I didn’t draft any Patriots on my playoff fantasy team. I believe that the biggest myth in sports is that the Patriots are still elite. Did you know that since 2005 the Patriots are 9-7 in the playoffs and have zero Super Bowl titles. Also, in the last nine years they have signed more high-profile busts than contributors. Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco and Tim Tebow to name a few. Sure, someone could say at least they make it to the playoffs ‑- and in the NFL that is all that matters — but I don’t believe that they are elite. Tom Brady is elite and he always gives his team a chance, but the Patriots’ success is largely because of their terrible division.
Since 2005, the Bills are 54-90 (no playoff berths), the Dolphins are 62-82 (one playoff) and the Jets are 69-75 (two playoffs) – no other division in the NFL has been as dreadful in a league of parity. That plays a huge factor in to why the Patriots always make it to the playoffs. To New England’s credit, they do what they are supposed to and give themselves a shot. As Paul Klee put it, they beat up on Larry, Curly and Moe (be sure to follow Paul @Klee_Gazette on Twitter).
One could argue that the Patriots have at least drafted well to keep their “dynasty” in tact. That would be inaccurate. Below is a year-by-year look at the Patriots’ drafts.
2005 draft – anchor to O-line – Pro Bowl player 1 Logan Mankins, OL, Fresno State – great player – a Pro Bowler 3 Ellis Hobbs, CB, Iowa State 3 Nick Kaczur, OL, Toledo 4 James Sanders, FS, Fresno State 5 Ryan Claridge, LB, UNLV 7 Matt Cassel, QB, USC – Did make the Pro Bowl, but his stops with the Chiefs and Vikings make you wonder if it was because of the system 7 Andy Stokes, TE, William Penn
2006 – got a kicker 1 Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota 2 Chad Jackson, WR, Florida 3 Dave Thomas, TE, Texas 4 Garrett Mills, TE, Tulsa 4 Stephen Gostkowski, K, Memphis – OC 5 Ryan O’Callaghan, OL, California 6 Jeremy Mincey, DL, Florida 6 Dan Stevenson, OL, Notre Dame 6 Le Kevin Smith, DL, Nebraska
2007 – whole lotta nothing 1 Brandon Meriweather, FS, Miami (Fla.) 4 Kareem Brown, DL, Miami (Fla.) 5 Clint Oldenburg, OL, Colorado State 6 Justin Rogers, OLB, Southern Methodist 6 Mike Richardson, CB, Notre Dame 6 Justise Hairston, RB, Central Connecticut State 6 Corey Hilliard, OL, Oklahoma State 7 Oscar Lua, LB, USC 7 Mike Elgin, OL, Iowa 7 Willie Andrews, CB, Baylor
2008 – Stud linebacker 1 Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee – Was even better before his injury 2 Terrence Wheatley, CB, Colorado 3a Shawn Crable, OLB, Michigan 3b Kevin O’Connell, QB, San Diego State 4 Jonathan Wilhite, CB, Auburn 5 Matt Slater, KR, UCLA 6 Bo Ruud, ILB, Nebraska
2009 – tons of picks … tons of nothing 2a Pat Chung, SS, Oregon 2b Ron Brace, DT, Boston College 2c Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut 2d Sebastian Vollmer, OL, Houston – started over 50 games 3a Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina 3b Tyrone McKenzie, LB, South Florida 4 Rich Ohrnberger, OL, Penn State 5 George Bussey, OL, Louisville 6a Jake Ingram, LS, Hawaii 6b Myron Pryor, DT, Kentucky 7a Julian Edelman, WR, Kent State 7b Darryl Richard, DT, Georgia Tech
2010 – Best draft of the past 8 years? 1 Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers 2a Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona – Had injury concerns in college – has been hurt in NFL 2b Jermaine Cunningham, OLB, Florida 2c Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida – good player, as long as he is on time 3 Taylor Price, WR, Ohio 4 Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida – Had character issues in college – will never play in NFL again 5 Zoltan Mesko, P, Michigan 6 Ted Larsen, C, NC State 7a Thomas Welch, OT, Vanderbilt 7b Brandon Deaderick, DL, Alabama 7c Kade Weston, DL, Georgia 7d Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State
2011 draft – good offensive lineman and a RB who was drafted behind another RB 1 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado – Anchor, quality pick 2a Ras-I Dowling, DB, Virginia 2b Shane Vereen, RB, Cal 3a Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU 3b Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas 5a Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU 5b Lee Smith, TE, Marshall 6 Markell Carter, OLB, Central Arkansas 7 Malcolm Williams, CB, Marshall
2012 – After the first round … any contributors? 1a Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse 1b Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama 2 Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois 3 Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas 6 Nate Ebner, DB, Ohio State 7a Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska 7b Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern
2013 – Too early to tell, but Collins looks like a keeper 2a Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss 2b Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall 3a Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers 3b Duron Harmon, SS, Rutgers 4 Josh Boyce, WR, TCU 7 Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB, Illinois 7 Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers
Are there a combined 10 Pro Bowls for the 51 players drafted above? How does this team keep getting credit as a dynasty? As Paul (@Klee_Gazette on Twitter) also pointed out – all the Patriots on NFL Network and ESPN must factor into this myth. For all the credit coach Bill Belichick gets for being a genius, the Patriots have not usually signed elite free agents, have not drafted well beyond the second round and their record is inflated because Brady is so good and their division is so bad. The last time the Patriots won a Super Bowl Donovan McNabb was throwing up on the field and Terrell Owens had yet to play for the Cowboys or Bengals. Tim Tebow hadn’t even played a game yet – at Florida.
In case you are wondering, I had the third pick in my playoff fantasy draft and I took Colin Kaepernick. He is playing his third playoff game this weekend and he has a chance to play in four games. No other quarterback left in the playoffs has that opportunity.