“They’re weak. They’re not a good team anymore.’’
ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer
So here you go.
The Patriots are free-falling and it’s open season on the arrogant/smarter-than-you “System.” Folks are lining up to skewer the franchise that has consistently given the NFL and the national/local media the finger during a decade and a half of division dominance and Super Bowl contention.
Listening to the postgame fallout from Monday night’s 41-14 Arrowhead massacre made your ears bleed. It was a field day for Patriot haters. And they are legion.
You could tell that folks have been waiting for this. Before the game, I heard ESPN’s Steve Young and Trent Dilfer burying the Patriots for trading Logan Mankins and failing to support aging Tom Brady with sufficient weaponry. They embraced the theme that the Patriots are content to merely make the playoffs in their easy, cheesy division.
By the end of the night, the darts and arrows were coming from every direction. Bill Belichick was grilled about his musical-chair offensive line and the notion of starting two rookies in front of Brady in a loud enemy theater. The coach was asked if he might have to “evaluate” his quarterback position; the question from CSNNE’s Mike Giardi elicited a smirk with no comment.
There were hysterical calls for out-of-work Charlie Weis to replace Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. Darrelle Revis was compared to Carl Crawford (OK, that one was me). It was noted that no Belichick defense had ever surrendered 300 yards in a first half. There was a television graphic explaining that the Patriots offense ranks last in the NFL, averaging 4.6 yards per play. We were told that Brady has missed his target more than 25 percent of the time.
“I’ve never seen a team so unprepared,’’ former Patriot Rodney Harrison said on WEEI.
It didn’t stop there. The Globe’s intrepid Ben Volin mentioned the awkward moment when Brady ignored backup Jimmy Garoppolo after the kid threw his first NFL touchdown pass.
Brady did not make his weekly, contractually obligated WEEI appearance Tuesday, and the Patriots are saying he’ll appear on Wednesday.
A Boston radio station rolled out old audio of Patriots owner Bob Kraft (like the Patriots, the Kraft family highchairs did not make it to KC) explaining the importance of managing the “bottom third” of the roster.
It was noted that Danny Amendola — the guy the Patriots paid when they wouldn’t pay Wes Welker — has three catches for 16 yards on the season. Amendola also has a 15-yard penalty, which makes him a plus-1-yard guy.
Oh, and Tim Wright, the coveted tight end acquired when Mankins was banished because he wouldn’t restructure his contract?
Thus far, Wright is another Rutgers zero.
Remember how we said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were dopes because they didn’t know how to properly use the skills of the vaunted Revis? So what are we seeing? The Patriots are paying Revis $12 million to stay back in zone coverage.
Monday’s beatdown exposed rising star defensive end Chandler Jones as a guy who can’t stop the run. And it’s clear that Vince Wilfork no longer stands as the Jersey barrier in the middle of the D-line.
The sum of all this hate and hysteria probably amounts to . . . little.
Brady is not going to be replaced by Garoppolo this year and the Patriots are still going to the playoffs. In case you missed it, they still play in the AFC East, and as long as the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins remain in the Warhol (tomato can) Division, the Patriots are a safe bet to make the postseason and “earn” a first-round home game.
Take a look at the standings. As bad as the Patriots have been, they are tied for first place. After a tough game this weekend (the undefeated Bengals invade Gillette Stadium Sunday night), the Patriots have back-to-back games against the Bills and Jets. The Bills have already replaced their starting quarterback. The Jets will be 1-5 when they come to New England.
These are interesting times at Gillette. Watching Kraft’s escalating cartoonishness, the inevitable erosion of “In Bill We Trust,’’ and Brady morphing into Drew Bledsoe circa 2000-01 makes for a lot of noise in this Foxborough fall of 2014.
But the dirty little secret, of course, is that the Patriots really haven’t been championship-driven for a while. Artificially inflated by their fortunate spot in the Warhol, they have settled for a string of Adams Division flags while compiling almost zero impressive wins in January.
Since Jacksonville in 2005, they’ve been punched in the mouth in the final game every year. This year, we’re just seeing it a little earlier. And millions of frustrated folks with Patriot cleat marks on their backs are ready to pounce.Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@ globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan Shaughnessy.