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Stephen A. Smith's Reaction to the Idea the Patriots Might Finish Last in the AFC East is Peak Stephen A.

Marcus Spears opens this video with a good two minutes or so of exactly the sort of Molten Lava Take that ESPN's Sports Shouting programs have been known for when it comes to the AFC East for the last 15 years or so. 

The Patriots are in decline. The teams around them have improved. HC Bill is great and all, but he's gotten no hope from GM Bill. They haven't drafted well. You can't win without talent, and they don't have it any more

And on and on and on, right from the template they've been following forever. Swap out a name or two, work in a reference to how Tom Brady isn't getting any younger, and this could be a clip from the pre-Obama years. 

That's not a knock on Marcus Spears. He's a good enough analyst. He's doing his job. Hell, he might even believe the Jets are ready to pass the Patriots in some deep, dark recess of his being. Regardless, he's following the script that the World Wide Leader has been operating with since the time Tom Jackson said "They hate their coach" and months later a triumphant Belichick told him "Go fuck yourself." 


But get to that 2:15 mark, where Stephen A. Smith reaches the limits of his patience, and you clearly see why he's swinging the biggest paycheck in Bristol. Why he's Cock o' the Walk. If you don't have time to watch exactly how he accuses Spears of being high for daring to suggest the Pats might finish behind the J-E-T-S, let me give it to you in compilation form:

After decades of listening to the nonstop drivel from master-level imbeciles like Skip Bayless and Max "Cliff" Kellerman, dousing the flames of this hot take is child's play for a man of Stephen A.'s skills and experience. He goes right to playing all the classic hits. Fireman Ed quitting. Some guy Jeff he knows in California who's ready to hide his Jets jersey. Zach Wilson's numbers. Using the same utter contempt in his voice he's reserved in the past for Rex Ryan and Adam Gase. "DEAD LAST in points allowed! DEAD LAST in yards allowed! Bottom 3 against the pass AND the damn rush!" He's like a great vocalist going on an improvised run. A Sinatra or a Stevie Wonder, using his voice like a finely tuned instrument. And to quote Steely Dan, "Every word he sang, I knew was true." 

I love it. Lord help me, how I love it so. This is just one small sampling, but it's an indication of what's to come. Like we've been hearing now since today's voting age adults were still in diapers, this yet another in an endless string of seasons where the Patriots Dynasty is over. They said it when Chad Pennington was with the Jets. They said it when Chad Pennington was with the Dolphins. They're saying it now. It's like the bounce back year of 2021 never happened. Like they didn't make the playoffs with double digit wins, the No. 2 scoring defense and the No. 4 defense in yards allowed. Like they didn't develop the best rookie QB in the league and add DeVante Parker and a 4.2 rookie in Tyquan Thornton to their WR depth chart. And once again, for the 22nd time in 23 years, Belichick and his entire staff have forgotten how to coach tackle football. 

Absolutely they've got a lot to clean up between now and the two times they face Buffalo late in the season. No one is under any delusions of that. But this doubt is exactly how I know this franchise continues back on the path to their manifest destiny of being the dominant team in the division once again. And I, along with Stephen A., welcome the chance to laugh in the face of anyone who says they've only gotten worse.