighing in on the ongoing legal saga surrounding ownership of the Broncos.