Wednesday, February 22, 2012

6 comments Ben Reiter Announces the End of the Patriot Way

There is a trend I have noticed among sportswriters over the last few weeks. This trend started when the Patriots lost the Super Bowl. That trend is to announce the Patriots dynasty is over, Bill Belichick is no longer a genius, Tom Brady should retire and most likely Robert Kraft is going to sell the team to North Korea. Ok, I made that last part up, but there is a lot of panic going on among sportswriters that the Patriots may never make the playoffs again. Ben Reiter of FoxSports, better known as the guy Jason Whitlock trumps up on Twitter on a consistent basis by always saying things like,

"Ben Reiter is awesome. (The Wire reference) (Racist remark) Here is the link to his newest article, he did the damn thang (comment about how he is capable of understanding race relations better than anyone else in the world)."

jumps on the bandwagon and says "The Patriot Way" is headed down a rocky path. He thinks it's all over and the Patriots will never reach such heights again. It's almost like the team wasn't one touchdown away from winning the Super Bowl.

Bill Belichick, in the aftermath of yet another Super Bowl letdown at the hands of the New York Giants,

Because at a certain point merely making the Super Bowl is apparently no longer enough to impress Ben Reiter. He needs the Patriots to win the Super Bowl in order for him to be impressed.

I like how he writes "yet another" Super Bowl letdown as if the Patriots have lost three or four Super Bowls to the Giants under Belichick. The Patriots lost two Super Bowls to the Giants in a four year span. This isn't the start of a trend.

should contemplate the following two questions. Patriots fans should hope he takes the second one as seriously as the first.

We need to take a step back and realize this is a team that made the Super Bowl and were a touchdown away from winning the damn Super Bowl. It isn't like this is the Baltimore Ravens (not picking on the Ravens, they are just the first team that came to mind) or another team that consistently makes the playoffs, but can't seem to make it to the Super Bowl. As flawed as this Patriots team was, they certainly played very well this year. That's why I don't buy all this talk about the Patriots going downhill in the future.

Let me explain: The Patriots don't have a pass rushing defense, don't really have impact wide receivers, and the secondary is an absolute mess. They still made the Super Bowl though. I know Tom Brady will be one year older (it is weird that Peyton Manning is not only older than Brady, but coming off major neck surgery and sportswriters are acting like he can come in and immediately take his next team to the playoffs, yet I get the feeling sportswriters think Brady is declining rapidly), but he isn't old to the point he is a liability or isn't one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He needs receivers and a better defense. Fortunately, the Patriots already have two excellent tight ends, a great offensive line, and four of the Top 63 picks in this year's NFL Draft. The defense and receivers can be fixed. So this was a flawed Patriots team, but I can see next year's team being much better. This is scary in my mind and a testament to the idea the Patriots Way is not over.

1. What went wrong in Super Bowl XLVI that again cost him, his star quarterback and his team another notch at even more lasting greatness?

Well, the Patriots were playing without their best offensive weapon at 100% and weren't able to make the plays necessary to win the game. It actually is that simple.

2. What went wrong afterward — from the quarterback’s wife to the team’s tight end to the revelation of Belichick's strategic mistake —

The quarterback's wife is irrelevant, and the team's tight end went dancing after the game, which is fairly irrelevant as well.

that allowed an organization steeped in silence and secrecy to allow so much of its personal business to be displayed for all the world to see?

Right, because the Patriots personal business being revealed for all to see has a direct effect on how good the Patriots team will be in the future. God forbid it be acknowledged the Patriots organization has the same issues as every other NFL organization, just with more Super Bowl appearances over the last ten years.

What, exactly, happened to the Patriots Way?

It was a fictional concept perpetuated by the media in order to create a definite narrative to explain everything that happens on or off the football field.

This is not a dissertation on whether Brady’s supermodel wife was wrong or right to let her emotions unleash themselves in such a way.

This is mentioned only because it was the opening act in a series of events this week that’s seen the Patriot Way go decidedly sour.

I'm already tired of hearing about "the Patriot Way." Whatever off-the-field events happen between now and the beginning of the football season, they most likely won't determine how good the 2012 New England Patriots team will be. What Brady's wife said is irrelevant to how the Patriots go about improving their team for the 2012 season.

The Patriots Way was about silence and loyalty — about top-down management, about control, about an almost freakish need to guard information and about a CIA-like approach to the media,

And what great revelations about the Patriots do we know now? Rob Gronkowski likes to dance? We knew a few months ago he liked to hang out with porn stars and was kind of a funny guy and miraculously this didn't stop the Patriots from going to the Super Bowl.

Did we learn Tom Brady's wife is frustrated with how well the Patriots' receivers played during the game? The Patriots receivers themselves were frustrated with how well they played, just ask Wes Welker.

