ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer drew a lot of attention with his scathing criticism of the New England Patriots following their Week 4 blowout loss to Kansas City, saying the Patriots were a "weak team" and, most notably, were "not good anymore."
He was seemingly declaring the end of an era for the Patriots as a dominant force in the AFC.
Five weeks later, after the Patriots throttled the conference-leading Broncos to win their fifth straight game following that loss to the Chiefs, Dilfer was singing a different tune in an interview with ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd.
"I made the mistake I hate making in this job, and that’s knee-jerk reacting to what you see in real time and not thinking about who you are saying it about," Dilfer said Monday in backpedaling from his comments following that Kansas City game. "What I forgot at the moment, and what I think anybody who wrote the Patriots off early forgot, is what Bill Belichick has done over his career: getting the most from the least and the best from the best. And let’s not forget, that’s what coaching is. So at its core, being a great coach is getting the most from the least and the best from the best.
"He’s always been able to do it, but you couldn’t understand anybody’s name on offense [earlier this season]. [Rob Gronkowski] looked like an old man running around injured. They couldn’t protect Tom [Brady]. Defensively, they were OK. You just couldn’t do the math on how they could be any good.
"But what I forgot, and what others forgot, is that this is a developmental league. And early in the season, there’s so much hype in the offseason on who’s gonna be good, who the stars are, what teams are gonna do, that early in the year you knee-jerk react when you don’t see it come to fruition. And you forget these guys don’t get a ton of time together in the offseason like they used to.
"So what football has become in the NFL is how you develop your roster and how you develop stars. You become a king maker as a head coach, especially if you have some pieces like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and others to build around.
"I’m just blown away. I was truly blown away last night [by the Patriots’ performance against the Broncos]. I heard what you said this morning about Peyton and control, and I agree with that. But by saying that, you’re taking something away from the Patriots and how well they played and how they were able to defend Peyton Manning and lock down the perimeter guys and stop the run with light boxes.
"Offensively [the Patriots are] just a machine. They’re playing at a high tempo, with multiple personnel groupings, multiple formations. You can’t get a bead on what they’re doing. Tom’s just dealing versus man coverage, hitting guys between the numbers. Against zone they’re getting guys wide open. It was really, really awesome to watch the Patriots."