For the New England Patriots, it’s that old 2007 feeling
It would be easy to do the simple thing and sit here and say that I can’t remember an anticipation for a Patriots’ season like this one. The thing is, I would be lying to you.
The entire off-season felt exactly like the start of the that crazy 2007 season.
The similarities are almost blatantly obvious. In both cases, the previous year ended in heart-breaking fashion to a bitter rival of the Patriots’ and their fans. What made it worse is that both rivals featured one of the Manning brothers as their quarterback. Those losses were followed by head coach Bill Belichick being un-Belichick like and choosing to be uber aggressive in the next off-season.
That year, Belichick saw that his quarterback Tom Brady needed actual weapons to throw too, and not Reche Caldwell or Jabar Gaffney type guys. Brady needed big-time, all-pro capable receivers. Belichick did just that and traded draft picks in order to get Wes Welker and Randy Moss which was an odd move because trading draft picks is something he rarely does.
This year, the Super Bowl caused Belichick to recognize that the Patriots had a need to bring pressure off the edge on the defensive side of the football. Therefore, he traded up in the draft to get pass-rushed Chandler Jones and line-backer Dont’a Hightower. Once again, it was odd to see him being aggressive in the draft and trading up to get guys. Then, to top it all off, Belichick figured that Tom Brady must not have enough toys to play with and decided to go out and acquire Brandon Loyld and Jabar Gaffney so that Tom Brady can never throw to the same guy more than four guys in a game.
Every Patriots’ fan I talk to seems to say the same thing about this team, which makes this writing less fun as well.
“This team is stacked”
Unlike last year when everyone had a different idea of the floor and the ceiling of that particular Patriots team, everyone seems to think the same thing. The return of Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator is the return of the best offensive coordinator that Tom Brady ever had and can only mean good things for his success. The defense is a year more experienced – not older – and in addition to adding the pieces it needs to get closer to being “elite”, they now have a full off-season to practice and learn the system. The young guys of the offense like Gronkowski and Hernandez are only getting better and this is a team that was in the Super Bowl a year ago and was one play away last year from winning the whole damn thing.
In a way, it is boring. Part of the fun of the off-season is the question’s and the developing story-lines of the season. Really, the only story-line right now is what wacky adventure Rob Gronkowski gets himself into next. It is not like the Eagles last year who had their promise of the “Dream Team” where one or two losses will have the talking heads of the world wondering what is going on. The Patriots have somehow gone about their off-season quietly, making little fan-fare with their multiple team-boosting moves.
Maybe I just sound greedy and want everyone talking about the Patriots. I should probably be thankful. The only thing the talking heads want to talk about with the Patriots is the post-Super Bowl loss hangover that derails the next season. The last team to lose the big-game and get back to it was the Buffalo Bills, teams usually miss the playoffs after losing the Super Bowl blah, blah, blah. This Patriots team is better than the one that took the field last year, and somehow they have become a “nobody believes in us!” team in the eyes of the media due to the simple fact that they lost the Super Bowl.
It’s fine though. In true Patriots fashion, these guys will go about their business and start preparing for the long haul of the season. We know what we are getting with this team and even if no one is really talking about them, I’m sure they will come the winter time.
With training camp in full swing, I can’t be the only one who feels like this is the start of something special.