Friday, October 31, 2008

On The Pats...

Wow, when was the last time a Pats-Colts game was this un-anticipated? I'd say that you have to go back to the third game of the 2001 season AKA Tom Brady's first start when it seemed a foregone conclusion that the then 2-0 Colts, fresh off putting up 87 points in their first two games of the season would roll into Foxboro and decimate the Patriots. That game was supposed to be the Colts third straight rout of the year (come on, we all felt that way going in, don't be coy and say you knew they had something in Brady at that point) but instead it was the Patriots that did the routing with a 44-13 dismantling and the official start of "something" that year.

That game has nothing to do with this one, but for the better part of this decade, Pats-Colts has been the marquis NFL rivalry with nothing even in the same area code. But this year there is wholly something lacking. Whereas in the past, the week before Pats-Colts would be all stories about previous matchups between the two, Brady & Manning, etc, this year I have hardly heard a peep. Of course a banged up Colts team that has looked iffy at best all year and a Patriots team without Tom Brady has everything to do with this, but still. Pats-Colts has been THE date on the schedule for both teams and the NFL pretty much since 2003 and it is just weird having it be such a non-factor right now. Like I said earlier, you probably have to go back to 2001 to find a time when a game between these two teams was as much a non-event.

But I digress because I really do want to care about this game. And of course I do. But I know I am not the only one who has struggled to get into the Pats this year. Last year's Super Bowl left me so scarred that I needed a full on Brady redemption. I'm not saying that I needed another 16-0 team, but I needed something. I needed a reason to want to tune into the Patriots on a weekly basis. While of course I will, I'm not hunting down a sports bar to watch the game if they aren't on nationally. This may sound sacrelig to you Boston folks, but put yourself in my position. If you had the choice of spending your Sunday by yourself in a seedy sports bar somewhere in Virginia to watch the Patriots eek out an ugly victory over the Rams or do something else that did not involve dark bars and cigarette smoke at 1 in the afternoon, wouldn't you do it? You would, I promise.

And this isn't to say this all because Brady is not around either. It was exactly the same way back in 2006. Remember that team? They stumbled around through the first 10 weeks of the season, going 6-3 and then they found their stride down the stretch, finishing 12-4 and in the playoffs they were a Troy Brown first down away from making the Super Bowl. That team was pretty brutal at the start too with the Reche Caldwell/Doug Gabriel/Jabar Gaffney passing attack. They found their way though and when you look back at that season you think about them blowing that massive halftime lead to the Colts in the AFC Championship and not all the crap that happened the first 10 weeks.

So with that, I say give these guys some time. I know they aren't that fun and exciting at the moment and are kind of tough to get behind in the complete sense. But maybe, come late November or so things will start falling into place a bit more for them and all of a sudden we'll all realize that what they are doing - competing at a high level with JV talent at QB, DB, and a MASH unit at RB - is pretty impressive. Plus, if the QB and O-Line can keep sacks at a modest 2/game then maybe, just maybe we have a contender on our hands. Doubtful, but I love what BB could potentially scheme up in a one game scenario when he is the under-manned coach and team for the first time in quite some time. You gotta admit that if the Pats are on the road at TN in the second round (a likely scenario at the moment) that despite their glaring shortcomings on paper you'd have to give them more than a puncher's chance. I know I would.

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