More Impressive Stretch During Brady/BB Era?

Which stretch of the Brady/BB era has been more impressive?

  • 2001-2010

    Votes: 10 9.3%
  • 2011-2019

    Votes: 97 90.7%

  • Total voters
    107

RedOctober3829

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It’s the offseason which means it’s a good time for topics like this. I’ve been thinking about which end of the Brady/BB era is more impressive. The start and back end have been separately two of the best stretches for a team in NFL history. Which one is more impressive?

2001-2010
3 SBs
4 SB appearances
5 AFCCG appearances
8 AFC East titles
26.5 PPG O
17.9 PPG D
Avg PD of +137
Avg Lg PPG Ranking of 6.5
Avg Lg YPG Ranking of 9.9
Avg Lg Defensive PPG Ranking of 7
Avg Lg Defensive YPG of 14.5

2011-2018
3 SBs
5 SB appearances
8 AFCCG appearances
8 AFC East titles
29.5 PPG O
19.6 PPG D
Avg PD of +159
Avg Lg PPG Ranking of 2.875
Avg Lg YPG Ranking of 4.625
Avg Lg Defensive PPG of 8.125
Avg Lg Defensive YPG of 20.25
 

SMU_Sox

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It's interesting to me which one is better. 2001-2010 would have been like Bill Walsh and his run, which I think we can all agree was one of the best 10 year stretches if not the best in history before BB (reminder it was easier to develop and keep players back then). But 2011-2018 has been a greater run of success even if they don't do anything these next 2 years which is always a possibility with an aging QB and if they get hit with injuries. Finishing in the top 4 for 8 years counting is one of the greatest accomplishments of any franchise in sports in the modern age (free agency for all 4 leagues as well as full expansion).

To have these two eras back to back is stunning. Life is sweet.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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It has to be #2 at this point.

Maintaining excellence is just so hard in the NFL. The eight straight (and counting) AFCCG experiences really stands out as an amazing feat that will probably never be replicated. Its like Federer's streak of 23 straight GS semi-finals - a record in many ways more impressive than the actual number of championship wins.
 
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johnmd20

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It's the 2nd half and it's not even close. Not only have they maintained excellence, but they have actually been much better. Basically, AFC Championship game every season. That's unprecedented. And it's occurred with a QB that's over the age of 40.

It's one of the most inspiration and unbelievable runs in the history of sports. The first run of Super Bowls was awesome, but teams have had great 4 year runs. No team has had a 20 year run.
 

ifmanis5

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Before we all jump on the #2 choice, in my opinion, the quality of the opponents- teams, talent and coaches, were much better in the first half of the run and thus was the harder hill to climb.
 

InstaFace

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It's close, but it's still the Gronk Era. The point differential alone is a difference of like 1.5 points per game.

The only things the Seymour Era did better were (A) defense, but by less of a margin than I'd have thought, and (B) winning money for gamblers betting on the Patriots, who were still being underrated even through most of 2007.
 

RetractableRoof

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Interesting question.

Off the cuff: I think the first half he had more defensive talent to reduce the pressure, and he was asked to do a bit less.

Second half he did more and needed to do so. He had less defensive help (not diminishing the Butler and 2nd half defensive effort against Atlanta), rules changes favoring offense meant he had produce more to keep up with the QB Jones.
 

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To me, it’s the second half. My first thought was the aforementioned 8 straight AFCCGs.

I think another factor is that the second group comes on the heels of the first. I mean, yeah, on one hand, it is built on the first. But on the other, to have a second run after already having a dynasty period is just insane. The aspect of long sustained excellence is a check in favor of the second decade.

Coming full circle, the eight straight isn’t the only incredible streak. How about three straight SB appearances? With a chance for more?

What a great thing to be able to ponder.
 

wilked

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Before we all jump on the #2 choice, in my opinion, the quality of the opponents- teams, talent and coaches, were much better in the first half of the run and thus was the harder hill to climb.
This was my main consideration for voting for #1

I still voted #2, as to do this 'second half' run of domination after 10 years of crap for draft picks is truly admirable. The first 10 years at least followed 3 mediocre seasons where they picked up some good high selections like Seymour and Woody.

