We all know the Patriots are pretty good. You can whine and complain about the “Cheatriots” and Belichick’s cameras, but that scandal is nearing a decade since it happened, and really, the Patriots’ success has been limited since then.
Webster’s English Dictionary defines the word ‘dynasty’ as: “A succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field.” Now, although this doesn’t directly translate to football, a dynasty is used for a team that continuously wins championships, playoff games or even Super Bowls. Examples include the Dallas Cowboys of the mid-60’s all the way to the mid-80’s, the San Francisco 49ers from 1981-1998 and, to a lesser extent, the Dallas Cowboys again from 1991-1995. The Patriots’ dynasty apparently began in 2001 and is still ongoing, according to Patriots fans, but is it really?
Let’s use the 49ers of the 1980’s as an example. In 1978 and 1979, they were billed “worse than expansion” by finishing 2-14 two seasons in a row, in the process setting the record for turnovers in a season and setting a franchise worst that still stands. After another “bleh” year in 1980, the 49ers broke out in 1981 and won 13 games, a trend that basically continued until their downfall in 1999.
Now, this can be applied to the Patriots. In the early 90’s, you couldn’t find a more poorly run franchise that was in as deep decline as New England. By the mid-90’s, they turned it around and won games, reaching the Super Bowl in 1996 and promptly losing. Their last “bleh” year was in 2000, coincidentally the year right before they turned everything around.
Another coincidence is that both teams, right before their success, drafted quarterbacks in later rounds that would turn out great: Joe Montana slid all the way to the 3rd round in 1979, while Tom Brady was picked in the 6th round of the 2000 draft. But that’s all irrelevant.
Now, San Francisco enjoyed great success in the 1990’s, reaching the NFC Title Game in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994 (they went on to win the Super Bowl that year), and 1997. They made the playoffs in every year apart from 1991 (despite finishing 10-6) and 1999 in the decade.
The Patriots won Super Bowls in rapid succession, with wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004, but they haven’t won the big game since. They lost the Super Bowl in 2007, falling to the 9-7 Giants despite finishing the regular season with a 16-0 record. In 2011, they reached the Super Bowl but lost to the same Giants.
This certainly isn’t the 2000’s anymore, we’re halfway through the 2010’s, and it begs the question: Why is New England still considered to be a “dynasty”? Simply put, they shouldn’t, and I’ll explain why.
Although the Patriots are winning a lot of games, they aren’t making any Super Bowls. They’ve made one in the decade and lost it, unimpressive to say the least. Now, the argument has to be made that the Patriots are constantly winning, and that’s true. They win a lot of games, they haven’t had a season with below 10 wins since 2000, but are they capitalizing on it? No, they’re not, and a “dynasty” has to do that.
Now, normally people would blurt out and say “But the 49ers were still a dynasty in the 1990’s when they were winning!”
Well…no, it wasn’t like that. San Francisco was winning, sure, but they kept tripping up right before the Super Bowl, and besides, they were “the Team of the 80’s”, with two teams threatening to become the teams of the 1990’s: the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ultimately won out and received the title of the Team of the 90’s, but it would have gone to the Bills, had they capitalized on three winnable Super Bowls. Regardless, San Francisco wasn’t a “dynasty” by the 90’s, they were just a good team.
New England can’t get over the hump either, take last year’s AFC Championship, for example. Tom Brady, with his talent, plus having guys like Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski at his disposal, should be able to go into noisy Denver and win a game against Peyton Manning, who for some reason is regarded as “old” and not as good as Tom Brady. They didn’t win, and even if they had, that was the Seahawks’ year. What resulted was another frustrating year of waiting under the tutelage of Bill “Darth Hoodie” Belichick and a bunch of snippy tweets from Brady’s wife, Gisele Bündchen.
Just repeat this to yourself: The Patriots have made one Super Bowl in the decade, and lost it. Other teams who did this:
- The 1994 San Diego Chargers made the Super Bowl, the only appearance in franchise history, and got hammered. This does not make them a dynasty.
- The 1979 Los Angeles Rams made the SUper Bowl, and lost to the Steelers. This does not make them a dynasty.
- The 1985 Patriots made the Super Bowl, and got crushed by the Chicago Bears. This does not make them a dynasty.
- Before 2013, the Seahawks made the Super Bowl in 2005, their only appearance ever, and lost it. This does not make them a dynasty.
- The 1998 Atlanta Falcons made the Super Bowl, the only appearance in franchise history, and got blown out. This does not make them a dynasty.
I can repeat it over and over like a mantra. These teams had success in their respective decades, the 1970’s Rams in particular, but appearing in one Super Bowl in the entire decade and losing it doesn’t make you a dynasty.
So, we conclude from this: The New England Patriots are no longer a dynasty, but they are a successful team.