With the news this week that Rob Gronkowski underwent his 5th surgery, this time for a troublesome back, and Aaron Hernandez at best obstructed justice and at worst murdered a man it is time to look at how much longer New England can be elite.
It is fair to question whether Hernandez will ever play again and whether Gronkowski will be able to stay healthy or play to the level he has in the past. Hernandez is 23 and Gronkowski 24. They were cornerstones of the franchise and both recently received lucrative extensions. The mismatches they created allowed the Patriots to run their no-huddle in unconventional personnel groupings that created confusion from the defenses they played against.
Tom Brady will soon be 36 years old and as great as he is Father Time is undefeated. Brady has maybe two more great years in him and perhaps two more above average ones after that. Bill Belichick is 61 years old and was a good coach but not a “genius” until he was paired with Brady. The weapons on offense are dwindling and the defense has been below average for a number of years only held together by Belichick’s coaching.
Belichick may come up with the next revolution in offensive football and get one more run at a title but it is clear that the window is closing. Their reign of terror over the AFC East has been ongoing since the turn of the century but all things come to an end. Be patient Jets fans better days are ahead days that don’t include having the shadow of the Patriots hanging over them.