For the 2010s, besides always having bad draft position you had to deal with a lost draft pick in 2008 (Spygate).

The Pats overcame this lack of cheap young talent via trades, shrewd drafting, and Do Your Job approach, but to me the second decade is tougher than the first to accomplish this
 

tims4wins

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This was my main consideration for voting for #1

I still voted #2, as to do this 'second half' run of domination after 10 years of crap for draft picks is truly admirable. The first 10 years at least followed 3 mediocre seasons where they picked up some good high selections like Seymour and Woody.

For the 2010s, besides always having bad draft position you had to deal with a lost draft pick in 2008 (Spygate).


The Pats overcame this lack of cheap young talent via trades, shrewd drafting, and Do Your Job approach, but to me the second decade is tougher than the first to accomplish this
Um 2 first rounders.
 

luckiestman

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I think it is closer than many of you. It is harder to achieve excellence then to sustain it (both are hard).

The infrastructure is in place now. There is some randomness involved so just counting doesn’t do it for me. Years they didn’t win they easily could have and years they did win, they could have easily lost.

Getting those first 3 SB lent such credibility that future success is partly a dividend of that success.
 

tims4wins

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I think it is closer than many of you. It is harder to achieve excellence then to sustain it (both are hard).

The infrastructure is in place now. There is some randomness involved so just counting doesn’t do it for me. Years they didn’t win they easily could have and years they did win, they could have easily lost.

Getting those first 3 SB lent such credibility that future success is partly a dividend of that success.
Interesting perspective from a Jets fan - the Jets achieved their infamous back to back AFCCGs under Rex but couldn’t sustain. The Seahawks built success but couldn’t sustain. The Broncos. Packers. Steelers to a degree. Ravens. Giants. I think history shows you that sustaining is much much much harder.
 

luckiestman

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Interesting perspective from a Jets fan - the Jets achieved their infamous back to back AFCCGs under Rex but couldn’t sustain. The Seahawks built success but couldn’t sustain. The Broncos. Packers. Steelers to a degree. Ravens. Giants. I think history shows you that sustaining is much much much harder.
I see what you’re saying. I can’t compare those teams though. The closest thing in my mind is if Jimmy Johnson doesn’t have that crazy press conference with Jerry and leave and Aikman stays healthy. The infrastructure was so strong that Switzer won a SB. Similar thing with Seifert.

Once you have Brady in place and staying hungry and the coach who is nuts, you’re good to go. Brady can cover up a lot of problems.

I’m also not saying the first run is more impressive. I’m saying I need to think about it. I don’t think it is obvious.
 

BaseballJones

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The Patriots killed two dynasties in the cradle - the late 90's and early 00's Rams, and the 10's Seahawks. Moreover, they frustrated two extremely successful franchises that almost certainly would have won more championships than they did in this time frame - the Steelers and Colts.
 

jasail

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I voted for the most recent era. While I feel like the 1st era had greater continuity (and included some of my favorite individual players), what they've done in this second decade is an incredible accomplishment, particularly for the fact that was done in a league designed to prevent it from happening. Then again, Luckiest makes a solid point, and past success continues to pay dividends: useful, veteran role players consistently coming to NE to play for below market value, a reduced role, but a chance to win the big game.

That said, I view the past 17 years or so as three separate eras.
  • There was the Old Guard (01-07). Those were tough, defense first teams that abused finesse offenses and had a competent, balanced and largely mistake free offensive approach.
  • Then there was Can't Beat Em Join Em Era (07-13) of Pollian Ball. They followed the league and became the explosive, finesse offense that asked their defense to just do enough. Heck, they were phenomenal at it and had it not been for a few untimely injuries and fluky plays, they probably should have won a few during this era. All this despite frequently fielding softer than normal teams (including some of the least likable teams since my youth).
  • Lastly, we've had the Return of the Jedi era (14-19). With the Legion of Boom bringing defense back to football, the Pats were quickly rebuilt on the fly. They have become the ultimate swiss army knife. A team that can just as easily beat the snot out of the most potent offense in the game, as they can win a shoot out on the road in Arrowhead.
What I'm most excited for is that this team still seems poised to be that swiss army knife until Tom's arm falls off his body or he's decided he's tired of winning.
 
