And Wizard Of The Year Goes To… Bill Belichick
Even Slythern produces powerful wizards.
And New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is definitely a Slythern product. But alas, give a wizard his dues. Belichick deserves the Wizard of the Year (WOY) trophy -- no doubt.
In case you're wizard-ignorant, the WOY award goes to the NFL's most powerful wizard. A man with so much power, he makes Voldemort look like a parent-less bitch. So you're probably wondering: Why not give it to Harry Potter? He's the LeBron James of the WOY award? (Note: Harry Potter has won the WOY award for 17 of the last 20 years (Note: Gandalf won it the other three years))
Let's start with Monday, September 29. Don't remember what happened that day? Well if you're listening to Serial, you'd know that that's pretty normal, and that Adnan Syed probably doesn't know what happened on the day either. But it was the day the Kansas City Chiefs blew out the Patriots to the palindromic tune of 41-14.
For those 60 minutes, the Patriots were the worst team in the NFL. They produced 60 minutes of shit-in-the-bed, cruciatis-cast-upon-Pats-fans, Tom-Brady-doubt-worthy football.
The offensive line play was offensive; Jimmy Garoppolo looked better than Brady; the Chiefs had a legitimate offense. Everything was backwards. As a result, the word "fuck" was reportedly mispronounced "fahk" a record number of times that night in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and some parts of Canada (but in Canada it was "fahk, eh?").
Boston media had every reason to criticize the world's greatest wizard Belichick and his protégée Brady. Yet the Patriots have changed considerably since that clusterfuck in September. That progression makes his candidacy a shoe-in for WOY. It was comparable to when everyone questioned Gandalf for deciding to give the ring to Frodo and Sam -- I mean, you're sitting at a round table of middle earth's fiercest warriors and you pick a handful of 3-foot-nothing hobbits. You had a motherfucker that could walk on snow, the king of men, and one of the last living dwarfs. In lieu of the Logan Mankins trade and other questionable decisions, that is what Belichick's decision making was like. Those sneaky wizards -- it worked.
Things got better despite set backs. The Patriots won two games following that graveyard scene of a Monday night game. But during those games, they lost Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley. Mayo was the Brady of their defense -- he called the plays, coordinated the pre-snap looks and coached the young, talented linebacking corps. Down went Ridley, too. Running backs are a dime a dozen, but Ridley held onto the football (0 fumbles in 2014), showed up to practice on time and -- to our knowledge -- didn't posses pot. He is a thumper with commendable patience and impressive burst.
Belichick had begun his wizarding charms. He was rebuilding the offensive line, and through those six games, nine offensive linemen had played 80 snaps or more -- that's unheard of. It wasn't pretty, yet the Patriots were 6-2, and the offensive line was about to set like concrete. Over the course of the next five games against the Jets, Bears, Broncos, Colts and vaunted Lions, the offensive line allowed three sacks. Tom Brady looked cool as a cucumber, no longer pickled in the pocket.
The likes of Jonas Gray and LeGarrette Blount, who are cast-offs (Gray was an undrafted free agent) and afterthoughts (Blount left the Steelers because he never got the ball), ran rampant behind the offensive line. And while it seemed like Brady was just flailing around, he was actually taking time off (mentally/imaginarily) at a surgical conference. He has returned from that (mental/imaginary) surgical conference with the ability to dexterously dissect defenses. It's almost like Belichick brewed some potent liquid luck.
Meanwhile, no one was talking about Jimmy Garoppolo.
Belichick even cast the imperious curse upon a referee so that he'd slap Dont'a Hightower on the butt, which "decided the game" in the Patriots-Jets, week 7 matchup.
The defense -- which was composed in the offseason when Belichick said, "acccio cornerbacks," and got Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner -- transformed into a unit with the power of a Hungarian Horntail. Despite the hip injury to Chandler Jones, the Patriots are ranked 12th in points allowed per game (20.6) and the sixth in takeaways (20). With some help from Belichick's expelliarmus spell, they've disarmed two of the league's best quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck by holding them to 21 and 20 points, respectively. Standout players like Logan Ryan, who picked off Matthew Stafford in week 11 and had five interceptions last year as a rookie, are backups and rarely see the field. Starters like Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty are the anti-Megatron.
And we haven't even gotten to the linebackers. Dont'a Hightower is the league's most underrated linebacker, who can do drop into coverage, attack the ball in the backfield, and rush the passer. The irony is that he does so much that he's not racking up stats in any one category. Thus, he's not getting the credit he deserves. Jamie Collins has established himself as a unique talent that can cover running backs and -- more importantly -- elite tight ends.
The position group that shows the true power of Belichick's magic is the tight ends. Rob Gronkowski is the comeback player of the year, and deserves enormous credit for the injures that he's overcome (back, knee, elbow). Ask RG3 how hard it can be. And Tim Wright is catching touchdowns on 26 percent of his receptions. The only explanation: Magic.
The one issue some might take with Belichick's candidacy is his inability to control the NFL's official. Alas Dominic Raiola remains unscathed from punishment -- rat bastard.
So how do you explain the dramatic turnaround of the offensive line? The ability to replace important, injured players with backups? The ability to sign offseason acquisition that bolster the defense? The ability to never, ever smile? Belichick magic.
He is the puppet master behind it all, pulling the strings. While the game on September 29 was one of the most disastrous games in recent Patriots' memory, the WOY of the candidate has changed everything. Bruce Arians may deserve the less important Coach of the Year award. But master of wizardry -- particularly the dark arts -- Bill Belichick is the Wizard of the Year.
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