Forget the doomsayers: Here’s one pick for another successful Patriots season

He'll be going with a new quarterback for the first time in two decades, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been in good spirits during training camp.
He'll be going with a new quarterback for the first time in two decades, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been in good spirits during training camp. –AP

COMMENTARY

These are my words. Go ahead and mark them:

The 2020 Patriots, presuming decent fortune and reasonable health, are going to be a very good football team. They will reach double figures in victories, win the AFC East, and reach the postseason for the 12th straight year, and be the center of our sports world well into January.

I’m not saying the Super Bowl is a possibility. I know better than to say it is not.

Such optimistic proclamations and predictions regarding this franchise as it stands on the precipice of another NFL season are nothing new over the last … well, almost two decades now.

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The difference this year is that it’s a little lonely over here on Optimism Island. There are plenty of open seats on the Patriots bandwagon this year. The bolder — and perhaps more wishful — among us, or in particular in other markets, are racing to declare the Patriots era over, the championship window closed, and the reigning champion Chiefs the next dynasty in the NFL, as if it’s fait accompli that they will achieve even half of what the Patriots have done.

I am mystified by this pessimism, even now that the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady, is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and for some odd reason exponentially more annoying than he ever was as a Patriot.

You see, I looked it up. Wikipedia and many more reliable outlets up to but not including Ask Jeeves confirmed. So go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief. Bill Belichick is indeed still coaching the Patriots.

That’s enough for me to believe this team is going to be very good, and perhaps so good that it will have the potential to greatly disappoint those that got sick of this team’s success 15 years ago and just want it to fade to a state of mediocrity so uninspiring that you’d think Jeff Fisher was the coach.

What sort of challenges await Bill Belichick as he strolls into his 21st season as head coach of the Patriots? —Jim Davis/The Boston Globe
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I am mystified by this pessimism, even now that the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady, is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and for some odd reason exponentially more annoying than he ever was as a Patriot.

You see, I looked it up. Wikipedia and many more reliable outlets up to but not including Ask Jeeves confirmed. So go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief. Bill Belichick is indeed still coaching the Patriots.

That’s enough for me to believe this team is going to be very good, and perhaps so good that it will have the potential to greatly disappoint those that got sick of this team’s success 15 years ago and just want it to fade to a state of mediocrity so uninspiring that you’d think Jeff Fisher was the coach.

I’ve seen skepticism from respected voices such as NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran, who picked them to go 8-8. And then there’s the irrational look-at-me stuff. One NFL.com writer — whose day job is as a sports radio host, naturally — suggested the Patriots will be in the top five of the draft next year.

Well, I’m not wavering, and not just because there’s never been another organization in the history of professional football that has been so worthy of prolonged faith.

Have you noticed? Tell me you noticed, because we’ve seen enough of him through the years to know it matters: Belichick has been in a great mood during training camp. A great mood. Engaging (OK, by his usual snort-grumble standards) on his Zoom calls with the media and quick with a joke.

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Cheerful Bill is a clue that he is seeing something good that hasn’t yet been revealed to us. I remember seeing this mood from time to time in the postseason, and wondering what he knew, what was being left unsaid. He was like this in the days building up to their most recent Super Bowl victory, over the supposedly unstoppable 2019 Rams. The Patriots defense bewildered Sean McVay and Jared Goff that day, holding them to 3 points.

I am convinced that Belichick knows something good about his team that we don’t. Perhaps it’s that Newton has found the fountain of youth. Perhaps he’s identified top-end talent in a player who thus far has had a minor role, from someone like Damien Harris (who is currently hurt), Chase Winovich, or Joejuan Williams. Perhaps Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, the rookie tight ends with the diverse skill sets, are about to provide a significant upgrade at that position.

Or perhaps he just knows that in this strangest of seasons, the continuity and institutional knowledge he provides is going to be a significant advantage.

Belichick seems to know it, and I’m going to be wise enough to believe it. The Patriots are going to be very good this year. The fun part is going to be discovering how.

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