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jasail

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The Patriots killed two dynasties in the cradle - the late 90's and early 00's Rams, and the 10's Seahawks. Moreover, they frustrated two extremely successful franchises that almost certainly would have won more championships than they did in this time frame - the Steelers and Colts.
I can't get enough of demise of the Seahawks. That team had swagger. They were young, in a good position and probably on the verge of sustaining a 3-5 year dynasty. Then Hightower tripped up Lynch; Carroll called a pass; the Pats had studied their film and knew it was coming; Malcolm and Browner played it perfectly; and the rest is history. After that, Carroll lost the team, the team lots its swagger and before you know it they are rebuilding. Meanwhile, the Pats went to 3/4 of next 4 Super Bowls and a dynasty was reborn.
 

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I have said this in the past but I thought the Baltimore playoff debacle of 2009 was the beginning of the end of BB / Brady era at the time it happened. Yet here we are 10 years later with 8 more AFC Championship games, 5 super bowl appearances and 3 Super Bowls. Being able to sustain the excellence for another decade and rebuild the aging stale roster of 2009 is far more impressive to me.

What a run. Lucky to have witnessed it.
 

BaseballJones

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This year was the first time since 2009 that they had failed to win 12 or more regular season games. And all they managed to do was....win the Super Bowl.

If you divide the years up into 4 or 5 year chunks representing the BB era, here's what you could have:

2001-2004: 48-16 (.750), 3 div titles, 3 AFC titles, 3 SB titles
2005-2009: 59-21 (.734), 4 div titles, 1 AFC title
2010-2013: 51-13 (.797), 4 div titles, 1 AFC title
2014-2018: 62-18 (.775), 5 div titles, 4 AFC titles, 3 SB titles

Any one of these 4 or 5 year chunks would have been phenomenal, especially considering what state the Pats were in when BB took over. But to have all four of them? Holy smokes.

Now do it differently, two chunks:

The middle years (2005-2013): 110-34 (.764), 8 div titles, 2 AFC titles
The bookend years (2001-2004, 2014-2018): 110-34 (.764), 8 div titles, 7 AFC titles, 6 SB titles

Sick. Absolutely sick.
 
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I have said this in the past but I thought the Baltimore playoff debacle of 2009 was the beginning of the end of BB / Brady era at the time it happened. Yet here we are 10 years later with 8 more AFC Championship games, 5 super bowl appearances and 3 Super Bowls. Being able to sustain the excellence for another decade and rebuild the aging stale roster of 2009 is far more impressive to me.

What a run. Lucky to have witnessed it.
At the time, I thought 2005 was likely the beginning of the end.
 

Zososoxfan

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I also think the answer is the Second Dynastic Period, but I'd argue that 2 of the best 3 teams were the 2003 and 2004 vintage, the other being 2016. Likely another good topic thread, rate each year's Pats squad. I'd say that Championships, league ranks, and playoff opponents are the most important factors.

2016 squad finished 3rd in points forward, 1st in points against.

2004 squad finished 4th in points, 2nd in points against.

2003 squad finished 12th in points, 1st in points against.

Although, after looking at 2014 and 2018 again, it does get interesting:

2014 finished 4th and 8th

2018 finished 4th and 7th


This thread and any other of a similar nature could easily be titled Gigglesnort.
 
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I haaaaaaaate that 2009 is the year NFL Films got access to BB’s world. Would love to have seen something like that following him around during a super bowl winning season.
 