We learned Belichick didn't want Cruz and Nicks to beat them on the final drive? How is this revelatory information? Wouldn't any head coach whose head isn't up his ass tell his defense to not let the opposing team's best two receivers catch passes and force the passes to the lesser receivers? Are there really idiots out there who were shocked to hear Belichick implore his defense to take away the Giants best offensive weapons? I assumed this was Belichick's strategy the entire game. Logic would dictate this to be true.

Control, always, was the Belichick way. He dispatched Terry Glenn without fanfare or ceremony in 2001, going so far as to ensure Glenn did not receive a championship ring despite playing four games that season.

The fact Ben Reiter knows this little tidbit, doesn't it mean the Patriots veil of secrecy was lifted a decade ago and the Patriots still managed to win two more Super Bowls? This whole "veil of secrecy being lifted" crap stems completely from writers searching for original storylines after the Super Bowl. Belichick and the Patriots keep a lot of things close to the vest, but there probably isn't a high correlation between the Patriots veil of secrecy being lifted and their immediate probable decline.

He cut the talented but some say troublesome Albert Haynesworth.

Really? "Some say troublesome?" Who are these "some" people? Coaches/players/executives for every team Haynesworth has ever played on?

It was the family way or the highway, and guys like Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco were allowed in only if they understood. Once anyone did not — like Moss — they were out.

Which is why the Patriots cut Haynesworth.

Not every political system lasts forever, and not everyone can be exported elsewhere. Ask Scott Pioli and the Kansas City Chiefs how the Patriots Way is playing in the Midwest.

I'm not big on excuses, but the Chiefs made the playoffs last year and had quite a few key injuries this year. I don't think Pioli in Kansas City has been a rousing success, but it also hasn't been a failure.

Family business always discussed among the family. You could almost imagine, in the early days of the Patriots dynasty, Belichick leaning quietly into one of his deputies who’d said too much and muttering, Godfather-esque: “What's the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft with all that comedy you are playing with that young girl. Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking again.”

Wow, great analogy. So what does this have to do with the Patriots not winning the Super Bowl again? Would this be an issue if the Patriots had won the Super Bowl? Probably not. So why is it an issue after they lose the Super Bowl by four points?

Well, Don Belichick, the family suddenly has a problem.

But he doesn't really have a problem. I haven't always been a huge fan of how the Patriots have drafted, but the Patriots hold a lot of good picks in this year's NFL Draft. They have the 27th, 31st, 48th, 63rd, and the 94th pick. So if the Patriots draft fairly well, they could get at least two impact players out of this year's draft. Patriots fans (and media) go crazy when Belichick trades his picks, but the Patriots could use these picks to make a trade up or back in the draft and it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. My point is the Patriots have options and whatever you think of the failures they have drafted, they have also found a few good players in the draft as well.

Contrary to everything you read the Patriots aren't the Raiders. They aren't a team that has dwindling talent on the roster and no draft picks to replenish the talent. The Patriots simply need to draft well in order to fill the holes on the roster. Take a look at this mock draft. There are quality players available that would fit the needs of the Patriots. That doesn't include the players available in the second round that would fit the needs of the Patriots.

This "problem" the Patriots and Don Belichick have will go away as long as the Patriots keep winning. Winning cures all.

It’s that, in the Patriots Way, we should never have known that dance, shirt or otherwise, happened. That’s family business. That tape isn’t supposed to make its way to outsiders.

Reeeeeeeeeeeaching for a storyline, I see. The Patriots are the mafia and Rob Gronkowski made family business public. Will Belichick have him killed or just ignore the situation and wait until next season when no one remembers or gives a shit about whether Gronkowski danced spastically after losing the Super Bowl? I'm on the edge of my seat to find out.

This is all disconcerting enough, but then Thursday it was revealed Belichick was caught on tape during the game saying the plan in the closing and key moments of the fourth quarter was to ensure that the Giants be forced to throw to Mario Manningham.

Belichick wasn't "caught on tape" like he was trying to keep this hidden and it came out through a tape hidden in the jacket of a person standing on the sideline. I'm willing to bet Belichick knew the microphone would pick up what he said, but didn't care. It isn't like someone was wearing a wire and caught Belichick doing/saying something illegal/unethical and it isn't like the Giants could use that comment to game plan during the Super Bowl.

This "veil of secrecy" crap that Reiter perpetuates is completely disproven when knowing Belichick allowed NFL Network to do an entire behind-the-scenes documentary on his life as an NFL head coach earlier this past NFL season. Of course, in sports journalism facts are easily forgotten when they don't support a point that is trying to be proven. That documentary revealed a lot about Belichick and how he interacts with his own and opposing players. So Belichick is very secretive, but the idea Belichick would never want one of his statements on the field made public is just absolutely false. The documentary proved that already.

