Lane Johnson can disparage the Patriots Way, but New England has been dominant for almost 20 years, proving their beliefs are conducive to greatness.
On Feb. 3, 2002, the New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl, engineering a historic upset of the St. Louis Rams. Nineteen months later, less than a week before the start of the 2003 season, head coach Bill Belichick stunned the football world and released Lawyer Milloy.
Milloy, a four-time Pro Bowler with three years remaining on his contract, was floored. His former teammates shared that emotion, wondering about the direction of the franchise. On ESPN’s NFL Countdown, analyst Tom Jackson took Belichick to task, famously stating that “they hate their coach.”
The Patriots and the coach they supposedly hated won the next two Super Bowls.
Last week, Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson revealed his thoughts on Belichick and his charges, believing that it isn’t fun to play in Foxborough. On Monday, former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi refuted that claim, per Pro Football Talk.
Johnson has the right to his beliefs, but that doesn’t mean he’s correct. The Patriots have been authoring the greatest dynasty in NFL history, one that has spanned the better part of two decades. Belichick has continuously acted in surprising fashion, getting rid of players earlier than expected. Other times, he has benched starters with no apparent reason, most-recently with Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII.
Yet for all of his idiosyncrasies, Belichick has remained ahead of the league and on top of the athletic world. New England has reached seven Super Bowls since 2001. It has been to a dozen conference title games, including the previous seven consecutively. The record speaks for itself.
Since taking over in 2000, the Patriots are an astounding 214-72. They have not enduring a losing season in all the years following Belichick’s maiden voyage in New England, showcasing a commitment to winning unmatched by any other franchise.
Since 2011, the Patriots have won 13 postseason games. The Cleveland Browns have won 24 games total. In a league built for parity, the Patriot Way has defied every odd and obstacle in its path.
It might not always be enjoyable, but it certainly is on Sundays.
New England has lorded over the NFL since many of its current players were in grade school. After years of seeing the same king, it becomes both tiresome and enraging. Johnson and his Philadelphia Eagles are champions, beating the Patriots in the only game which matters in New England.
For Philadelphia, the celebration may very well last a lifetime, and rightfully so. In New England, where the Patriot Way rules, those celebrations are expected to be annual. Anything less is an organizational failure.
Hate them, love them, it matters not. The Patriots are boring and drab, unquotable and robotic.
Yet in the end, there they are, consistently playing deep into January and often February, sticking to the Patriot Way.