Super Nomario

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Before we all jump on the #2 choice, in my opinion, the quality of the opponents- teams, talent and coaches, were much better in the first half of the run and thus was the harder hill to climb.
I thought this too, but when I looked for data to prove this point, I'm not sure the facts back this up. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are similar between the two decades. Denver with Peyton was probably the equivalent of the better Colts teams in the 2000s. The Chargers were better in 2000s than the 2010s but it's the converse with the Chiefs. Maybe the 2000s had a tick better competition, but I don't see anything dramatic.

The Patriots killed two dynasties in the cradle - the late 90's and early 00's Rams, and the 10's Seahawks.
I think this is silly, to be honest. Those franchises fell off for the same reason most dynasties fall off - their good players got old and expensive and their new young players weren't as good.

Then there was Can't Beat Em Join Em Era (07-13) of Pollian Ball. They followed the league and became the explosive, finesse offense that asked their defense to just do enough. Heck, they were phenomenal at it and had it not been for a few untimely injuries and fluky plays, they probably should have won a few during this era. All this despite frequently fielding softer than normal teams (including some of the least likable teams since my youth).
You could maybe characterize the '07-'09 teams with Moss as "explosive" and "finesse," but I don't think that applies to the 2 TE squads of '10-'12. I believe no other team in history has had back-to-back 500-point seasons, and they went three in a row. Despite having pretty pedestrian running backs, they had some really effective run games, especially in 2012 when they ran for over 2,000 yards and 25 TDs. Some really good OLs even as they transitioned from Light to Solder, from Neal to Waters / Connolly, and from Connolly to Wendell.

The issue with those teams is the same thing I described above with St. Louis and Seattle - the Patriots' old defensive core got old and expensive and the new young guys weren't as good. It took a little bit to find their defensive groove, though I also think that, for instance, 2014 and 2018 defenses are pretty different (and might look quite different again in 2020).
 

Jimbodandy

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The fact that we have a thread where one Pats 10 year stretch with 3 super bowl wins is compared and contrasted with a different Pats 8 year stretch with 3 super bowl wins is fucking mindblowing.

I voted the latter, simply because they made the CG every year, but I love them both for different reasons. Basically they're The Godfather and The Godfather: Part 2.
 

Marciano490

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I can't get enough of demise of the Seahawks. That team had swagger. They were young, in a good position and probably on the verge of sustaining a 3-5 year dynasty. Then Hightower tripped up Lynch; Carroll called a pass; the Pats had studied their film and knew it was coming; Malcolm and Browner played it perfectly; and the rest is history. After that, Carroll lost the team, the team lots its swagger and before you know it they are rebuilding. Meanwhile, the Pats went to 3/4 of next 4 Super Bowls and a dynasty was reborn.
Um... this is one narrative, I’m not really sure it’s what actually happened. More like there were some injuries, other really good teams and then the cap did its usual work.
 

BaseballJones

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I think this is silly, to be honest. Those franchises fell off for the same reason most dynasties fall off - their good players got old and expensive and their new young players weren't as good.
Hardly silly. If the Rams had won, they'd have won two titles in three years, with the reigning MVP on the team. They'd have been considered a dynasty right there and the Patriots killed that. If Seattle had won, it would have been two straight titles for them, with a stud young QB and a generationally good defense still intact. They too would have been considered a dynasty, and the Patriots killed that.
 

TheoShmeo

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I think both the Rams and Seattle would have had to have won more before the Dynasty tag was widely accepted. I didn’t begin to use that word about the Pats until the third SB. It’s an inexact term, to be sure.
 

tims4wins

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I think both the Rams and Seattle would have had to have won more before the Dynasty tag was widely accepted. I didn’t begin to use that word about the Pats until the third SB. It’s an inexact term, to be sure.
I was watching the 2003 Super Bowl last week, and Gumbel/Simms said something along the lines of "in this day and age, 2 out of 3 is about as close to a dynasty as you'll see".

A) This made me giggle - they had no idea what the next 15 years would look like
B) It also made me think they would have crowned the Rams a dynasty if they had won XXXVI
 

tims4wins

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I also think the answer is the Second Dynastic Period, but I'd argue that 2 of the best 3 teams were the 2003 and 2004 vintage, the other being 2016. Likely another good topic thread, rate each year's Pats squad. I'd say that Championships, league ranks, and playoff opponents are the most important factors.

