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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

State of the Union

Are the Pats on the verge of collapse? Beat Writer Bolando examines the state of the Patriots.

Bad drafts?

The Richard Seymour Trade?

No #3 WR?

Losing the key defensive guys?

What the hell happened on Sunday? The interesting question is how many other coaches in the NFL would have survived a home playoff loss like that? Sure there are some who have the same teflon standing, but there are plenty who would have been at risk of being bounced after such a debocle. Wade Phillips, Brad Childress, Norv Turner come to mind. This year's Pats looked more like the 2005 and 2006 teams who won in round 1 but weren't favored to go beyond that. So much has been written lately about how the decade's dynasty is over. How the Belicheck mystique is fading. All the sour notes about his cold style and his ego. And maybe they're right. I don't know how it can fall to pieces so quickly -- which probably means it hasn't fallen that far.

8 Playoff Births in 10 years

5 AFC Championships in 10 years

4 Super Bowls in 10 years

3 Titles

A 14-4 postseason record in 10 years.

Yet, everyone is ready to call it an era.

Sure -- this wasn't the best season, and all those factors above are involved. It turned a corner on the 4th and 2 play as I feel like that would have gone a long way in staying on course -- it took a sharper turn on the New Orleans thrashing -- but none of that was supposed to effect this week.

Did Belicheck lose the team along the way? I don't really know -- but does anyone remember the 1995 season after the Pats lost to Cleveland in the 1994 playoffs? Everyone had such high hopes -- Tuna was going to only build on the 1994 season. Yet the Pats went something like 6-10 -- they were a mess -- and people were all over Parcells...

Truth is, 2007 and 2008 were probably two of Belicheck's best coaching seasons ever. And no one would dispute it. They had the 16-0 regular season in 2007 breaking multiple offensive records and thrashing opponents, all through the controversy of Spygate which could have derailed a more vulnerable team -- he certainly didn't lose his players against San Diego on Sunday night when the players would have run through the Great Wall in China for him. Then in 2008, with the loss of Tom Brady in week 1, an unproven Matt Cassell, the same Matt Cassell everyone was driving to cut during the pre-season -- the same Matt Cassell who laid an egg in KC this year -- and they went 11-5 -- in some seasons, 1996, 2001 to name a few -- 11-5 would have made New England a #2 seed in the Conference.

It's amazing how opinions change in a year. His ego is in the way... his players are tired of his style.... he lost too many key assistants. But that's what happens in a loss like this -- had they beaten Baltimore and then lost to San Diego -- people would have shrugged and said, San Diego was the better team.

Maybe this will be a wake-up call -- Maybe this will be an excuse to make some necessary changes.

On Sunday, they should have won. But this is the same Baltimore team that went to the AFC Championship game only last year. This is the same Baltimore team with a chip on their shoulder after they felt robbed in the regular season. This isn't Oakland or Detroit -- Baltimore is a good squad from a tough division.

The Pats got pumped -- outplayed, outcoached, outhustled -- out-everything -- they stunk. It happens - to the best of them... What went wrong on Sunday? Everything. But it happens to even the best of them.

1987 -- the San Francisco 49ers were 13-2, they had the 1st ranked Offense in points and yards -- they had the 3rd ranked defense -- and they put up 3 measley points to an over-achieving Minnesota Vikings team in San Francisco in the playoffs -- one and done -- thank you, Joe Montana and Bill Walsh.

If this were Brad Childress, or Norv Turner, Wade Phillips and probably 10 other NFL coaches -- the turmoil in Foxborough would be chaotic.

But Patriot fans still have Belicheck, and Brady, and the core of a franchise that will only make them stronger.

In the meantime, pitchers and catchers report in 5 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. All good things must come to an end, Mr. Beat Writer. Time to turn the page and move on. Brady now has diapers to change while Little Bill has a new lady friend to please. The good ole day are ova.....