Does New England have reason to worry?
The New England Patriots are clearly in a state of disarray heading into the 2018-2019 season. Is Gronkowski available for trade or isn’t he? Can he stay healthy? Has Brady’s confidence in Belichick diminished? What was up with benching star CB Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl? Is missing Julian Edelman for the first 4 games going to affect the Pats season? How will the offensive line adjust after losing LT Nate Solder?
So many questions heading into the season, but the Patriots will be in the mix come playoff time, that much can be said for sure. But let’s get serious. The Pats are clearly losing confidence in Rob Gronkowski‘s ability to stay healthy after reports that they were quietly shopping him. Brady will be 41 by the time the regular season starts. Julian Edelman is suspended for the first 4 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs and receiving options are very thin without him on the active roster. Left Tackle Nate Solder, responsible for protecting Brady’s blind side for the past 6 seasons, has departed for the New York Giants. Star CB Malcolm Butler is no longer a part of the team after being benched in a questionable move by Belichick just hours before the Super Bowl kickoff.
That decision has been downplayed but shouldn’t be, because Nick Foles passed for 3 TDs and had a TD reception on a trick play. Brady’s postseason record 500+ yards passing should have been enough to win the Super Bowl but it wasn’t. Brady put up the performance of a lifetime in the Super Bowl and the Patriots still came up short. Somebody has to be to blame and you can bet Brady is blaming Belichick. Benching star CB Malcolm Butler at the last minute was one of the most controversial calls in NFL postseason history. Rumors and reports from sources close to the team said it was for “violating team rules”, likely missing curfew in Minneapolis in the days prior to the big game.
Maybe Belichick’s frigid nature is finally rubbing Brady and other players the wrong way. Either way, with no Malcolm Butler and no Edelman for the first 4 games, the Pats will have their work cut out for them. They used their first-round pick drafting Isaiah Wynn to replace Solder at LT, but protecting Brady’s blindside is too important a task to give to an unproven rookie.
Typically, the Patriots are a team that thrives late in the season, the Pats should definitely be in the mix, but will it be enough to gain hold off teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Denver Broncos? Time will tell, until then we’ll have to sit back and watch this thing unfold.