Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm back!...but Wes and the Pats aren't.

Things have turned real sour since my last post. My computer broke, got fixed, broke again then got fixed again. During that time the Patriots have been on a downward spiral. In a meaningless road game, Wes Welker tore his ACL and MCL and is likely out until November. The week after I personally witnessed the Pats season end in an embarrassing home loss to the Ravens. Obviously the post I left on was wrong. All signs seem to be pointing towards the end of a dynasty. The hopes for another Lombardi in Foxborough now seem unrealistic.
     The major reason for this decline is the loss of veteran leadership. It never really worried me when Bruschi, Vrabel, Harrison, Seymour and all those guys left in the offseason. Even with that group, our defense needed improvement in the '08 season. However, the playoff loss made their absence extremely apparent. In the 98.5 The Sports Hub pregame show, Chris Gasper talked of a weird feeling in the locker room that week. He described a lack of urgency that hadn't been felt in a New England locker room in a long time. Especially not in the playoffs. Certainly not in the era of Belichick-Brady. This deficiency clearly translated onto the field that day. After the game Kevin Faulk talked of failed efforts to get the players motivated during the game, "...I kept hearin' guys on the sideline saying we had time. We had time to come back, we had time to do this, we just gotta take it one play at a time. But no one was putting forth the effort. Why even talk about it if we're not even gonna put forth the effort to do it?" This kind of thing seems like a red flag. The players lacked inspiration. Guys like Bruschi and Harrison would've instilled the drive to win in these young players all season long. However, without their presence in the locker room the younger, inexperienced players were without that motivation; without the Patriot Way. With the loss of these veterans the Patriots lost as much off the field as on it. Tom Brady spoke of this on WEEI the morning after the loss, "Guys like Tedy and Rodney and Mike and Larry Izzo and Richard, they don’t come around very often. It’s not like those guys are just available via free agency every year. These are special players and special guys. It’s not the Patriot uniform that makes the team play the ‘Patriot Way’ that you refer to. It’s the coaches and the players, collectively working toward the same goal. Any time you lose players like that, there is a loss". This is a major reason I believe the Patriots run may be over. As Brady said you don't just pick up guys like Bruschi and Vrabel in the free agent market. These guys are irreplaceable and were an incredibly integral part of the Patriots success this decade. Now that they are gone, the Patriots find themselves fighting an up hill battle.

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