Tom Brady and New England Patriots Clearly Not Who They Were, So Who Are They?
AP Images

With an emphatic 43-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the New England Patriots defied everyone who’d declared them dead.

Instead of their season being in tatters, quarterback Tom Brady‘s career being over and their dynasty kaput, the Patriots are celebrating a huge win against what was the NFL‘s last remaining unbeaten team in 2014.

Just as Pats supporters crowed that the Week 4 Monday Night Football debacle was just one game, though, the Week 5 Sunday Night Football triumph was also just one game.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick‘s mentor, Bill Parcells (who coached the Patriots to a Super Bowl himself) famously said, “You are what your record says you are.”

If that’s true, the Pats are 3-2, tied with the Buffalo Bills for first place in the AFC East, a half-game ahead of the Miami Dolphins and two games up on the New York Jets. Perhaps that’s a good thing, but as good as the Patriots have been throughout the Brady/Belichick era?

Hardly.

An honest look at Brady’s performance so far this season, the strength of the Patriots as a whole and their place in the AFC reveals a team with serious flaws, big questions and a murky playoff outlook. In the context of Brady’s inarguable decline, the Patriots simply aren’t the Patriots anymore.

The Dynasty

Anyone watching the Patriots over the last two seasons and thinking this is the same team that ruled the 2000s must not have watched that team.

Just look at what those Patriots accomplished:

Credit: Ty Schalter/Bleacher Report

It’s been a magnificent run of dominance.

The Patriots have owned the AFC East since 2001, relinquishing the title just twice in 13 seasons (one of those two times was on a tiebreaker). They made the playoffs 10 times …read more