I love Boston, the city of my youth, itās a great mix of beautiful seasons (three anyway) lots to do, great culture and great sports teams. Itās also home to some of the most negative, glass half-empty sports reporters in the business.
Now that the Red Sox epic September collapse is done, the nay-sayers have shifted their crosshairs straight on Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. The locals falling all over themselves to appear un-biased have for the past few years gone way over to the negative side on the balance sheet.
Reading about Belichick and the Patriots, if one were an alien transported to Earth, you would think this is a team that never wins a big game and is a perpetual has-been. Which is exactly what this team WAS before Belichick came to town and the Patriots started winning more games than anyone the past decade.
Take this week for example, a big game ensued with the Jets, with first place of the AFC East on the line. Rex Ryan head coach of the Jets, never one to mince words said that the Jets āneed this gameā. Fair enough, the Jets had already lost to New England and didnāt want to get swept and essentially go behind two games with a loss.
All week, the gloom and doom rivaled only the ground and pound we heard from the press. Nearly every one of them predicted a Jets victory (including this writer), signifying the changing of the guard in the AFC East. The Pats obits were written on Saturday night on a lot of laptops. Unlike the rest, I said that the season didnāt end after Week 9 that there was still plenty of football left win or lose. Some were actually questioning whether this 2011 Patriots team was a playoff team.
But a funny thing happened in the swamps of New Jersey on Sunday night. Bill Belichick and a cast of no names on defense that no one ever heard of, broke open a close game in the fourth quarter, eventually blowing out the Jets 37-16. Want proof? NBC had to Marcel Marceau two of the starters for the Patriots defense during the introductions because no one had ever heard of these guys. The Patriots won? Yeah butā¦
Bill Belichick coached a fine game Sunday night, yeah but… (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Amazing how everyone was ready to throw dirt on this Patriots team for the season but yet after a huge team victory on Sunday, all of the Boston media felt it necessary to caveat their stories or broadcasts with the āPatriots win, yeah butā¦ Take your pick
A. They will ultimately lose in the playoffs. That is ordained after just nine games? Really?
B. They didnāt really win the game, the Jets lost it?
Again, really? Had the Patriots lost that game with the mistakes the Jets made, would we be reading the Jets didnāt win it, the Patriots lost it? No weād be reading like we were subjected to all week of how Rex Ryan had forged a āmentally toughā team. That they stepped up at crunch time, yeah butā¦
Tom Brady shook off another so-so first half, leading a last minute drive to put the Pats up for good, going 80 yards for a touchdown with just 9 seconds left. Yeah butā¦. The Jets shouldnāt have called timeout. Brady in the second half put on a vintage performance completing his last 14 passes of the game, brilliantly using the no-huddle against an obviously gassed Jets defense. Yeah butā¦.
Rob Gronkowski tortured the Jets secondary time and again, specifically the overmatched Eric Smith to the tune of 8 catches for 113 yards and 2 TDs. He narrowly missed a third when he stepped out of bounds in the back of the endzone. The Jets didnāt have anyone to match up with him, even putting Darrelle Revis on him. Yeah butā¦
Andre Carter had a day that no Patriot defender has hadā¦ever. Four and half sacks against Mark Sanchez and he narrowly missed a couple of more. Carter set a team record for sacks in one game. Ā For the first time in quite a while, the Patriots had a consistent pass rush, forcing Sanchez to move or throw the ball before he wanted to. And because of this, the Patriots beat the Jets at their own game, getting pressure rushing four and dropping seven into coverage and leaving little room to throw. Yeah butā¦
Carter got scanty praise, instead Iāve read or heard āhe got the first two sacks which were more coverage sacks and the last two were because the Jets were so far behind.ā Or because the Jets offensive line had a poor gameā¦OK fine, but wasnāt this the same Jets offensive line that all week we heard, was again one of the better ones in the NFL again with the returned health of Nick Mangold and had resumed their āground and poundā mentality?
