by Brendon Rosenau, Patriots Daily Staff
It’s 1993 and the Patriots finished the season with a losing record (5-11) for the fifth straight year. Certainly, plenty had changed since the last time we saw the New England Patriots. Since the team reached the playoffs in 1986, an era of unprecedented (in New England) futility and ugliness flooded the team with the ferociousness of opposing defenses sacking Hugh Millen. As an article in Sports Illustrated that season stated;
“Toiling anonymously in pro football’s Siberia, Bledsoe…”
However, doom and gloom is not what we are about here at Patriots Daily. 1993 may not seem like a remarkable year, but a strong case can be made that it placed a hard kick in the butt of the sorry franchise and started them on the path to glory.
1993 would be the year of the Tuna as Bill Parcells began his four year stint with the team. Parcells first move may have been his greatest as he used the #1 draft pick to select Drew Bledsoe out of Washington State. Who can forget the endless debate of Bledsoe or Notre Dame golden boy Rick Mirer? Parcells made the right call and also made some other quality moves in the draft. He tabbed linebacker Chris Slade and wide receiver Vincent Brisby in the second round and a wideout by the name of Troy Brown in the eighth round.
As far as the season went, Bledsoe’s rookie year was rocky at times but he was 5-7 as a starter and by the end of the year showed the arm that would excite, and sometimes frustrate New England fans for years to come. He missed four games in the middle of the season with an injury and the team sputtered to a 1-11 record before ending the season with four straight wins. The Pats got on the winning side of the ledger with a riveting 7-2 win over Cincinnati in a battle of 1-11 teams. After wins over Cleveland and Indianapolis, Bledsoe turned in the finest effort of his young career with his first career 300 yard passing game in a 33-27 win over Miami. Bledsoe finished the game with 329 yards and 4 touchdowns.
What are your memories of that year? I remember the great play of linebackers Vincent Brown and Chris Slade and the outstanding production of my main man Ben “Winter” Coates.
- Drew Bledsoe 2494 yards, 15 TD (T-10th NFL)
- Leonard Russell 300 carries (2nd) 1,088 yards (6th), 7 TD (T-9th)
- Ben Coates 53 catches-659 yards, 8TD (T-7th),
- Vincent Brisby 45 catches -626 yards
- Michael Timpson 654 yards
- Vincent Brown 158 tackles
- Chris Slade 9.5 sacks
- Andre Tippett 8.5 sacks
- Maurice Hurst 4 INT,
Vincent Brown (LILB),
Kevin Turner’s lateral to Russell in Phoenix always sticks out in my mind. This was just the type of game the Pats were used to losing, but a goofy play brought them the win (Parcells’ first, I was reminded): http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=886&dat=19931011&id=YyYOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=nn0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6627,1434066
I loved this team and appreciated it more than normal because I was convinced Orthwein was going to steer the team to St. Louis by 1994. This was also the last season where there were any blackouts, including that last game at home against Miami.
I recall them starting 1-11 but they never seemed truly horrible; they got blown out by Buffalo in the opener and by the Jets but they lost a lot of close games along the way. OT loss to Detroit; a 6-0 loss in a monsoon in Foxboro; a loss to Seattle where a 54 yard FG attempt by Scott Sisson hit the crossbar at the end of the game. Sisson was really bad and missed a FG in every game that he attempted at least one. There was a faux controversy when a fan had a “Missin’ Sisson” banner taken away at a home game against Cincinnati.
I attended that game against the Bengals and I have no idea how I convinced my father to take me to that one. There were only about 30,000 there so we got seats on the 35 yard line. The Bengals and Pats were each 1-11 coming in and it was about 30 degrees so the metal benches in Foxboro were not helpful. Final score? 7-2! What are the odds? Then the Patriots won out, knocking Miami out of the playoffs in OT on the last day.
So glad that Kraft didn’t take the money to let Orthwein break the lease. And kudos to Orthwein-a guy who had the Clydesdales on the field during halftime-for selling to Kraft.
My memory of the year was buying season tickets. After Parcells got hired, a friend called and said we should get some other guys together and buy 6 season tickets. Back then, that was a radical (and silly) idea. But I went for it and after some begging and pleading we got together a group and bought some tickets. There were some rough times, to be sure – man, those Sullivan Stadium aluminum benches were cold on the ass! But it’s all been worth it.
What sticks in my mind the most, really, was the ’93 draft. For weeks I argued with anyone within earshot that the Patriots simply had to take Bledsoe over Mirer–not because I knew that much about Bledsoe beyond watching him shred a very good Washington Huskies defense in a snowstorm during his senior year at Wazzu, but because I knew that Mirer was a loser from watching him play at Notre Dame. The Irish lost more games during his three years as QB than during any other three-year period under Lou Holtz (that is, before the program began to collapse in the mid-90s and Holtz ended up resigning).
During his senior season, Mirer also gave one of the scariest interviews I’ve ever seen a college player give–scary if you were an NFL general manager holding a Top 5 pick in the ’93 draft that is.
The Irish already had a loss and a tie that year and were out of the national championship picture. After blowing out a bad Pitt team on NBC TV, Mirer was asked by the interviewer if he was playing better now that the pressure to win a national championship was “off” due to the two blemishes on ND’s record. Incredibly, Mirer answered, “Oh defnitely. I feel a lot more comfortable now that the national title is no longer possibility”—I’m paraphrasing but that was the tenor of his response. I was flabbergasted, and I don’t see how any GM who saw that interview could even think of wasting a high draft pick on a QB who basically comes out and says he can’t handle pressure very well.
When the Pats took Bledsoe over Mirer I was more relieved than anything else.
I also remember thinking that the win over Miami in the final week of the season, which knocked the Dolphins out of a playoff spot, was going to be the last game ever played by the “New England” Patriots. Thankfully, it wasn’t.
All great points made by the commenters, but don’t forget that 1993 also marked the retirement of Pat Patriot and the introduction of the Flying Elvis. The team swapped their red home unis for blue, and I can’t forget how much Gil Santos struggled on the radio calls that year because some idiot designer decided it was a good idea to put red numbers on the backs of those blue jerseys, making them almost impossible for any broadcaster to see.
horrible uniforms this year, still weren’t the worst of the many changes to the Blues
This was my second year with season tickets. I remember the (3rd?) pre-season game against the Packers and Parcells had Bledsoe play the whole game (unheard of!) and he was firing it all over the yard, and in the stadium it was incredible how everyone couldn’t believe we actually had a QB. He threw a late TD (albeit against scrubs) for the win. Never been more satisfied with a pre-season game before or since.
I also remember the 7-2 Bengals game very well… but for a different reason. Back then, I bet on the games and I had the Pats giving 6. They were wining 7-0 the whole game and then late in the 4th, Parcelss pulls the old ‘intentional safety’ trick with the punter. So, to recap, it was freezing, the teams sucked and I lost $50 on an intentional safety. Good times!
I’m very late to this discussion. I stumbled upon it after reading the Tuna’s interview with Dale and Holley on WEEI. He said the GM his first year and a half had no football background. I thought Parcells ran the show until Kraft bought the team. Anyone have any idea who he was talking about? It wasn’t Bobby Grier. He had a lengthier pedigree than Bill.
My best memory of 93 was being in the stands after we knocked the Dolphins out of the playoffs and everybody that stayed to the end chanting “we won’t go!” and refusing to leave. We all thought it was the last game the Patriots would play in New England as it was widely expected Orthwein would move the team to St Louis over the winter.
The young fans who have only known the success of the Kraft era have no clue how close we came to losing our team, or how bad things were in the late 80s/early 90s.