2016 squad finished 3rd in points forward, 1st in points against.

2004 squad finished 4th in points, 2nd in points against.

2003 squad finished 12th in points, 1st in points against.

Although, after looking at 2014 and 2018 again, it does get interesting:

2014 finished 4th and 8th

2018 finished 4th and 7th


This thread and any other of a similar nature could easily be titled Gigglesnort.
I hate that 2007 doesn't appear in here because that was the best team of all time.

By elo, the 2010 team was incredible.

But overall I would have to rank the 2004 Pats as their best team ever. Much better on offense than 2003 with Dillon. Not quite as awesome on D. And a more dominant postseason run: 20-3 over the unstoppable Colts, 41-27 over the 15-1 Steelers (and they had a 3 TD lead late), and then 24-21 over a 13-3 great Philly team (and again had a 10 point lead late).
 

NortheasternPJ

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I hate that 2007 doesn't appear in here because that was the best team of all time.

By elo, the 2010 team was incredible.

But overall I would have to rank the 2004 Pats as their best team ever. Much better on offense than 2003 with Dillon. Not quite as awesome on D. And a more dominant postseason run: 20-3 over the unstoppable Colts, 41-27 over the 15-1 Steelers (and they had a 3 TD lead late), and then 24-21 over a 13-3 great Philly team (and again had a 10 point lead late).
This. The 2007 team is the best team I've ever seen, even if they were losing steam down the stretch and then for some reason they cancelled the Super Bowl that year. But championships matter, if that team had finished the job or if that stupid 2010 Jet game plays out differently I would probably vote for 2001-2010.

But an AFC title game every year, 5 SB appearances as compared to 4 and 3 more titles makes my vote for the 2011- present squad.

Although I do agree with whoever said above that the competition, particularly in the AFC, was stronger during the first run.
 

Al Zarilla

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Another nice side effect of the second decade is it put an end to the GOAT QB controversy. Maybe now we have the GOAT football player controversy (Tom, Jim Brown and Jerry Rice).
 

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I see what you’re saying. I can’t compare those teams though. The closest thing in my mind is if Jimmy Johnson doesn’t have that crazy press conference with Jerry and leave and Aikman stays healthy. The infrastructure was so strong that Switzer won a SB. Similar thing with Seifert.

Once you have Brady in place and staying hungry and the coach who is nuts, you’re good to go. Brady can cover up a lot of problems.

I’m also not saying the first run is more impressive. I’m saying I need to think about it. I don’t think it is obvious.
When I think about that comparison, first thing that comes to mind isn't the infrastructure of that Cowboys era, it's the roster. Yes, it went to shit when Jimmy left but Switzer was able to win because it was basically still the same team. Then shit went downhill when Jerry went crazy. I see your point and agree with it, but I wouldn't attribute Switzer winning to remnants of Jimmy's infrastructure.
 

NortheasternPJ

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When I think about that comparison, first thing that comes to mind isn't the infrastructure of that Cowboys era, it's the roster. Yes, it went to shit when Jimmy left but Switzer was able to win because it was basically still the same team. Then shit went downhill when Jerry went crazy. I see your point and agree with it, but I wouldn't attribute Switzer winning to remnants of Jimmy's infrastructure.
I was going to reply with the whole salary cap thing going into effect, then did some research.

https://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/20/sports/pro-football-1994-cap-is-influencing-1993-giants.html

The bottom five teams in the survey were the Pittsburgh Steelers ($26,125,583), the Seattle Seahawks ($25,679,500), the Dallas Cowboys ($24,708,900), the New England Patriots ($20,065,888) and the Cincinnati Bengals ($19,190,750).
The Cowboys did all that with a super low payroll and the terrible NEP and the Bengals were the only two teams below them.
 