Carterās last two sacks were against DāBrickashaw Fergusson, hardly a stiff. One of the better offensive tackles in the NFL we were told all week. I wonder if Westerman had four and a half sacks for the Jets, would we have heard that? Yeah butā¦
After the Devin McCourty injury the Patriots were playing a secondary with all UDFAs. One Sterling Moore had never even played a down as a Safety before. They performed very, very well, much better than anyone had any reason to suspect. What did we read on Monday, āthe secondary played well butā¦. Sanchez was the reason they did, or if they played anyone other than the Jets they would have been roasted etc.ā Yeah butā¦
Bill Belichick has been called into question a lot this year, surprising considering the team is 6-3, some of it is well deserved as in his personnel decisions, but many were questioning his coaching ability as well. After putting that patchwork defense on the field in a big game against a team that has perpetual Super Bowl aspirations (just ask them) and on the road to boot, the Patriots hold them to 16 points. Did Belichick get many kudos on Monday. āBelichick got the most out of the team, yeah butā¦ Rex Ryan made too many mistakesā Anyone who thinks Belichick has lost it as a coach should get a game tape and watch the Patriots defense in this game and see who was on the field. The 32nd ranked defense missing three starters stepped up in a big way. Yeah butā¦
This week on our PatsFans Patriots 4th & 2 podcast we had Mike Reiss from ESPN Boston who gave a lot of his usual great insight into the team. He had the Patriots winning and he said, āI see this team as a resilient one, this is a good locker room and I think they are going to pull together and pull out a big win.āĀ Reiss saw something the rest of us seemed to have missed. That maybe this Patriots team is made of much sterner stuff than what was thought of earlier. Yeah butā¦
Now after the win, with the Jets celebration put on hold, the Boston media feels itās necessary to throw ice water on the parade again caveating everything with a statement that regardless of the win, this is a team destined for playoff defeat. WEEI in weekly report card felt it was necessary to say that as well as the Boston Globe among others, stating the Patriots defense was bound to be the reason this team will SURELY lose in January.
Once again, really? Should the last seven games be written off because of a destiny already written in stone? With seven games to go, there are too many variables to deal with to state unequivocally that the Patriots will lose. I listened to 98.5 yesterday, and heard that āthere is no way the Patriots will beat Houston in the playoffs.ā Ā The same Houston team that has never been to the playoffs, let alone actually won a playoff game? Then we hear that the QB Matt Schaub is gone for the year. Are the Texans so āunbeatableā with Matt Leinart at QB?
Is the Patriots defense championship caliber right now? No, not even close. But are we to believe that it canāt get better with nearly half the season remaining? Ā If the Patriots offense can execute like they did yesterday, it doesnāt have to be the ā86 Bears. Yeah butā¦ someone will shut them down. Yeah butā¦ no can shut down the Packers. Speaking of which, Green Bayās defense is closer to the Patriots in terms of yardage than anyone would ever dream of saying, giving up nearly the same amount of passing yards. Yeah butā¦
With seven games remaining, there is too much time to worry about who is going to roll through the playoffs, who is one and done or who even makes it. Bill Belichick certainly isnāt, his focus is on the Kansas City Chiefs only and not who might be on the slate in January. There is plenty of time to dissect what the defense looks like, after the next seven games, then talk about matchups. Who knows what everyoneās roster will look like in seven weeks.
To the Boston media, quit being such negative, silly nannies (see Family Guy). If they play badly, call them on it. Call out the coaches, the players even Robert Kraft and Belichick if they deserve it. Quit looking for a storm cloud in every ray of sunshine. In perfect āBelispeakā just do your job. Yeah butā¦.
Around the Internet:
By: Steve Balestrieri
By: Miguel Benzan
By: Steve Balestrieri
By: Steve Balestrieri
By: Steve Balestrieri
By: Derek Havens
By: Steve Balestrieri