Patriots K Adam Vinaiteri was clutch again last Saturday. (AP)
I watched the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans the other night and was wondering, as I am sure all other Jets fans were, why not us? I think we have a better quarterback, running back, offensive line, speed rushers on the D-line, and just as equal (if not better) KO return/punt return men. I just don’t know why the Jets can’t do what the Pats do. I watch the Pats with envy and rage as they seemed to pick up every first down, make big stops, electrify their ice-cold fans and find another way to win.
Every year right after the Super Bowl, football pundits talk non-stop on what wins championships. Remember Baltimore’s defense and mistake free offense? The Ram’s “Greatest Show on Turf”? The Buc’s shut down defense? All those teams won the Super Bowl but never could repeat their dominance due to either salary cap issues (Ravens), scheduling and injuries (Bucs) or just complete arrogance (Mike Martz’s play calling in the 2001 Super Bowl to better showcase the pass doomed the Rams). Those flaws hurt those teams but I also think head coaches and coordinators “figured them out”. The Patriots however seem to be the exception. They can’t be “figured out” because you can’t break down the strength and will of a TEAM, especially in football.
Now let me preface what I am going to write by saying that I HATE the Patriots. I HATE Bill Belichick, Charlie Weis and crew for taking Mr. Hess’ money and running out of town. I HATE Tom Brady’s stupid smile, Adam Vinateri’s magic leg and the seeming endless breaks that seem to help those guys. I HATE their obnoxious fans who start fights in the stands and go on to say they never really liked Drew Bledsoe anyway (I think it’s funny that as much as those people love the Pats, you know if there was Red Sox playoff game on last Sat night, Gillette stadium would be half-empty). But I RESPECT each and every Patriot to the highest degree possible.
The Pats, I think, have the new blueprint for success in the NFL (regardless of whether or not they win this year’s Super Bowl). They have overcome the flaws I listed above that seem to doom teams. Salary Cap Issues? They waived Lawyer Milloy two days before the opener, got burned by him opening day in Buffalo but haven’t looked back since. Scheduling? They play pretty much the same schedule as the Jets and play tough division rivals (no matter how bad NY or Buffalo or Miami can be in any give year, it is always a dogfight). Injuries? They lost their best free agent signing in years (Roosevelt Colvin) and still had a great defense. Additionally no Pats receiver has started every game this season and they still win. Arrogance? What little they had seemed to have been knocked out of them last year when they lost 4 straight after starting 3-0. Bill Belichick isn’t arrogant; he is just so much more prepared than any opposing coach.
If you really analyze the Patriots you would think they win with smoke and mirrors. They have a great defense but probably only possess one guy that other teams would pay up for to get (Ty Law). They have a powerful running game but no one on the offensive line is going to the Pro Bowl and one of their running backs is a cast off from Buffalo (Antowain Smith) while the other averages 3.6 yards per carry (Kevin Faulk). They have a solid receiving corp. but no one stands over six feet. They have a quarterback who has won a Super Bowl but has thrown 12 INT’s and only has an 85.9 QB rating this year. But, but, but, but….
“But” is the operative word that comes in the middle of all those statements. It is a conjunction that shows a contradiction of sorts. And after all those paradoxes, another conjunctional phase could be stated … but they win. They win because they have heart, confidence and intelligence. They win because they above all play as a team. They win because they know how important it is to win games in September and October so that they can host games like they one they did on Saturday night. They win because they have a kicker who might be the most clutch special teams player in NFL history. They win because when Tom Brady looks into the eyes of the 10 other guys in the huddle, he shows poise and instills complete confidence in them. They win because the players actually listen to the coaches, don’t blow their assignments and trust in each other to make plays. They win because Belichick, Weis and Romeo Crennell study and come up with new ways to frustrate you and then beat you.
I think Chad Pennington is a better QB than Tom Brady. I think Kevin Mawae and company protect better and can open more holes than Damien Woody and his teammates. I think Santana Moss is faster and quicker than Troy Brown. I think Curtis Martin is a better runner than Smith/Faulk. I think John Abraham gets to the passer better than Richard Seymour. I think Herman Edwards motivates players better than Bill Belichick. I think a lot of things but I KNOW the Patriots are the best TEAM in football. I am hoping that next year at this time someone on a Patriot Fans Website writes the same thing about the Jets. Here’s to hoping…