Hackett: It must be March because Patriots fans' pets' heads are falling off ... again

Jim Hackett
March 21, 2019 - 7:12 am

Ah. The sights and sounds of spring are in the air. It’s starting to get warmer and the daylight is lasting longer. My kids even helped with a little yard work already. The trees are beginning to bud and the spotting of Robins is becoming a little more frequent. Red Sox baseball is just a week away. These are all our rightful passages of spring and since the Patriots started making a habit of competing for and winning Super Bowl championships, March brings about a new rite of passage in New England; the right for Patriots fans pets’ heads to fall off. 

This is more commonly known as NFL free agency and oh the outrage it brings, at least around here. Unlike Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn from that famous scene, Patriots fans have plenty of food and plenty of jobs and yet, the pets’ heads still fall off.

It’s been just over six weeks since the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl championship and while we are roughly still six months away from the opening of the 2019 Patriots season, the minds of too many Patriots fans and the media folk that cover them have a chronic and seemingly incurable case of displaced rage and memory loss. Folks are you kidding me?

I get it. The Patriots need wide receivers. They have plenty of holes to fill on both sides of the ball and I realize that the moves to date on the whole have been a little underwhelming, but here’s my question – is this new? The answer is a rock hard no. Enough already with the fake outrage. If you are actually enraged about the state of the Patriots and it isn’t fake, then you need to seek professional help. Not just one shrink but a whole team of psychiatrists just focusing on you. Newsflash, things are good with football in New England. If you are confused about this just ask anyone who follows the other 31 teams in the NFL.

For those of you who may have a dog, cat or parakeet that is now missing head, please allow me to offer you some reassurances that all will likely be just fine with your favorite football team.

Exhibit A: The 2018 Patriots Super Bowl championship roster.

If the Patriots recent lack of transactions concerns you, please digest this little nugget - the Patriots signed, released and or activated 89 players from between April 4 - December 21 last year. They acquired key special teams’ contributors Albert McClellan and Obi Melifonwu as late as November 6. Based on the fact that Labor Day is still six months away and the NFL Draft is still over a month away, I think it’s safe to assume that the Patriots roster isn’t quite complete yet. This is a draft where the Patriots are going in with 12 picks by the way.

Exhibit B: Track Record.

For those of you who are shouting from the rooftops about the Patriots dire need to sign a star wide receiver please cite one example for me in the last 18 years when they have previously done this or, done this with any success. To quote Judge Smails, "Well, we’re waiting."

Randy Moss and Wes Welker stand out as the most prominent and prolific acquisitions the Patriots have ever made at this position in the Belichick era. Both were acquired by trade. Why is the lack of attention to the Wide Receiver position, specifically the high priced diva type wide receiver in free agency surprising you? Why is their general lack of attention to this position surprising you at all? Why do you think that position needs to be filled by the end of the second week of March? I have the answers. 

You’re the one who still thinks the Pats should have selected David Terrell over Richard Seymour in 2001.

You have been frozen in carbonite since the dark ages of Sam Jankovich/Rod Rust/Marc Wilson.

You have replaced your Crystal Light with crystal meth. 

C’mon folks. With nine Super Bowl appearances in 18 years I don’t think I’m being a homer by openly trusting their process. I’ll lay the gauntlet down, the Patriots will be armed with a solid stable of pass catchers at tight end, running back and yes, wide receiver by fall. By the way, recent free agent acquisition Bruce Ellington is actually pretty good. His issue is health. Shocking and often frustrating I know, but how can you question their success in terms of roster building? Don’t get hung up on the individual players or occasional positional failures because the process works and works really well. One more note on this, I’m expecting a level jump from Phillip Dorsett this season. Don’t forget he was a first round pick not so long ago and was playing his best ball in New England in the games that mattered most in the playoffs.

Exhibit C: The fire within.

After 19 years together my guess is that Bill Belichick knows what makes Tom Brady tick. The proof from their track record together would suggest exactly that right? So why is it that so many people are angrily itching for Belichick to change his methods now? I think he knows his quarterback well and knows that part of what makes Brady so great is that giant chip that will likely never leave his shoulder. Signing a superstar wide receiver like Antonio Brown might make Brady really happy, but does it fire up Brady’s motivational engine the way his coaches’ subtle neglect of the position does? I don’t know. 

My read is that Belichick knows exactly what he’s doing and fully understands how hard he makes things on his Hall of Fame quarterback from time to time. He also knows what that does to him, it likely motivates him to prove it all over again and certainly elevates his focus. Now is Belichick potentially playing with fire given Brady’s age? Sure, but again it’s only March 21 folks. Belichick is no dummy, he wasn’t sunning in Barbados because he forgot it was the opening of free agency last week. No, he was watching the other dummies load their rosters with guys that likely won’t get them to the dance. So while the Jets and Browns and whomever else you want to add in continue to win the March free agency war, Belichick and his quarterback will brace for the long and far more difficult road to the Super Bowl next winter. A road they have proven to travel very well together for many years now. 

So keep some faith and stop taking your fake Patriots rage out on the dog. Instead, buy him a package of Treats for Pete’s sake. That’s provided that old Pete the parakeet still has his head

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