Patriots are masters at planning ahead

Originally Published: October 6, 2004
By Randy Mueller | ESPN Insider
We all know who the great teams of the past were. The Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, Bill Walsh's 49ers of the '80s and the Dallas Cowboys of the '90s.

But in 1993 the game changed. Player movement, free agency and the salary cap became terms most of us thought would never be part of the NFL landscape. It was said that no longer would we see the dynasties of the past. Teams would win, but then have to be torn down because of the salary cap. No longer could a team keep all of its assets.

To borrow a phrase from someone in the ESPN family, "not so fast my friend." With the New England Patriots on the verge of setting the all-time record for consecutive victories, let's take a deeper look at what has made them the exception to the rule and really the first team to approach the tag of dynasty in the last 10 years.