In Bill We Trust? Lighten up, folks

Alan Greenwood

There have been a lot of “In Bill We Trusts” uttered since The Trade.

Anything Bill Belichick does demands capitalization, right?

Will gaining a second-round draft pick for Quarterback-In-Waiting Jimmy Garoppolo prove to be an act of sheer Belichickian genius? Maybe. Who knows? All drafts in all sports are crapshoots. The Patriots have had plenty of success in the annual NFL cattle call, and have had their fair share of duds.

But reacting to any move the Pats make by solemnly intoning “IBWT” is, of course, ridiculous. It is also annoying, since its only value is to shut down any discussion of any personnel decision Belichick makes.

Before charges of heresy are made, let this serve as the standard disclaimer: Belichick is the greatest coach in NFL history. The numbers bear that out – and not just the five Super Bowls and seven conference championships. The Patriots have been legitimate contenders since Year 2 of Belichick’s (and Tom Brady’s) reign. That is an astounding accomplishment, even with a Hall of Fame coach and QB, particularly in a league that does everything in its power to maintain a sense of competitive parity.

But that does not make Belichick’s every move beyond reproach, or beyond simple water-cooler conversation.

Undoubtedly there is a backstory to the Garoppolo trade that we may never completely learn. Like most Patriots backstories, it will leak out slowly. Still, without that insight, there are sound arguments for it and against it. Those with a superior working knowledge of the NFL salary cap system, the franchise label and the rest of that bureaucratic folderol can have at it.

All we know is that it is surely a high-stakes gamble. At its core is an assumption that Brady is capable of playing at his current level until he is 45 – hey, eat enough guacomole ice cream and the guy may make it to 50.

Or, no matter how nutritionally sound he remains, Brady’s skills could begin to erode once he gets drilled by a defensive end for the umpteenth time this season. Or the GOAT’s demise could come next season, maybe for no other reason than that his aging process starts making up for lost time.

When any professional athlete is north of 40, the end can come quickly, without warning sirens sounding. Belichick is in the best position to make that judgment, whenever it has to be made. His capability to stress the small stuff that his coaching brethren never notice is a large reason for his historic success.

Maybe Belichick has decided that Garoppolo is not the heir-apparent, for whatever reason. He’d be making that call after watching Garoppolo every day for more than three seasons.

The amateurs are left with six quarters of real-time football to ponder.

Let’s all hope that Brady does have another five years of great quarterbacking left in him. Let’s all hope that Belichick is proven to be right on the money with this deal.

And as we hope for the best, let’s grasp the reality that a mortal football coach can occasionally make the wrong call.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood or @Telegraph_ AlanG.