A guest column from George Cain
Like many Patriots fans, I’m still in shock over what happened to the New England Patriots on Sunday evening. Desparate for answers and comfort, I have turned to something many people do during a crisis – group therapy.
Unfortunately, the Boston Media is not the place to go for that therapy. Ironically, the Big Show and Ron Borges who I have criticized the last couple years, seem to be the only people offering sane responses.
Dennis & Callahan, Andy Hart, Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, Andy Gresh, Gary Tanguay…wow are you kidding me? To quote Gru from “Despicable Me” who said, “this is garbage, you actually like this?”
Top 5 stupid analyses I have heard since the debacle.
- The Welker benching changed the tone of game. (Dennis & Callahan)
- The Patriots are too business-like and that doesn’t work in the postseason. (Andy Hart)
- Rex Ryan’s rah, rah style works better. (Numerous sources)
- Bill Belichick has lost his mojo. (Numerous sources.)
- The Patriots aren’t built to win a championship. (Michael Felger)
The last one might be the only one with a hint of truth to it.
Let me dispel a few myths.
The Welker benching! – So that caused Tom Brady to be confused and the Patriots to allow a fake punt to be called? Kind of a stretch.
The Business-like approach worked from 2001-2007, and that 2007 had all veterans.
Rex Ryan’s rah, rah, rah approach works better! Well, it works for the Jets. But the last FIVE Super Bowl winning coaches are: Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, Tom Coughlin, Tony Dungy and Bill Cowher. Cowher was probably the most rah, rah of that group. While all of them are more animated than Belichick with the exception of Dungy none were thump your chest guys. And let’s not forget that the Jets haven’t won anything yet and the other 3 coaches still alive, Lovie Smith, Mike McCarthy and Mike Tomlin are not thumpers either.
Belichick has lost his mojo! Yes, the fake punt no matter whose fault it was, and the poor time management in the fourth quarter don’t look great for Bill, but three turnovers versus zero will lose you playoffs games. (Counting the punt and the turnover on downs)
It’s common when you’re doing a TV show or filling 4 hours a day on the radio to take a micro-look at every aspect of the team. But, let’s talk about this game.
Tom Brady, threw 4 interceptions the entire regular season. He threw one on the first drive, ON FIRST DOWN that cost them at least 3 points and probably 7. People have remarked it didn’t actually cost them points. Well sure it did. They didn’t score on that drive and the Jets possession took up about 10 minutes of game time. Time they could have used in the second half. If the Pats score 10 points on their first two possessions there is no fake punt attempt and the game is completely different. What really happened is this young, inexperienced defense was carried by a guy who had one of the all-time great seasons in the NFL. And when he played bad or just ok they either lost or nearly lost. The two Jets losses, the Packer and the Browns losses are examples of that.
Fact is people have forgotten that in 2001, 2003 and 2004 it was a complete TEAM. And that team had a great defense. A defense that could bail you out when your QB made mistakes and guess what people, FELGER, CALLAHAN, HART, he did!!
2001 Playoffs – Brady’s only played a quarter against the Steelers and threw for 146 yards in the Super Bowl. He was money when they needed but he didn’t carry them.
2003 Playoffs – 201 yards against the Titans, they win 17-14 on the strength of the defense and special teams. 237 yards against the Colts but threw a KEY pick in the end zone that almost let the Colts back in the game despite 5 INTs. Brady was great in the Super Bowl.
2004 Playoffs – 144 yards passing against the Colts. Defense gave up 3 points. 207 yards against the Steelers as the Patriots dominated in all 3 phases of the game. And let’s not forget Brady had a key fumble in the Super Bowl early and if not for Rodney Harrison’s play early on, it could have been a crushing loss for the Pats.
My point is, look at who is still standing in the playoffs, they all have great defenses. Did defense lose the game Sunday? No, but when the QB struggled they didn’t help win it. Two TD’s following Patriot scores. So, while it’s easy to nitpick every move, from the Welker benching to Spygate, people need to remember the NFL is a game about turnovers ask the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots turned it over and that’s why they lost to a team they beat 45-3.
The local media and fans are stunned. They should be stunned and I still think if the Patriots won this week they could have gone to the Super Bowl despite their “business-like” approach. The Jets needed to play a perfect game AND hope the Patriots didn’t. That’s what happened. It’s really that simple. This team will win another Super Bowl when they have a team that doesn’t rely on one player to always be above average for them to win. It’s easier to game plan for one side of the ball.
I came to the exact same conclusion. Do an image search of “Teddy Bruschi Sports Illustrated” the caption says it all.
Isn’t the use of the word “debacle” as over the top as the people you’re critiquing here? Sure, the Pats were out played at key points in the game but the final spread was only seven points. I contend that the unforced errors, the two dropped touchdown passes(Crumpler,Welker), Chung’s call for the fake punt, Mankin’s stupid penalty,etc. all played as big a role as anything the Jets did to them. You can’t be a team that wins by being efficient on offense,bend but not break on defense,not making turnovers,etc. and then have one of your sloppiest games in the playoffs and expect to win.
So Should Brady play in the Pro Bowl? I am thinking it would be best to sit it out and just rest. No need to aggravate anything over a silly/pointless game!
I think I’ve come to grips w/ how well the Pats’ rebuilding year went. The finale was not good and they have beaten the final 4 (albeit in a nailbiter with the Packers) so there’s a what-if feel. But hey, they didn’t do it, it’s over. Can they build off it? Here’s hoping…
Get a pass rush, win another two or three Super Bowls while Brady is still here. It’s as simple as that. The run defense isn’t great, but it’s good enough. The secondary, pending the healthy return of Bodden next year is also good enough—IF they finally generate some pressure on the QB. That is something they haven’t done consistently, really, since Roosevelt Colvin broke his foot in Week 11 of ther 2007 season and missed the rest of the year (and, unfortunately, the Super Bowl). The Jets will lose Sunday because the Steelers will harrass Sanchez and force him into mistakes, which is something the Pats’ pass rush could not do. Yeah, the team has some weakness on the O-Line and perhaps could use more explosiveness at WR and RB, but in the end it’s all about getting pressure on the QB. If they can do that next year, they will have a defense that can pickup the offense when the offense isn’t having a great day.
I’ll disagree with the Welker benching comment you made. It DID change the tone of the game, whether you want to admit it or not. Now, granted it made no statistical difference in the end, it still cast a pall on the start of a huge home playoff game. I think Vince Wilfork’s comments are just the tip of the iceberg on what people thought of the benching and the Pats subsequently came out tight.
The Patriots defense might not have “lost” the Jets game…..HOWEVER, to me the the turning point of the game was when the Pats cut the Jets lead to 14-11 ….. It was the begining of the 4th quarter. The crowd was back in the game, everybody had a, “Alright!, now we make our move!” attitude…..and what happened?….The Pats defense immediately gives up a big play and before you know it the Jets are back on the goaline…..BANG…Jets 21 Pats 11……THAT WAS THE KILLER. The Pats D needed to step up and they couldn’t do it……bottomline: The Pats defense improved as the year went along but they need to improve alot more.