Monday, December 7, 2015

The Patriots and the fools

Some people were shocked -- SHOCKED!! -- that the mighty New England Patriots were defeated at home by the lowly Philadelphia Eagles. In normal times, this would have been quite the upset indeed. But these are not normal times.

Some talking heads have suggested that Rob Gronkowski is more important to the Patriots than Tom Brady. In their world, the Patriots would be better served with their back-up QB throwing to Gronk than Brady throwing to his replacement. These people are fools and obviously miss the bigger picture.

Before he's done, however many more years that is, Tom Brady has already cemented his legacy as likely the best QB in the history of the NFL. Like him or hate him, it is what it is. How he and head coach Bill Belichick have made more out of less over the last 15 years is nothing short of astounding. Scads of great players have departed through free-agency or been cut for other reasons, but the Patriots have continued to find no-names, plug them in to their system as replacements and -- presto -- they become very good very quickly and the beat goes on in Foxborough.

But even the brilliance of B&B has its limits. Even the finest of armies can only suffer so many casualties before they're going to lose a battle here and there. And the Patriots are the walking-wounded indeed. Consider:

Three of their starting five offensive linemen have gone down with injuries. Their wide-receiver corps has been decimated. Danny Amendola's out. Same with Julian Edelman. Dion Lewis got dinged. They'd lost two of their top running backs. But the talking idiots maintain everything would be OK if only Gronk hadn't been injured as well. Did I mention fools?

No, things would not be OK. When a team only has one offensive go-to weapon -- even a formidable one -- the other defenses are very much aware of that. Gronkowski himself got his knee clipped while trying to make a catch in the predictable double coverage. And plugging in no-name guys with little to no experience in the middle of the season is a whole lot different than having groomed them through training camp and the preseason games to thoroughly learn the system.

With Belichick and Brady, basically the Patriots find themselves in the position of having a brilliant general and field marshal, but trying to win battles with raw recruits for soldiers doing the fighting.

Sure, defense is equally important, but more Patriot no-names continue to pretty well hold their own.

In the game against the Eagles, three big plays pretty much doomed the Patriots. Yep, Brady made an ill-advised throw as his team was poised to score a touchdown. It was picked off and run back almost 100 yards for a touchdown the other way. A 14 point turnaround.

The Pats gave up another TD to the Eagles on a long punt return.
They had yet another punt blocked that resulted in yet another return for touchdown by the Eagles.

In a few words, New England's special teams play pretty well sucked.

Losing a close game to the Broncos last week in Denver wasn't that much of a surprise, but few thought the woeful Eagles could dispatch the Patriots at home. But that's what happens when you give the other team 3 touchdowns on 3 horribly botched plays. At that, the Pats only lost 35-28. One touchdown worth. Nevertheless, the bottom line still counts it as a loss, and that's all that matters in the NFL.

Can the Pats recover to begin another march to another Super Bowl to defend their championship of last year? It depends. Their remaining schedule isn't all that tough. Texans, Titans, Jets, and Dolphins.

But the key is getting a few of their wounded soldiers back to active duty.  If that happens, don't count them out.

Yeah, Cincinnati is supposed to be all that, but we all know they'll fold in the playoffs, because that's what they do. Denver is a maybe now that Peyton Manning has mercifully been relegated to the sidelines. And yes, KC is coming on like gangbusters and never underestimate the will and brutishness of Mike Tomlin, Big Ben, and the Steelers.

But if the Patriots get their shock troops back from the IR, would you really bet against them?

There are those that want to write them off already. Fools.

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