The New England Patriots have won their third Super Bowl in four years, and because the NFL is a copycat league, that means that the rest of the league is now envious, right? Not so fast. If you look at the playoff game stats, you can see the Patriots ran the ball nearly twice as much as the Cincinnati Bengals did, and they were successful with it. (Cincinnati was No. 16 in the league in total rushing yards this season, so you can add that stat to the argument that the Patriots, and not the Bengals, had the better offense.)

The New England Patriots are a juggernaut of a team, the best of all time, and they have the best quarterback in the history of the game. They are known for being the first in the NFL to use the no-huddle offense, building around their star quarterback, and they have a penchant for winning games in the fourth quarter. They are also known for having a very specific and efficient offensive philosophy that is focused on winning championships, and not necessarily on setting records.

Bill Belichick apparently didn’t think the New England Patriots needed to retain Tom Brady to be successful. Because why would he let a legendary quarterback walk? If calling up Cam Newton last season didn’t yield positive results, Belichick might have better luck with a signal-caller compared to TB12. But does Mac Jones also have to be a perennial Pro Bowler to be a good fit for the Patriots? Belichick is apparently willing to settle for a significantly lower amount. And while the idea of building a team around Andy Dalton doesn’t sound particularly exciting, Patriots fans shouldn’t be discouraged about the future. If Jones follows his current path, he will reach greater heights than Dalton.

Andy Dalton’s pick actually worked out well for the Bengals

. Dalton deserves much more credit than he usually gets for his career with the Cincinnati Bengals. Did he do his job during the playoffs? Never. Did it bring stability to a sector that desperately needed it? Without a doubt. Following his selection in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Dalton immediately took over the role of starting quarterback with the Bengals. With the rookie center, Cincinnati went 9-7 and made the playoffs for the third time in 21 years. Dalton’s consistent play has helped the Bengals reach the postseason in each of his first five years with the team. Incredibly, the same club that last won by double digits in 1975-76 has won at least 10 games every season in 2012-15. Much to the chagrin of Bengals fans, the team has failed to maintain long-term success. Still, it’s unfair to call Dalton an underdog given his numbers (70-61-2, 31,594 passing yards, 204 touchdowns), three Pro Bowl selections and overall impact on and off the field in Cincinnati.

Bill Belichick apparently has no problem building a team around a quarterback of Dalton’s caliber

Does Belichick need a star defender to win football games? Some argue it does, based on the Patriots’ performance in 2020 without Brady. We also can’t ignore the fact that the only time New England lost the championship under Belichick was in 2000 – the year before Brady replaced the injured Drew Bledsoe. However, the 69-year-old coach doesn’t seem to think he needs an elite quarterback to compete for a Super Bowl title. From the way NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport described the Patriots’ thought process for selecting Jones, it seems Belichick would have no problem building a team around Dalton. I know Mac was somebody that Bill Belichick was interested in, that the Patriots were interested in. I know they appreciated it, Rapoport said Wednesday during an appearance on Greg Hill’s show on WEEI 93.7 FM. I know that at worst they see Andy Dalton as a kind of low point, that Andy Dalton was the starter who led his team to the playoffs for five years. Say what you will, but for a while he was an above average quarterback. It wasn’t for him that they were going to jump. The Patriots didn’t acquire Jones, but that doesn’t change the fact that Belichick made history by selecting a quarterback in the first round for the first time in his career. He wouldn’t have made such a decision if he didn’t think the former Alabama star had the potential to become a long-term mainstay in Foxborough. If New England’s worst-case scenario with Jones is that he becomes the next Dalton, Belichick clearly thinks he can still win with such a quarterback.

Patriots should be a solid Super Bowl contender if Mack Jones maxes out

word-image-10215 word-image-10216 New England Patriots quarterback Mack Jones throws the ball as coach Bill Belichick walks past the players warming up. | Kathryn Riley/Getty Images Perhaps the most ironic part of this situation is that the Patriots could have contracted Dalton last season. If Belichick had gone that route, it remains to be seen if New England would have made the playoffs. Finally, Dalton’s skill set fits well into Josh McDaniels’ system. But maybe Belichick didn’t see the point in contracting a player who went the wrong way in the final years of his Cincinnati career. Fortunately for Patriots fans, the team has finally invested in a valuable asset to bolster its premier position in the sport. After his selection in the first round, Jones has high hopes of becoming Brady’s permanent backup. At the same time, his status in the draft reflects his overall talent level and pro potential. So even if Belichick settles for Dalton, don’t expect Jones to have a career like that. His intelligence, accuracy and fearlessness in the pocket make him an ideal partner for New England’s offense. He also seems to have the right attitude and aptitude to handle the pressure of playing under Belichick. If Jones peaks, the rest of the AFC will see another long run of Patriots dominance. And even if Belichick picks Andy Dalton 2.0, that would still be a big improvement over Cam Newton. COMPARED TO: Bill Belichick is officially dealing with his own situation with Aaron Rodgers

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