Can the 2018 New England Patriots Win It All?
A Daunting Schedule Looms Over The 2018 New England Patriots
by DS WilliamsonOnce again, the 2018 New England Patriots head to training camp as the Super Bowl favorites. It makes sense because as long as the Patriots’ head coach is Bill Belichick and as long as QB Tom Brady puts on the pads, New England will have a shot. But, are the Patriots destined to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy again?
Biggest Question: Who Will Protect Tom Brady’s Blind Side? Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever play. It’s difficult to argue that point because Brady has more Super Bowl rings than any other quarterback. The 4th quarter comeback versus the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 all but sealed the deal on Brady’s "greatest ever" status.
However, even Tom Brady needs someone to protect his blind side. That’s the biggest question heading into this season. The Patriots landed Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn in Round 1 of this year’s draft. Wynn’s a great guard. He’s not a left tackle.
Can Wynn possibly learn to play left tackle? Right now, the Patriots believe so. They’ve got Wynn listed first on the depth chart. If Wynn doesn’t turn into a viable left tackle, New England could be in trouble before the season even starts.
Nothing else will matter if Tom Brady is flattened every time he drops back to pass the football.
Can Bill Belichick Excel as Both Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator? Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions. Bill Belichick won’t take over defensive play-calling duties. That will fall onto linebackers coach Brian Flores. But, Belichick’s fingerprints should be all over the defense and that remains a positive for the 2018 New England Patriots and this might pose problems from a management standpoint.
More than anything, Belichick must also maintain his position as the head coach. That means he’ll be in charge of everything, just the way Bill likes it. Belichick’s much older now then he was when his iron-fisted style of management led the Patriots to a 2000 Super Bowl win. Will his style work with the 2018 New England Patriots’ squad? Probably. Belichick is a master when it comes to ruling from a high seat and Flores is accustomed to his leadership. It will be interesting to see how the absence of Patricia impacts this squad.
How Tough is New England’s Schedule? If Isaiah Wynn excels at left tackle (or if the Patriots find a player that can) and if Flores has no trouble handling the defense, the Patriots should be a top team in the AFC. This goes without saying. But being a threat in the conference won't guarantee them a trip to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII.
The reason is because this might be the toughest schedule the Patriots have faced in a long time. The Patriots’ bye this season doesn’t come until Week 11. Of their 10 games before Week 11, New England could lose six: Houston in Week 1, at Jacksonville in Week 2, at Detroit in Week 3, Kansas City in Week 6, Green Bay in Week 9, and at Tennessee in Week 10.
After their bye, the Patrtiots must contend with Minnesota in Week 13 and are at Pittsburgh in Week 15. Sure, New England should still win the AFC East Division, but at what cost?
When you’re the New England Patriots, anything less than a Super Bowl berth is a disappointment. Based on the strength of schedule, the lack of left tackle depth, and some questions about the defense, the 2018 New England Patriots' chances of reaching the Super Bowl are much worse this season than they were last season. You just can't tell that simply by looking at the NFL futures.