By HCR Staff | April 16, 2020
As soon as Tom Brady announced he was leaving the AFC East, the fan bases of the Dolphins, Jets and the Bills found cause for celebration. And why not? Their 20 years in the shadow of the Patriots was miserable.
Their celebrations, however, have unwittingly given rise to an opponent their head coaches will find even more formidable than Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick.
And that opponent is the burden of expectations.
Suddenly, owners Terry Pegula, Woody Johnson and Steve Ross will think – and rightfully so – why shouldn’t we unseat the Patriots as AFC East champs?
Up until this point, a second place finish to the Patriots by Brian Flores, Adam Gase or Sean McDermott was construed as an effective 1st place finish – basically, every fan and commentator, for 20 years, would write in the Pats as AFC East champs, so the only expectation on the rest of the division was for who could be ‘first of the worst?’
Now, that’s not going to be good enough. Flores, Gase and McDermott will have more work on their plate this year because they’re going to have to spend time deflecting media questions that address new possibilities, and expectations.
That late season W by Flores over the Patriots last season? That was celebrated by the Dolphins like a playoff win. That’s not going to fly this year – it’s going to be expected.
The competitive home loss by the Bills to the Patriots last year that McDermott was lauded for? That equation is different now; a home loss this year and McDermott’s going to get the evil eye from every fan. Bills Mafia will turn in a hurry.
Every head coach likes being an underdog because there’s an absence of expectations. They call it the ‘burden’ of expectations for a reason…because it feels damn heavy. You win, well, we expected it – you didn’t do anything special. You lose? You’re incompetent.
To make matters worse, Flores, Gase and McDermott know the Patriots locker room still has some proud veterans, and more importantly, proud veteran coaches. Those players and coaches are going to have super bounces in their step this season because for the first time in a long time, they kissed the burden of expectations goodbye.
Expectations. It’s the enemy of coaches everywhere. And in the AFC East this year, it’ll be all over the joint in New York, Miami and Buffalo.