New England Patriots narrative being overblown in 2016

Dec 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots have long been a model of consistency from head coach and quarterback, but the circumstances surrounding aren’t bad either…

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest head coach/quarterback duo the NFL has ever seen. Before we get into a discussion about how it’s not all about them when it comes to the New England Patriots, let me just make that clear.

There’s nothing wrong with pushing narrative. It’s why we have the opportunity to write about sports and why the stories off the field are almost as interesting as the ones we see on it. For the New England Patriots, the story has always been Brady and Belichick, and everything else is just icing.

There is no one in their right mind who would be able to tell you — legitimately — that the success of the Patriots doesn’t start with their legendary duo and on-field brain trust, but to say that it stops there is just as insane.

The circumstances for the Patriots this year have been arguably more favorable than any year in the past, and I would stand strongly by that. Every NFL team suffers significant injuries. Every NFL team (pretty much) has a key player suspended for at least a brief time. Every NFL team deals with adversity, but it seems like Brady and Belichick always come out on top, or very close to it.

I was perusing Twitter on Tuesday morning, and came across this gem from former Super Bowl champion GM Charley Casserly, now of NFL Network:

There’s nothing wrong about the first sentence of that tweet, but I take issue with most of the remaining words. No true #1 running back? No true outside receiver? Playing with their #2 tight end?

No matter how good the Patriots are as a team, the media always finds a way to victimize them to elevate Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Let’s address these and other issues with the pity party that constantly seems to surround the Patriots.

The Patriots do have a true running back, and his name is LeGarrette Blount. Blount might not be Le’Veon Bell, but he has run for over 1,000 yards this season and set career marks not only in yards, but first downs, touchdowns (18) and attempts (299). Blount carried the load for the Patriots, and he was a back breaker for other teams.

He’s most definitely a no. 1 back, which needs to be acknowledged.

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The Patriots have unbelievable production from their slot receiver, Julian Edelman. There’s no arguing that. They don’t have a guy like Julio Jones, but most teams don’t have anyone like Edelman, either. Chris Hogan was signed in the offseason from Buffalo to be the team’s no. 2 receiver, an outside threat. He did his job by averaging nearly 18 yards per reception, hauling in four touchdowns over the course of 2016 and saving his best performance for the biggest stage.

In the AFC Championship game, Hogan caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots don’t have a ‘Julio Jones’ type of receiver because they really don’t need one. They are so effective at getting yards after the catch and utilizing tight ends and backs in the passing game, not having a big, fast, elite receiver on the perimeter doesn’t really make that much of a difference.

So, Casserly is technically right, they don’t have a true no. 1 receiver, but what they do have is an offense that doesn’t need one. They aren’t hurting for a lack of a true no. 1, which brings me to my next point…

The Patriots’ number one receiver in terms of physical and athletic dominance is Rob Gronkowski, who of course is not healthy, and hasn’t been for a while. But the “#2 TE” that Casserly speaks of is Pro Bowler Martellus Bennett, one of the most dynamic all-around threats at tight end in the NFL. There’s a reason why the rest of the NFL world was moaning and groaning when the Patriots traded a sack of peanuts to get Bennett, and why their offense hasn’t skipped a beat with him in there instead of Gronkowski.

Bennett finished second on the Patriots this year with 701 receiving yards and led the team with seven touchdown catches. This guy is no typical backup tight end, and shouldn’t be considered as such.

What Casserly conveniently left out of his championship equation is the fact that New England also had the top scoring defense this year. This reflects directly on Belichick, to his credit, because without the tenacity and preparation of the head coach, these players wouldn’t be performing at such a consistently high level.

The Patriots are the sum of their parts, but the credit always goes to Belichick and Brady. It’s not that they don’t deserve the credit they receive, but let’s not say they MacGyver-ed this Super Bowl appearance. This team is full of studs between the coaching staff and the players. They work well together.

They aren’t being dragged along by poor Tom and Bill.