Euclis20

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I think this is silly, to be honest. Those franchises fell off for the same reason most dynasties fall off - their good players got old and expensive and their new young players weren't as good.
Agreed. The Rams are mentioned because of the Ricky Proehl quote (which I love) and the Seahawks because it exacerbated the rift between QB/Coach and their defense.

Truly the dynasty that never was was the Steelers. 3 super bowl appearances and 2 wins in 6 seasons would look better if they weren't 0/3 in AFC title games against the Pats.
 

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It's the 2nd half and it's not even close. Not only have they maintained excellence, but they have actually been much better. Basically, AFC Championship game every season. That's unprecedented. And it's occurred with a QB that's over the age of 40.

It's one of the most inspiration and unbelievable runs in the history of sports. The first run of Super Bowls was awesome, but teams have had great 4 year runs. No team has had a 20 year run.
Pretty much this, but I was kind of surprised to see the split, I thought many more would have picked the first run.
 

luckiestman

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Pretty much this, but I was kind of surprised to see the split, I thought many more would have picked the first run.

How can you and John say they’ve been much better? MUCH? 07 was the greatest team of all time. Yeah, they didn’t finish it off because of some fluke play, whatever.

No 9 year period can be MUCH better than 3 bowl wins and the greatest team ever assembled.
 

InstaFace

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No 9 year period can be MUCH better than 3 bowl wins and the greatest team ever assembled.
SF 49ers 1981-1990 (because dividing by 10 is less messy):
4 SBs
4 SB appearances
6 NFCCG appearances
8 NFC West titles
24.3 PPG O
15.8 PPG D
Avg PD of +135.6
Avg Lg PPG Ranking of 4.9
Avg Lg YPG Ranking of 3.3
Avg Lg Defensive PPG Ranking of 5.1
Avg Lg Defensive YPG of 7.4

+1 legendary 18-1 team that DID win the SB (1984). Then again, SRS says the 1987 team was even better (+13.3 to +12.7), and they lost a wacky divisional playoff game to Minnesota.
 

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The 1989 team went 14-2 with two losses by a combined 5 points. Then outscored their opponents 126-26 in the playoffs.
 

Oppo

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The second half, which still has 2 more years of arbitrary time, to be capped off with another SB and retirement.
 

JMDurron

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I picked the second era for a reason that I hadn’t seen mentioned yet. The highs of the two eras make for interesting debates, and the persistent excellence of the second era has been discussed.

To me, even while both eras have had disappointing one-off playoff losses before the Super Bowl (2005, 2006, and 2009 compared to 2012, 2013, and 2015), there is no single season in the second era where the team performed as poorly as the 2002, 2008, or 2009 teams. The 1st era contains all three of the worst seasons in this awesome run, which weighs it down heavily in my mind.
 

NortheasternPJ

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I picked the second era for a reason that I hadn’t seen mentioned yet. The highs of the two eras make for interesting debates, and the persistent excellence of the second era has been discussed.

To me, even while both eras have had disappointing one-off playoff losses before the Super Bowl (2005, 2006, and 2009 compared to 2012, 2013, and 2015), there is no single season in the second era where the team performed as poorly as the 2002, 2008, or 2009 teams. The 1st era contains all three of the worst seasons in this awesome run, which weighs it down heavily in my mind.
I find it hard to have 2002 and 2008 weigh them down much, if at all. The 2002 team was coming off of 2001 and the team was likely to regress off a cinderella season. Plus they only didn't make the playoffs based upon a 3 way tiebreaker. The 2008 season is actually a huge plus in my book without Brady.
 

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2008 I don't hold against them, but in 2002 they were 9-7 and needed a miracle in that last home game against the Dolphins to even get to 9. That's the worst BB team since 2001 by far. 2009 wasn't a bad team by mortal standards, but that team had zero chance of advancing in the playoffs which has not happened to them once in the 2nd half of the run.
 

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How can you and John say they’ve been much better? MUCH? 07 was the greatest team of all time. Yeah, they didn’t finish it off because of some fluke play, whatever.

No 9 year period can be MUCH better than 3 bowl wins and the greatest team ever assembled.
Are we reading "much" differently here?

