Patriots are in no position to tank this season, and Bill Belichick would actually have to blow up the entire team in the next month to be able to tank for Trevor Lawrence.
I've seen the "tank for Trevor Lawrence" trend floating amongst Patriots fans on Twitter and Instagram. Though I don't disagree with the theory, it would be fantastic to go through one season of mediocre football and then bring instantly competitive the very next year after getting the best quarterback in the draft, I just don't see it happening.
When you think of a Bill Belichick lead team, there has never been a single hint that he has it in him to tank. The Patriots also have way too talented and way too competitive of a roster to lose enough games to snag Trevor Lawrence.
I see no scenario that Stephon Gilmore, Dont'a Hightower, Devin McCourty, and Julian Edelman are just going to roll over and die because Tom Brady is playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Infact, McCourty is already embracing the underdog status, and he appears very ready to go out and prove the football world wrong.
We're also talking about a coaching staff that instinctively added extra two point plays before Super Bowl 51, didn't take a timeout with seconds left in Super Bowl 49, and added the most unusual formations against the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round. I've always believed that Belichick has an evacuation plan if the field were to be get invaded during a game, so unless they just stopped preparing all together, and purposely came up with awful game plans, I just can't see the Patriots losing enough games to secure the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
That hasn't stopped people and the media from suggesting the idea, and I get the logics in theory, it's the practicality that keep skeptical.
“I think what they’re going to do is like Miami did last year,” Cowherd said on his radio show recently. “Create a culture, or in New England’s case, maintain it. Not be very good at quarterback … playing to win, but losing. And knowing you’re going to lose.” - Colin Cowherd
Again, the theory is great, but nobody has really been able to show me the how. If the Patriots were going to actually tank, Belichick has a lot of work to do before the season starts.
"What makes you skeptical about the Patriots tanking? - Let’s start off with the fact that head coach Bill Belichick is about to turn 68 and is far closer to the end of his career than the beginning. It’s hard to imagine he wants to be part of a long-term rebuilding project if there was a way to avoid it. Keep in mind that there’s ego involved here. Belichick would love to win without Brady. There’s a case to be made that his best year as a head coach was that 2008 season where he nearly made the postseason with Matt Cassel as his quarterback. While Cassel had more offensive weapons than Stidham will have this upcoming season, Belichick may be curious to see if he could have similar success." - Hunter Felt, The Guardian
It's hard to argue with this logic, but I still haven't heard Belichick say that he wants to win without Brady. Felt is another media member presenting his opinion as fact. But, the 2008 season is telling that Belichick can win without Brady. The Patriots missed the postseason, but they finished 11-5, that was the same record they had in 2018 when they won the Super Bowl. Before the Brady fan club goes crazy on me, 11-5 was a huge step back from the 16-0 season they had the year before with Brady at quarterback, and Stidham is not going to have the luxury of Randy Moss and Wes Welker like Cassel's did. But, we can acknowledge that Belichick had success in New England without Brady.
Jarrett Stidham is also an interesting case. He had what a lot of people would describe as an awful 2018 season at Auburn. But, college football is also very fluid. Stidham's 2018 draft profile was a lot different than his 2019 draft profile.
"Jarrett Stidham may have turned down an opportunity to hear his name called on the first day of next week's NFL Draft. Stidham, who opted to return for his redshirt junior season instead of turning pro early, could have potentially been a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, according to one analyst. "There's nothing that is going to stand out as a great big checkmark for Stidham, but when you start checking off the boxes and you say, 'You know, he doesn't have a lot of minuses here,'" NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein said Tuesday on WJOX's 3 Man Front. "That's the kind of guy that starts to get pushed up the board. I think somebody might have dipped into the late part of the first round, and worst-case scenario he would have been a second-round pick." - Tom Green, AL.com
That article was written right before the 2018 NFL Draft. Obviously things took a turn in 2018 at Auburn, and Stidham dropped to the fourth round. I'm not saying that we have another Tom Brady situation on our hands, and the Patriots have the next GOAT, but it does tell us that Stidham's ceiling may be a lot higher than maybe the media, and know it all Patriots fans are presenting.
That further tells me that the Patriots are in no position to tank this season, and Bill Belichick would actually have to blow up the entire team in the next month to be able to tank for Trevor Lawrence. Even after blowing up the team, Belichick would have to show enormous discipline not to properly coach the team. The New England situation is not the same as the Miami situation. Brian Flores could turnout to be a great coach, but he was rookie last season, Belichick is the GOAT, so as great as drafting Trevor Lawrence sounds, it feels like it's virtually impossible.