Bill Belichick discovered last year what he always must have known deep down. That life without Tom Brady is pretty miserable compared to life with the perennial Super Bowl champion. The New England Patriots were dealt a bad hand last year and still managed to post a 7-9 record, a testament to the Hall of Fame coach's ability to get all the juice out of a lemon. But that mediocre showing pales in comparison to what the ageless wonder did with Tampa Bay, which is win the most eff-you title in recent memory.
With Newton poised to come back and a spending spree in the offseason, Belichick is going to make another run at it. And betting against him has sent too many good people to the poor house. But if history eventually proves that the Patriots' dynasty and Belichick's legacy are both on a steep decline with no brakes, last night's selection of Mac Jones may very well be the moment we look back on and point to as the clearest indication that it was already over before that 15th pick was turned into Roger Goodell.
Don't get me wrong. Jones did a solid impersonation of a young Brady, right down to the shirtless physique. He was incredibly efficient in an incredibly efficient system. And if there's one NFL coach who values that, it's Belichick. Jones is ready to contribute right away, and has limited risk to go with his limited upside. That he was available midway through the first round was a favorable twist in Foxborough.
At the same time, Belichick is 69 years-old. There are limited bites at the apple. There's a very good chance this will be the last quarterback he ever drafts with the hope of becoming an eventual Super Bowl champion. This franchise hasn't had to use a first-rounder on a signal caller in forever. For that one big swing to be on Jones? After all that's gone down and the dizzying array of more impressive talent at the position available?
Sure doesn't feel like a home run.
Now, if ever there were someone to have an ace up a cut-off sleeve, it's Bill. It just feels like he has precious few outs left in the deck and Jones isn't a trump card.