By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
It never fails. Every year, someone wants to be the first one to correctly predict the demise of Tom Brady and the Patriots' dynasty. Never mind that the take has lost all its value now that the Pats have won three out of the last five Super Bowls.
ESPN's Todd McShay raised his hand first this year. The noted draft analyst became the first to regurgitate the annual narrative in an appearance on "First Take". Even Stephen A. Smith was skeptical of what McShay was trying to sell. But McShay stuck his neck out there, officially kicking off the 2019 Patriots Doubt Tour.
"They're gonna win the AFC East, I believe that. But for the first time ever, I watched Tom Brady toward the end of last season and started to see a little bit of a decline. That's the first time ever," McShay said. "He threw five picks against the Chiefs years ago and everyone's like, 'It's over'. And that was a joke. And a few years ago, everyone's like 'Ahh the run is done'. But [Rob] Gronkowski ... was the guy for Brady.
"Brady has started to decline a little bit. When you look at the numbers, they're still really good and most teams would love to have it. But I see a little bit of a decline in him. And they lost Trey Flowers - they lost a lot of really good players in the offseason. So for the first time ever, I look at this Patriots team and say, I don't expect them to win the Super Bowl. And I don't expect them to get to the Super Bowl. And that's the first time I've thought that in many years."
It's not that McShay is completely wrong about everything he said. Brady certainly had a statistical decline, if not a drop from what your eyeballs are used to seeing. But Rob Gronkowski had a much sharper decline than Brady, along with the Patriots offense as a whole amid a lack of firepower relative to prior seasons. The 2019 Patriots offense could ultimately prove whatever the real problem was in 2018.
But declaring last season the beginning of the end for the Patriots' run, as it has been for nearly two decades, is a risky proposition. especially when they continue to take shots on finding Brady's successor, the latest candidate being Jarrett Stidham.
At the very least, McShay is going to be a target of angry Patriots fans on social media for perhaps the entire 2019 season. And if the Pats end up winning a seventh Super Bowl - heck, if they get there again - McShay is going to have to shut off the Twitter for a while.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].