My post was " I pretty much" agree with his assessment.
 

tims4wins

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That’s fair I guess. Not sure why 2009 stands out, maybe because the playoff game was a joke.
Only in retrospect. Especially after watching A Football Life. Better DVOA than the 2016 team.

Edit: the 2009 team finished 10-6. That included the week 17 fiasco in which they didn't really have anything at stake. It also included a 1 point loss at Indy (4th and 2), a 3 point loss in OT in Denver in which Gost missed a 40 yard field goal in the 3rd quarter (and in which the Pats had a 10 point lead), and a 1 point loss in Miami in which the Pats had an 11 point lead, and also included a Brady pick from the Miami 5 yard line in the second half. That team could easily have gone 13-3 and been the 1 seed.
 
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m0ckduck

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Jul 20, 2005
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I picked the second era for a reason that I hadn’t seen mentioned yet. The highs of the two eras make for interesting debates, and the persistent excellence of the second era has been discussed.

To me, even while both eras have had disappointing one-off playoff losses before the Super Bowl (2005, 2006, and 2009 compared to 2012, 2013, and 2015), there is no single season in the second era where the team performed as poorly as the 2002, 2008, or 2009 teams. The 1st era contains all three of the worst seasons in this awesome run, which weighs it down heavily in my mind.
I feel it's an argument between meteoric talent (first era) vs. sustained systemic excellence (second era). The first era had higher highs (3 SBs in 4 years; Brady starting 10-0 in playoffs; 21 straight wins; the 2007 team knocking on the door of immortality; the two best teams by DVOA of the BB era) but also lower lows (playoffs missed in 2002, 2008, divisional round exits in 2009 and 2010). The second era was when the franchise became a machine, churning out AFC title appearances despite fielding lesser top-level talent than competitors in many instances.

I mention this partly because, although I agree with the consensus that the second era is more impressive, the first thing that popped into my head when I read the original thread title was '21 straight wins).
 

Eddie Jurak

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I kind of see it as 3 eras.
  • I: 2001 to 2007.
  • II: 2008 to 2013
  • III: 2014 to now
Era I: Belichick built and maintained the team. He started with a young up and coming QB who would, of course, be known as one of the All-Time greats before this era ended. On top of that, Belichick brought a then unmatched (and perhaps still unmatched) understanding of how to maximize the return on limited resources (ie, the salary cap), including the understanding that even very good players could become liabilities if paid market value in free agency and the ability to differentiate between flashy-but-overrated players and legitimately valuable ones. (It's not a huge surprise that BB was an economics major). And, of course, his ability as a coach. This era ended in a single play, when Bernard Pollard blew up Brady's ACL in game 1, 2008 and the Pats missed the playoffs. Seven years, 6 playoff appearances, 3-1 in four SBs, 4-1 in 5 AFC CGs, the loan loss being a game they came very close to winning.

Era II: This is kind of the wilderness era for me. They started without Brady, had some difficulties putting talent on the field - in part due to being penalized a first-round pick, and had the only 3-year stretch in Belichick's tenure without a SB appearance. It felt to me during tis time that the league had caught up to BB, at least to some degree. Notably, though, the 3 worst years of this era were the first 3 (the Cassel year - no playoffs; a WC game loss, and a division loss) before the team ended this era trending up, with a SB loss and 2 AFC CG losses. There were still some problems putting talent on the field at certain positions - for example, 2013 was the Aaron Dobson/Kenbrell Thompkins year. 6 years, lost their lone SB appearance, 1-2 in 3 AFC CGs, but ended this era far better than they began it.

Era III: Back on top. It feels here like BB made some adjustments, most obviously this is when trading for players became a thing again, maybe also the heavy reliance on comp picks. This time, Pats were able to withstand frivolous punishments that impact their ability to procure talent. 5 years, 3-1 in 4 SB appearances, 4-1 in 5 AFC CGs. This past year the Pats had their worst regular season since 2008-2009, but still won the SB. This era is not over yet.