In one of those goofy little slow-season clickbait articles, ESPN’s NFL Insiders just did a ranking of the future of all 32 teams in the league. “Future” being defined in NFL terms, meaning the next three years. It consisted of Field Yates, Louis Riddick, and Mike Sando scoring every franchise on its roster, coaching staff, quarterback, draft, and front office on a scale of zero to 100.
Surprising to the point of stunned, slack-jawed, I-can’t-believe-Han-Solo-is-dead-level shock, is that they have the Patriots ranked number two on the list, mere decimal points (88.5 t0 88.3) behind Seattle. No other team rated higher than 85.0.
In other words, ESPN, the organization that has dedicated its existence over the last decade and a half to ripping the Patriots as a potent, foul cocktail of corruption, arrogance, dishonesty and incompetent talent evaluation has them as likely to keep the dynasty going into its 19th season, at least.
It seriously has to be poison in the mouths of the unindicted co-conspirators down in Bristol to have to admit that. Particularly given that the quarterback they’ve put so much time and effort into defaming will be soon be turning an age in which most QBs are taken out back behind the barn and put out of their misery.
But it gets worse. The highest ranking in any of the five categories they used – by far – went to the focus of evil in the World Wide Leader universe: Bill Belichick, who gets an overall ranking of 99.7. Now, I’m too pretty to do math, but if my calculations are correct, that means two of the graders have him a perfect 100 and the other gave him a 99.
Writes Field Yates, “When his coaching career is over, Bill Belichick may well have established himself as the best ever to do it in the NFL. He’s a brilliant strategist, a great hands-on teacher and a master of in-game adjustments. Now 64 years old, he’s among the oldest NFL coaches, but there’s no sign of Belichick slowing down anytime soon. His passion is unquestioned.”
I can’t imagine anything more painful for ESPN to say. The guy they detest as sullen, ego maniacal and a conniving cheater gets an almost perfect score from their own experts. How many times have we heard the “game has passed Belichick by”? Or been told football is evolving under some new trendy flavor of the month like Chip Kelly or some random Harbaugh brother? Or had to listen to “They’re not good any more”?
Now they’re conceding that the future belongs to Bill Belichick and his Patriots. It has to feel like the Rebel Alliance official Facebook page admitting that Darth Vader runs a hell of an empire. And it is magnificent. File this one away for the next time someone says they hate the Patriots, Brady and Belichick or the dynasty is over. Because the future is yours.