by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
September 14, 2009
The banner at the top of NFL.com on Sunday morning read, “You’ve waited eight months for this.”
Eight months and a day for us, I guess. Some final thoughts as the Pats’ 2009 season finally arrives…
- So, Boston Patriots, huh? It’s nostalgic, sure, but as I recall it, the City of Boston had one hand out while flipping the bird with the other when it came to “the Boston Patriots”. So screw that. It’s the New England Patriots.
- The book on Richard Seymour is closed, apparently, with the late night press conference on Saturday. I’m happy the Pats will get that first round pick with no further trouble, but I’m still caught a little short over seeing the end of times for Seymour in New England. It’s probably just the aforementioned nostalgia; it’s certainly not that I buy the talk radio shtick that they’ll come up just short without him. That’s a ridiculous, hysterical assumption to make before they’ve even played a down.
- I suppose he won’t be at tonight’s introduction of the 50th Anniversary team then. I’m assuming those of us watching at home will get a glimpse of ESPN’s own Tedy Bruschi as he returns to the Gillette Stadium field for the first time since his retirement.
- That DIRECTV free Sunday Ticket promotion was intense. I’ve always wanted it though I never pulled the trigger, but after yesterday, I’m okay with not having it. I can’t watch eight fucking games at once. I ended up missing them all. I would have been better off sticking with the new Red Zone channel, which I would promote further if I could understand it. Can I get this channel or not?
- Here is what I did see: both the Dolphins and the Jets seem to have very active, physical front sevens, and they both generate a pretty noticeable pass rush. Now, they’re going to have to back it up downfield, but it was evident to me that the Pats will have some formidable fronts to game plan for. Two words: that sucks.
- I’m all in on Mark Sanchez. First, he throws the shit out of the ball. Second, very nimble in the pocket. He’s no runner; rather, he’s true to the pocket and moves to stay with it. Third, the basic fundamentals – so far, the ball fakes are all carried out with focus (believe me, there are “franchise quarterbacks” who don’t see this as part of the job requirements). He’s got the presence and competitiveness. He’s undoubtedly going to look like a bum against somebody (hopefully soon) but in the long run there’s no way he isn’t a top quarterback in the league.
- I’m happy to report that the Dolphins offense seems to be comprised entirely of a series of trick plays that may or may not contain a live chicken. They didn’t come across as exactly confident in their ability to score. And this was against the Falcons!
- So tonight, we see the rest of the AFC East. I’ve got the typical opening day jitters – as the day goes along, I’ll grow ever more concerned about Lee Evans, Terrell (friend Al suggests “there is no team in me” for a nickname) Owens, even Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish. This is a pretty nice group of receivers for a team that couldn’t get through camp without firing their offensive coordinator.
- I’m just saying – until we see an improved Pats rush playing in concert with the rehabbed secondary, we won’t know if New England can stop the pass any better than they did last year. I suspect most eyes will be on the comebacking Tom Brady and the Pats offense tonight (speaking of concerned – if they’re going to run any of those slip screens to the edge to knock the pass rush back and set up second and shorts, Welker and Edelman will be needed), but I’d argue the best barometer for this game – and the ones ahead – will be whether New England defense can get off the field consistently. Even with Buffalo’s variant of the no-huddle, which will make precise substitutions a challenge, this is an opponent that is (to be charitable) struggling mightily on offense, especially along the offensive line. The last thing we want is for them to be made suddenly respectable by what is supposed to be (what needs to be) a revitalized defense. There’s a real chance here for the Pats D to build some momentum – but they have to close the deal.
- Also – nice matchup for new special teams coach Scott O’Brien, drawing Bobby April for his first game. I’m thinking if O’Brien and New England can win the field position battle here, it will be a big leg up for a defense that may need it.
- Hey, ESPNBoston has launched. And right here are the first blog entries by our pal Mike Reiss.
E-mail Scott Benson at email@example.com