The Patriots’ 18-year NFL dynasty fact-checking: What’s real, what’s just myth
We’re 18 years into the New England Patriots dynasty. The run that began in the 2001 regular season will likely continue into the third decade, which is unprecedented in most sports and seems downright unfathomable in the modern NFL, where salary cap cuts and salary caps conspire to bring down teams that promises before they develop. comfortably at the top of their division. There may never be a team like the Tom Brady -Bill Belichick Patriots again.
However, based on his 18-year reign, the Patriot has accumulated a lot of popular folklore. There are many stories and arguments about how the Patriots performed and what they did to win the game, and while some of them are true, many of them are not. Some of these ideas may have been true at one time, but may not become reality for years. Others are based on insufficient samples, with one play or games used to tell a broader story without any testing or support.
I wrote about myths for the eight-team playoff last week . With the Patriots, I find that the common claims made regarding New England are inaccurate. Despite what you may hear during Pats games, there is no evidence that the Patriots consistently employ a tough-but-never-break defense. Belichick doesn’t tell his defenders to suddenly find out in the red zone because that wouldn’t make sense. Good defense is also good all over the field.
After that, I discovered a whole list of stories that seemed to be popping up about or around the Patriots organization. ( Brady on Sunday gave me another one for his list.) I went and tested those theories using data from New England over the last 18 years. Some of it turns out to be complete nonsense. Others, surprisingly, are completely correct according to website.
Fact check: You can’t touch Brady
One of the sore spots for fans frustrated by the Patriots was the supposed treatment given to Brady after Bernard Pollard tore Brady’s ACL on a low blow in Week 1 of 2008 . Before the 2009 season began, the NFL implemented the «Brady Rule» which prohibited forced hits below the knee against quarterbacks in the pocket. Frustrated Cincinnati Bengals fans wondered why the league didn’t care so much about low blows after Kimo von Oelhoffen crushed Carson Palmer’s knee during the 2005 playoffs, and it’s fair to say they had complaints.
However, since then, every rough passing call against a Patriots opponent has prompted complaints that you can’t even breathe on Brady without being flagged for a penalty. This one seems easy enough to test. Are the Pats taking passer calls at a disproportionate rate?
Using data from ESPN Stats & Information, I looked back at 2009 (when Brady returned and new rules went into effect) and analyzed how often each team benefited from rough passer decisions. New England’s opponents were penalized 28 times, which is the 18th highest total in football. The Cleveland Browns received more passing calls on their quarterback than the Patriots.