The trade of Jamie Collins, who Bill Belichick himself once indirectly compared to Lawrence Taylor, was a false flag operation.
It was an inside job, a trade that was meant to do damage to the Patriots’ team psyche. Belichick knows that late October and early November is no time for a team to peak, and at 7-1 and with no clear competition in the AFC, the Patriots were set to coast through the rest of the regular season without much of a challenge. So Belichick created his own challenge.
How will the Patriots be able to survive without the most athletic player on their team? Figure it out, guys. Figure it out over these next two months.
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When I first heard that Collins was dealt, I literally thought it was a Twitter troll joke. Friggin’ ADARN Schefter had struck again!
But after processing it for a few hours, I recalled one particular quote from the masterful “oral history of Bill Belichick” piece that ran in ESPN The Magazine last month. Rick Venturi, who was a member of Belichick’s coaching staff in Cleveland, said the following of the current HC of the NEP: “If [Belichick] has a motivational style, I’d say that it’s constant emotional discomfort. That’s why his teams never flatline.”
The Patriots, who have ripped off four straight easy wins since Tom Brady returned from his Deflategate suspension, were surely getting a little too comfortable emotionally. Remember, this is a team that has been invested in the Deflategate, “everyone’s out to get us” rallying cry for nearly two years now. It was starting to wear thin.
Also remember that the Patriots did flatline last season at a crucial point in their year, losing to the lowly Philadelphia Eagles at home in December. It was one of the more perplexing losses of the Belichick era. All told, the Pats lost four out of their last six games in last year’s regular season and were never the same after losing in Denver on that Sunday night after Thanksgiving. Belichick’s teams traditionally peak after Thanksgiving, and the hoodie absolutely does not want a 2015 scenario to play out again.
So now, come playoff time, Belichick will be able to point back to this point in the season. He’ll be able to point back to that shocking Halloween day where he did “what’s best for the football team.”
He’ll be able to say that his team has already been through a great deal of adversity. He’ll be able to say that whatever emotional trauma they’re about to deal with “against the Broncos, or the Steelers, or the Cowboys or the Seahawks” is nothing compared to that ugly Halloween day when he did what was “best for the football team.”
Without a doubt, there’s a great deal of uneasiness and emotional discomfort going around the Patriots locker room today. Trading away one of your best players is the ultimate wake-up call, and every single player will have the full attention of the coaching staff going forward.
When media members give Belichick praise to his face, he almost always says, “It’s not about me, it’s about the players.”
And that is a great lie.
Belichick is one of the most self-aware persons this planet has ever produced and he knows full well how great of a coach he is. His ego is larger than Alan Branch’s stomach, and he knows full well that he is the only football coach on the planet that can get away with basically releasing a player of Collins’ caliber.
The Patriots made this move on a bye week, and unlike the time when they shockingly released Lawyer Milloy, they will have an extra week to mull this one over. Players will be mourning the loss of Collins this week, but next week they will be laser-focused on the Seahawks and the final two months of their season.
The Patriots won’t be flat-lining anytime soon despite the “loss” of one of their top players.