It boils down to two men. And only two men. Everyone is is a guest star.
The New England Patriots, as close to a dynasty as the modern free agent rules will allow, have endured because of change. There is Bill Belichick. There is Tom Brady.
And there are a bunch of guys named Ned.
This is one of finest two-man shows since Simon and Garfunkel, since Abbott and Costello, since Martin and Lewis. Belichick and Brady will play in their seventh Super Bowls next week.
Through it all, the one constant has been change. This isn’t like the old Steelers’ dynasty or the old Packers, who pretty much role a set lineup to victory.
Remember Charlie Weis? He was the old offensive coordinator, and everyone – especially Charlie – would tell you how vital he was. And then Weis left the Patriots, and he didn’t seem so bright. He went through Notre Dame and Kansas, but he was never the same.
Remember Scott Pioli? Pioli was the architect, right? Except that when he went to Kansas City, success didn’t follow. Pioli didn’t last.
There were Romeo Crennell and Josh McDaniels (who came back). There were Wes Welker and Richard Seymour. Tedy Bruschi and Randy Moss. Logan Mankins and Vince Wilfork.
This year, there was Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins.
This is a dynasty with a revolving door. No coach has ever turned loose of as many good players as Belichick, who can be a ruthless leader. But he keeps winning alive.
Of course, in today’s game, a team can go a long way with a superior coach and a superior quarterback. As a team, the Patriots do not dazzle you with a long list of Hall of Famers. They ride very good players – Julian Edelman, Devin McCourty, LeGarrette Blount – but who besides Belichick and Brady seems destined for the Hall of Fame. (Tight end Rob Gronkowski is injured.
Yeah, you can win with just a coach and a quarterback.
As long as they’re Belichick and Brady.