Haven’t we learned anything from the Patriots? Or at least from Star Wars? The Evil Empire can reinvent itself as long as coach/general manager Bill Belichick, a master motivator and brilliant schemer, is still around pulling all the strings like Emperor Palpatine.MORE: Where will Tom Brady play in 2020?Of course, what we know as the Patriots’ version of the Empire might be finished. The greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, is coming off a season of decline at age 42. He wants to keep playing and leading a team to big things in 2020, but there’s a growing chance that team won’t be the Patriots.But we also know when the Empire dies, there’s always room for a First Order to rise. In the case of Belichick’s Patriots, that means doing what they’ve always done with Brady at a necessary higher level of evil — surviving, adapting and adjusting to stay one step ahead of the rest of the league. The Patriots’ NFL playoff run in 2020 was finished as soon as it began. Once 8-0 and looking unstoppable, New England dropped to 12-4 and the AFC’s No. 3 seed before it was promptly eliminated by Tennessee in Saturday’s 20-13 wild-card loss.So the Patriots are no longer alive in the postseason, and their latest chance at repeating as Super Bowl champions is dead. Before they lost to the Titans, everyone was ready to dance on their grave to fit the convenient narrative that their six-ring dynasty will no longer be breathing. The Patriots have had their share of Death Stars blow up, including Spygate and Deflategate. They have been gutted with mass departures before. They are facing more fallout from Spygate 2, Bengate, Bengalhazi or whatever they’re calling this Cincinnati videotaping thing. They’ll simply try to blast the league more with Star Destroyers instead of archaic battle stations. (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/a6/98/bill-belichick-010520-getty-ftrjpg_t4wvmaqdwsy1193m9mlmv9qr5.jpg?t=1952203527&w=500&quality=80 In addition to Brady, Belichick could move on from or lose a few key players from his critical linebacker corps. There’s a real chance, after losing assistants Matt Patricia and Brian Flores to head-coaching jobs in consecutive years, that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels once again will follow suit.This time, Belichick might need to go through personnel and staff changes he has never before endured. Then again, when the Patriots were winning their first three Super Bowls, they were doing it with completely different coordinators and players around Brady.The NFL is typically cyclical for contention. The Patriots have defied that trend by consistently staying on top for so long, a stretch in modern American pro team sports that may never be duplicated. Having Brady excel year after year has been a big part of that. But so has been Belichick’s ability to keep finding the kind of role players to “do their jobs” at every other position.MORE: Brady-led Pats will leave complicated legacyFans of the Ravens, Chiefs and Texans, three teams that beat the Patriots late in the regular season to derail New England’s playoff hopes, might be first in line to pay their last respects. They hope to become the new Colts, Steelers and Broncos, the three AFC teams that most interrupted and thought they ended the Patriots’ run of rings.But those teams can relate to the challenges Belichick faces. The Ravens flipped to become a different kind of contender under John Harbaugh, with Lamar Jackson’s team not resembling the one of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Joe Flacco. Andy Reid, who got his Eagles to the Super Bowl against the Patriots, has found his new muse with the Chiefs in Patrick Mahomes. The Texans had their playoff moments with a Matt Schaub-led offense and are now carried by Deshaun Watson.There’s no indication that Belichick, 67, plans to hang up his hoodie anytime soon. He loves coaching and competition too much. He embraces challenges and will work even harder to prove his immense, unprecedented coaching success is not solely tied to Brady. (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/8d/cb/belichick-brady-121019-getty-ftrjpg_1do8mq0byxei11sijywa5mihnw.jpg?t=-252177842&w=500&quality=80 In the 100-year history of the NFL, few teams have dominated as much as these Patriots. That success naturally has led to more people wanting to bury them than caring to praise them. Beyond the perception of cheating the system in some form, part of the former is the fact that the Patriots can be, well, a bit Belichickian boring.Don’t expect the Patriots to conveniently roll over and die. Save the eulogies until the Emperor has vanished. Because this Patriot Way may not go away as fast as you would like.It’s more likely to find a new way to compete for a ring that makes us all hate and appreciate Belichick at a new level.