Ryan Clark isn’t expecting to see a 12th consecutive division title heading to Foxboro this season.
The AFC East is more up grabs in 2020 than it has been in over a decade. The Patriots, who struggled mightily throughout the second half of last season, seemingly didn’t improve this offseason, while New England’s three division rivals all made multiple significant upgrades.
Clark seems to believe a below-average offense will doom the Patriots this season. Furthermore, he thinks the significance of Tom Brady’s departure cannot be stressed enough.
“…When you look at the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots, they both play great defense,” Clark said Tuesday on ESPN’s “Get Up.” “But down the stretch, the New England Patriots’ defense began to falter and we saw some different things when they played teams that actually had good football players on the offensive side of the football. So I think we saw some cracks in that defense, which is why they still tried to address it in the draft and they didn’t get better on the outside. Many people thought the reason Tom Brady’s game regressed last year was because he didn’t have the weapons. Well, they didn’t improve out there.
“You lose the greatest quarterback of all time. I don’t think you can ever underestimate what it is to have the greatest quarterback of all time on your team and for you to be able to coach him hard. For that to be the example you set of the Patriot Way and then he goes out and performs. You no longer have that. Now, this is going to be Bill Belichick’s greatest coaching challenge of his career with Jarrett Stidham and this new-look, 2020 New England Patriots team. I just don’t think they’re good enough to win the East.”
In the confines of their own building, the Bills very well might believe they’re the new top dog in the division. But they’re not going to give the Patriots any bulletin-board material, as both their head coach and general manager have insisted New England still is the team to beat in the AFC East.