First let me introduce myself, seeing that this is my first submission in the Blogosphere. I’m Jay, a husband, father of one with one on the way, and a Patriots fan. But more importantly, I’m a football fan, so I believe I look at this team in a more objective way (with a touch of homer-ism). Hopefully you will enjoy reading my blog and please feel free to comment, agree or disagree. I do love a good sports debate.
Now to the main issue on hand, the New England Patriots. It has been a rough month or so since the Pats tough loss in the Wild Card round of the Playoffs and the question I have heard from Patriots Nation is “who do we blame? “ I have heard some ridiculous theories about Brady, such as “now that he has a baby and wife his mind is elsewhere.” This is unreal; Brady had a fantastic season. No, it wasn’t 2007 good, but Brady is not the problem. Do we blame Belichick — has the genius lost it? Is his risky decisions (i. e., the Indy Game) hurting this team? As much as I didn’t like that decision to go for it on 4th down at Indy, I don’t blame Bill, and I don’t believe he is the problem. So where does the blame lie?
My answer is on the defensive side of the ball. There is no leader on this defense. We watched four giant pillars of this defense in recent years walk away this off-season in Harrison, Bruschi, Seymour and Vrabel (granted through trades and retirement) and tried to replace them with younger, faster players. But one thing was missing — none of those players are ready to be leaders on this team. Mayo is a fantastic player but he is still young, and while I do believe he will be one of the leaders down the line, he just wasn’t that guy this year. Mayweather and Sanders were supposed to be leader types but I didn’t see it, on the field anyway. Wilfork should be ready for the role, but with big Vince worrying about his upcoming contract he certainly wasn’t much of a leader in the locker room. They brought in Adalius Thomas in free agency a few years ago to be a vocal playmaker; he’s been vocal, but not much of a playmaker, and he may not be with this team much longer if he keeps mouthing off like a spoiled child. And the 75-year-old Junior Seau and his TV show wasn’t going to save this defense.
So to paraphrase Rick Pitino, “Bruschi and Harrison aren’t walking through that door.” It’s now up to Coach Bill to bring in someone to be a leader on defense and be his voice out there on the field. Who that should be is a mystery — Peppers? Mayo? All I know that was not the New England Patriots hit-you-in-the-mouth defense on the field during the 2009 season, and Belichick knows it. Why do you think he has taken back the defensive play calling?
See you next time on the Blaaaaaammmeeee Game!!
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Written by Jason Smalley