Column: After Super Bowl Loss, Patriots Face Uncertain Future

Emma Bargiacchi reacts to a touchdown at Game On Fenway during the third quarter of the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018. Photo by Jess Richardson / BU News Service

By Brian Lombardo
BU News Service 

As you may have heard by now, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl last night 41-33.

The Eagles overcame a ridiculous effort by Tom Brady in which he threw 505 yards, completed 28 of his 48 passing attempts and added three touchdowns. In fact, Tom Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to lose a game with at least 500 yards passing, three touchdown passes and no interceptions, according to ESPN Stats & Info. That statistic accounts for both the regular season and playoffs.

There is no reason to make excuses for the Patriots. It doesn’t matter that they lost wide receiver Julian Edelman in the preseason to a season-ending torn ACL or lost linebacker Dont’a Hightower to a torn pectoral muscle that also required season-ending surgery.

You can’t blame dissension in the locker room over whatever it was that kept cornerback and Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler on the sideline for the entire game.

It wasn’t that offensive and defensive coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia were busy thinking about their looming head coaching jobs in Indianapolis and Detroit, respectively.

And the reported Brady-Belichick-Kraft tension did not spill onto the field — if there was a tension at all.

All of that needs to be put aside. Leave it in a folder marked “2017 NFL SEASON.” We’re on to next season, as Belichick said.

But next year comes with a lot of question marks, and things seemingly got worse during the post-game press conferences.

Butler seems as good as gone. He will become an unrestricted free agent. Receiving zero defensive snaps in the biggest game of the season seems like it could be the icing on the cake for him to leave.

He said that he felt like he could’ve changed the game. He was not injured. Yet the only thing Belichick had to say about it was that Butler sat for “football reasons.” I think we can count him out.

The emotions that come with losing this big of a game will also make you think a lot about the effects a long NFL season has on the body.

We saw an emotional reaction from Rob Gronkowski post-game, who said that he’ll be “looking over his future.” As if there wasn’t enough to talk about this offseason, now the “Will ‘Gronk’ retire?” segments will be slotted all over sports talk radio shows in Boston.

Personally, I think this nothing more than that knee-jerk reaction after a loss. It’s the same thing we saw a few years back from Earl Thomas when an injury put a stop to his season and Seattle’s playoff hopes. I think Gronk will back. He’s 28 years old and on pace to not only be the greatest tight end in the history of football, but potentially be in the top three of all players for touchdown receptions in a career.

Finally, the only player on the roster that’s been to all eight Super Bowls since 2000: the quarterback, the theoretical “greatest of all time,” Tom Brady.

I don’t want to sound like Max Kellerman or any of the other Patriot haters out there, but it’s tough to sit back tonight and be confident that the now-40-year-old, three-time NFL Most Valuable Player can bring the team right back to this same spot next season as a 41-year-old. Brady may be the poster child for health, but football is a game that gets younger every season. Soon, a forty-something quarterback just isn’t going to cut it.

This offseason will be filled with decisions for the Patriots. All that can be done is to kick back, watch it unfold and see if the organization makes the right decisions.

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