“This is still a (Victor) Cruz and (Hakeem) Nicks game,” Belichick said in audio recorded for NFL Films. “I know we’re right on them. It's tight but those are still the guys. Make them go to Manningham. Make them go to (Bear) Pascoe. Let’s make sure we get Cruz and Nicks.”

How the fuck is this controversial? This is a sound strategy.

Make them go to Manningham

Right. Because Cruz and Nicks are better receivers, so you would rather they not catch a bunch of passes on the final drive.

Well, they sure did go to Manningham — for a spectacular catch that changed the tide of the game.

So would it have been better if Belichick told his secondary and coaching staff to focus on Manningham and let Cruz or Nicks beat them? If Belichick had allowed Nicks or Cruz to catch 3-4 passes on this drive he would be getting beaten up even worse than he already is. NFL teams prioritize the offensive players they want to prevent from beating them.

For example, when teams play the Vikings they want to stop Adrian Peterson. If Michael Jenkins has 9 catches for 119 yards and the opposing coach is heard saying, "Stop Peterson and force them to throw the ball to their receivers," will everyone freak out this coach is an idiot? Probably not, because there was a defensive strategy to take away the strengths of the opposing team and force them to rely on their weaknesses to win the game.

Again, Belichick is entitled to coach as he wants. And to make mistakes. And to get burned, sometimes, by those mistakes.

Apparently he isn't entitled to this or else Ben Reiter wouldn't be acting like Belichick committed the worst of all strategic mistakes.

Belichick caught on tape talking so openly about family business — especially family business that might have cost the Pats a championship — would be like listening to Don Corleone caught on tape saying, “I really like that Barzini guy. See if he can take care of Michael until this trouble is over.”

At the time, no one on the Giants sideline could hear what Belchick was saying. So his airing of the family business didn't cost the Pats a championship. The strategy Belichick was espousing turned out not to work, but there were other factors that cost the Patriots the championship. Not to mention, it isn't like Manningham was wide open. It took a great throw and a great catch for Manningham to beat the Patriots. So I'm not even sure I could say the strategy backfired.

Thing is, the problem with a system that works is that it always works — until it doesn’t.

The Patriots came within a touchdown of winning the Super Bowl. That's a system that still seems to be working.

Once they sense you're weak, they come after you. No doubt.

The suggestion a team that made the Super Bowl and lost in the last few minutes is weak happens to be an incredibly stupid and inaccurate suggestion.

Take what happened earlier this week, when an online pawnshop dropped 900 pounds of Butterfinger candy bars off at Copley Square in Boston to mock Wes Welker and the key fourth-quarter drop that surely prompted Gisele’s comments.

There were other drops in the game as well. I think can think of one ball dropped over the middle of the field on the final drive of the game specifically.

Is she to blame for the mockery — for the fact the Patriots have become ordinary enough to warrant, to some, that level of disrespect?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

It doesn't matter. NFL teams don't respond or pay attention to mockery that surrounds. No one cares about disrespect and if anything the disrespect will drive the Patriots to play better next year. I have read some of Ben Reiter's other writing and he isn't this stupid. He isn't stupid enough to believe the Patriots are now ordinary because Gisele gave an opinion, Gronkowski danced and Belichick spoke a defensive strategy. If the Patriots do become ordinary, it is because of on-the-field performance and personnel reasons. It won't be due to the Patriot Way failing due to the veil of secrecy being lifted.

What’s certain is, following a setback, the New England Patriots failed to keep it in the family. And that alone could be enough to change the Patriots Way indefinitely.


Man, I can only imagine what would have been written if the Patriots didn't go 13-3 this year and almost win the Super Bowl.


rich said...

1. What went wrong in Super Bowl XLVI that again cost him, his star quarterback and his team another notch at even more lasting greatness?

Considering Belichick is considered the best coach in the game, has four super bowl rings (3 as a HC, one as a coordinator) and has 5 SB appearances in a little over a decade... he's already pretty much got lasting greatness already.

Same for Brady. Three rings, five SB appearances, all sorts of records, one of the best to play the game... already pretty great.

that allowed an organization steeped in silence and secrecy to allow so much of its personal business to be displayed for all the world to see?

What personal business? That the QBs wife was pissed off at all the drops the Patriots had? I didn't need Gizelle to tell me that the drops cost them the game as I had just watched the game.

He cut the talented but some say troublesome Albert Haynesworth.

This happened this season. So an example of the "Patriot way" just happened like three months ago. The "Patriot way" must have been hit by a bus in December or something.

