Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Posts Tagged ‘New England Patriots’

Pursuit of (Im)Perfection

Posted by mizzou1028 on January 22, 2008

As I sit down and look at the upcoming Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and the Giants, I can’t help but notice some irony, as if the football gods have a sense of humor.  The Patriots were huge underdogs to a clearly more talented Rams team in the Super Bowl following the 2001 season.  No one gave them a chance, even though the Patriots were very competitive in the regular season meeting vs. the Rams, losing 24-17.  Of course New England put together a brilliant defensive game plan in the Super Bowl and pulled off the upset 20-17 in the rematch.  Here we are six years later, and the Patriots find themselves at the other end of this type of matchup.  The early line shows New England as a 13 point favorite against the Giants, even though the regular season meeting was competitive, with New England winning 38-35 in week 17 at Giants Stadium.  The path the Patriots took to get to the top of the league has no doubt been the result of  great front office decisions, coaching and a huge boost from future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.  I’ll preface the following remarks by saying that if the Patriots do beat the Giants to cap off their perfect season, they will absolutely deserve the accolades for putting together the first 19-0 season in NFL history.  It would be difficult to argue that any team in history would be greater.  That doesn’t mean that I or any other fan who doesn’t like the Patriots has to enjoy it.

It’s turned out to be a funny thing that the Patriots aren’t one of my favorite teams.  In fact I used to like them.  I’ve always had a soft spot for underdog teams that haven’t enjoyed much success, and if my Broncos are out of the playoff hunt I will typically root for the underdog team whoever it is, provided it’s not the Chiefs or Raiders.  It is such that I rooted the Patriots on against the Rams in Super Bowl 36.  I admired how the Patriots came out of nowhere behind a quarterback that no one had heard of prior to the season and put together one of the surprising upsets in Super Bowl history.  I didn’t even mind them two years later when they won Super Bowl 38 against Carolina.  The Patriots showed a lot of gusto winning what turned out to be one of the great games in Super Bowl history.  I even tipped my cap to Bill Belichick when the Patriots beat my Broncos during that regular season in 2003, when he intentionally took a safety in the interest of field position late in the game, which allowed Brady to engineer a late drive to win.  I even have to give them their due for rising back to the top this season after two years of playoff defeats. 

So why is it that I have vehemently rooted against the Patriots this season, even against another team I hate, the Chargers?  Part of it is there doesn’t seem to be much fun in seeing Goliath win, but there is more to it than that.  For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was this article from SI’s Paul Zimmerman.  Naturally like most fans I was turned off by the accusations of Spygate against the Patriots.  If any of the accusations of cheating are true, than you really have to question their success over their entire run.  This article outlined examples from no fewer than three coaches that made me go “hmmm”.  When multiple coaches say their headsets went down during key times of a game in Foxboro, it at the very least requires a closer examination of what is going on.  Whatever proof may have existed has since been destroyed by the commissioner, so we’ll probably never truly know the extent of how much, or if, the Patriots really cheated.  Even if this season were to be “clean” where others may not have been, it still puts a smudge on what should be the greatest feat in NFL history. 

In a way it is really unfortunate that the Patriots have this hanging over their head.  They made a number of brilliant front office moves to put the team together, perhaps the biggest acquiring Randy Moss for essentially nothing (a 4th round pick) from the Raiders, followed closely by getting Wes Welker from Miami for a 2nd round selection.  Tom Brady is no doubt a Hall of Fame quarterback, and if he does win a fourth Super Bowl will be in Montana and Bradshaw territory.  The fact is though that even if there is perception that all of the titles were not fairly won, it is not possible for me to root for them in any way.  I find it difficult to believe that if the team was docked a 1st round draft pick and Belichick was fined the largest amount in league history for a coach ($500,000), that there wasn’t something going on there.  It still seems unfair they get a first round pick next year anyway, and a top 10 pick to boot, via a trade with San Francisco.  For me this scandal, for lack of a better word, puts a permanent black eye on the Patriots organization, and there is no possible way I can root for that kind of team. 

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Schottenheimer anyone?

Posted by mizzou1028 on January 21, 2008

I never thought I would utter the following phrase as a die hard Broncos fan, but I am livid that the San Diego Chargers didn’t win today (which says how much I can’t stand the Patriots but that’s another matter).   They literally handed the AFC Championship Game to New England on a silver platter.  For starters, they ended up with field goals on three seperate trips inside the 10 yard line, which is unacceptable in any game let alone on the road against the best team in the league.  On the last of those drives they wasted a valuable second half timeout to come up with a draw play on 3rd & 1.  It seemed as though the Chargers suddenly went tentative once they got inside the red zone.  That’s 12 points they left on the board right there.  Conversely, the Patriots coverted three of their four red zone opportunities for touchdowns, rather than having to settle for field goals.  Then, their kickoffs and punts were terrible all game long.  What is the one thing you don’t want to give Tom Brady especially on the road?  That would be excellent starting field position.  Routinely, the Patriots fielded kickoffs that didn’t even reach the 20 yard line, resulting in terrific field position.  Conversely, the Patriots kickoffs were much better, and didn’t give San Diego great field position to begin drives.  In spite of all that, the Chargers still were within striking distance, down 21-12 with just under 10 minutes to go.  Facing a 4th & 10 at the New England 35, they could have chosen to try a long field goal or even go for it to try and stay in the game.  No, instead the coaching “genius” Norv Turner (insert your own sarcasm comment here) elects to punt the ball, and the game, away.  The Chargers only “gained” roughly 20 yards on the punt, and they never saw the ball again, as the Patriots enegineered an impressive drive to put the game away.  What would the Chargers have lost really by going for it instead of punting?  At worst New England would have had the ball at the 35, but did Turner really believe his defense had much a shot to come up with a quick stop?  I realize they had intercepted Brady three times already in the game, but how many lives did they expect against New England? 

That’s not to say the Patriots don’t deserve credit for winning the game.  The final drive was certainly impressive, as was the Patriots defense for holding the Chargers down once they got inside the red zone.  New England also is to be commended for their offensive execution the red zone, particularly the play of Wes Welker.  That being said, how would the Patriots have fared against the Colts today?  Better yet, how would they have fared against a more intelligent coach, one who’s play calling would have been more savvy in the red zone and who would have shown more guts when it counted in the fourth quarter?  I certainly find it ironic that the Chargers playoff collapse of a year ago was blamed strictly on Marty Schottenheimer (for the record I too was among the blamers).  Now, it is clear that Turner at the very least contributed to this year’s defeat.  The bottom line is the Chargers played hard especially on defense, actually intercepting Brady three times, and also did a good job moving the ball offensively.  It was little things that cost them the game, and that can only be blamed on coaching. 

The bright side, getting back to me being a Broncos fan, is that Turner figures to be in control of a prime division rival for years to come.  I can’t wait until the Broncos win a close game against the Chargers becuase of dumb coaching by Turner.  The Chargers are scary on paper because they have tremendous young talent at every position, but as long as Turner is in charge, it will give the rest of the division a fighting chance. 

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