You either love them or hate them. You know what else? They don't need no stinkin' succession plan. The Patriots are betting the season that their organizational culture is stronger than the need for a succession plan.
If you aren't grooved into sports or the NFL, stay dialed in. There's something for you here.
Here's the scoop. The Patriots are the Yankees of the NFL, the team most love to hate. They've
got had Tom Brady, the golden boy. They've got the genuis, Bill Belichick, as coach. They win. You hate them. Rinse and Repeat.
But, there's a big difference between the Patriots and other teams in the NFL. It's called "culture". They keep the employees engaged. They bring veterans in at the end of their careers and get them to bend their games for the good of the team. They take malcontents like Randy Moss (personal brand before joining the Patriots was the catchphrase, "straight cash homie"), embed them in the culture, and the next week they sound like a studio analyst at Fox Sports, towing the company line.
They wear shirts around the practice facility that say "Humble Pie", a hat tip to the culture of Belichick that no matter how many points you win by, you're going to get a spirited critique of your invidividual performance the day after the game. Can you see
Chad Johnson Ocho Cinco wearing that t-shirt?
In case you missed it, Tom Brady, league MVP and quarterback for the Patriots, went down with a knee injury in the first quarter of week one in the NFL season. 15 weeks to go. The Patriots have never carried a strong #2 quarterback to back Brady up, instead opting to go with the unknown and unproven Matt Cassell (who didn't start in college at USC) the past couple of years.
So the Patriots are betting their season that they can close ranks, rally 'round the family, and get it done without a star quarterback. Some claim they weren't prepared, because they didn't have a viable succession plan in place should something happen to Tom Brady.
The Patriots have a succession plan. It's called CULTURE. They're betting they didn't need a backup quarterback who had started elsewhere or even in college. They think they can take some good skills, expose the kid (Cassell) to a few years of their system, then when he's needed, provide him with the game plan and team support he'll need to be successful.
It'll be interesting to see if the Patriots' bet on the strength of their culture pays off the rest of the season, and if they can stay competitive.
Of course, much of the Patriots system and focus on culture was created back in 2001, when star quarterback Drew Bledsoe went down, and a young quarterback took New England to a Superbowl victory against the "greatest show on turf" - the Rams. As a Missouri guy and a Rams fan, I can still remember the sinking feeling in my stomach when the Patriots came out after the Rams offense was introduced...as a team...
That young quarterback leading them out of the tunnel? A 6th round draft choice pictured below named.... Wait for it.....
Tom Brady.... The Patriots bet on culture back in 2001. It turned into the Tom Brady era....
UPDATE - More thoughts on the Patriots and your succession plan from Lance over at Your HR Guy...