It’s that, in the Patriots Way, we should never have known that dance, shirt or otherwise, happened.

Considering cell phone videos weren't really big until like 2004-2005... no shit the early part of the "dynasty" was easier to control. Other than Gronk (who was probably too drunk to even know what day it was), who in the Patriots organization would have known the video even existed until it showed up on SportsCenter?

Thursday it was revealed Belichick was caught on tape during the game saying the plan in the closing and key moments of the fourth quarter was to ensure that the Giants be forced to throw to Mario Manningham.

What the fuck was he supposed to do? Call three time outs consecutively to allow his team to get to the locker room and tell them there? Newsflash: Coach gives team instructions on sidelines.

So Belichick is very secretive

This is absolutely true. He was secretive about Gronk's injury and he was secretive about his gameplan. Considering his "don't let them throw to Cruz or Manningham" statement wasn't revealed until after the Super Bowl, how exactly did it hurt the team?

And even if Belichick had gone over to Coughlin and told him personally he was trying to stop Cruz and Nicks, it wouldn't have changed a damn thing because anyone who isn't completely stupid knew that already.

Well, they sure did go to Manningham — for a spectacular catch that changed the tide of the game.

In excellent coverage and it was inches from being an incomplete pass. The defense did a great job defending Manningham, Eli just made an incredible throw.

Is she to blame for the mockery — for the fact the Patriots have become ordinary enough to warrant, to some, that level of disrespect?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

NO. Anyone who has watched a football game in the past 50 years knew that the WRs were a big problem. The fact that Gizelle said what literally everyone else in the world knew means absolutely nothing.

I mean, the refs even knew Welker screwed up, I guess Belichick should have punched the ref in the jaw to prevent NFL films from his comments on tape.

The more of these stupid articles that come out, the worse I feel for the actual Boston fans. I'm sure there are massholes who will agree with what Reiter says, but they exist in any fanbase (fuck you obnoxious Phillies fans for giving us a bad name).

The normal, has followed the Patriots for a lifetime and understands that you can't win all the time fan, you have my deepest sympathies.

Murray said...

The Patriots way is and always has been. "Do your job" It goes back to parcels. It's also been "Don't give the other team BB material" Everything else is media drivin bullshit.

Also I never once heard Belichick say
A, He was a genius
B, His way is the best and only way

Bengoodfella said...

By the way, this ends all discussion of the Super Bowl. I'm done.

Rich, making a Super Bowl is pretty dang impressive. I will always fail to see how the inability to win a Super Bowl means the Patriots are on the downside of their dynasty. I always thought making the Super Bowl was a good thing.

Not to back the supermodel, but I think she said what others were thinking. Did we think she would blame her husband?

The Patriot Way also says to cut players who don't perform. That's why Haynesworth is gone.

I think the criticism of Belichick's comment blew me away the most. It was after the game when the comment was made and it was just an incredibly obvious strategy he spoke out loud. Most defensive strategies are built around stopping the other team's best players. I assumed Belichick wanted to stop Cruz/Nicks.

I know it doesn't make some Pats fans feel better, but when Manning made that throw to Manningham, there wasn't anything the D could have done. You can't beat teams who are just playing well. If Manning makes throws like that, you aren't winning.

I am not at the point where I feel bad for Pats fans, but I do appreciate the fans (of any team really) who just understand you can't win every game, even really important games. This was a flawed Pats team in my opinion and they almost won the Super Bowl, but didn't because the Giants played really well when they had to. End of story.

Murray, very true. What's interesting is Belichick has changed his ways over the year. So he knows there isn't one way to win a game.

Justin Zeth said...

The Patriots have a lot of cap space and two first round picks. Know what that means? It means if they want to and are willing to give up the #31 pick for the privilege, they can sign Mike Wallace. Who is only the best pure deep threat in the NFL, other than maybe Megatron. The Steelers don't have the cap space to match whatever offers he gets. (The Steelers are now officially entering Cap Hell, a fact that is curiously underreported, it seems.)

Now that would make the Patriots offense a whole new ballgame, wouldn't it?

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, yes it would. Then add in the fact the Patriots will probably have a pretty good shot at either the #2 or #3 best RB in the draft. If they choose to go that way, they have the option. Actually, they can take a pass rusher in that spot if they choose to or even improve their secondary. That's the point and why this article is crap. The Pats have cap space and plenty of room to move around in the draft. Who is to say they don't move up and grab a player?

Bengoodfella said...

I guaran-freaking-tee you if the Pats move up and trade some picks to move up the NE media will rip them for giving up picks to get one player. This is as opposed to them normally hating it when the Pats trade back. I know they would thrash Belichick for moving up and ignoring the team's other needs.