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This is the first of a weekly column on all things New England Patriots.
Sunday was just great. There’s nothing like the opening day of the NFL. It may not have the history of opening day in Major League Baseball, but seeing your team run out of the tunnel onto the field for the first time still gives me goosebumps.
Before the 2004 season (the year the Pats took down the Eagles), I remember looking at the schedule and the Patriots roster and commenting to a friend, ‘In all honesty, we shouldn’t lose more than a game or two all season.’ Well, the Patriots proved me right, losing only to Pittsburgh on the road and that bizarre collapse by Brady and the boys on Monday Night Football against the Dolphins. Other than that, the prophecy was filled and the Pats beat both co-NFL MVPs on their way to a Super Bowl XXXIX win against the Eagles.
Get ready New England, because our team is locked, loaded and ready to start the march towards Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix.
The Patriots were simply dominant in Sunday’s 38-14 win over the J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets. Despite missing two of their defensive stop gaps in Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour, the Pats never seemed in any trouble of faltering in against the unproven Jets. That’s the key thing to remember here. The Jets may be the best competition in the AFC East this season but they are far from an elite team. After consulting several different media outlets it’s apparent that not only are the Patriots receiving heaps of accolades from their performance, but everyone seems to be keeping the good start in perspective. The Pats have no room for error with the San Diego Chargers coming into town next Sunday night.
Tom Brady now has an arsenal of reliable weapons. Randy Moss now has a coach-quarterback combo that even he can’t complain about. Wes Welker has as many touchdowns in one week than he had all of last season. And Donte Stallworth only caught one pass in the blowout win!
The offensive line was simply outstanding on Sunday as Brady never tasted dirt and had a jersey as clean as the Pope’s driving record. If the line can keep some semblance of that dominance in the future, there is no way defenses will be able to stop the Patriots attack. Injuries will take its toll and the Jets do not possess a dominant pass rusher, but anytime you can give your quarterback the time to look to three or four options, it’s commendable.
A story broke yesterday that someone “with the Patriots” was caught taping the Jets’ defensive coaches while they signaled in plays. My first reaction is “so what”, and my second reaction is, well, “so what!?”. First off, nothing has been proven so far, so it’s tough to react on allegations. But if true, not only would I suggest that most teams in most sports try to get an edge (though I would hope most would be more conspicuous about it) but that the Patriots don’t need to know what defense the Jets are running to run rings around the Meadowlands.
Adalius Thomas dropped an easy interception and overall didn’t have much of an impact. I’d like to believe he is still acclimating to the inside linebacker position. While one Patriot favorite seemed non-existent (Tedy Bruschi – four tackles) another is back at his old position and thriving. Mike Vrabel recorded seven tackles and two and a half sacks on Sunday. Because of the addition of Thomas and the return of Seau, Vrabel will be able to come off the edge and remind us of his glory years (remember now, he was the pass rusher which forced Kurt Warner to throw a second quarter interception returned for a touchdown by Ty Law in Super Bowl XXXVI). This defense – once Harrison and Seymour return – will be better than any of the defenses the Patriots Super Bowl teams had.
This Sunday night, we’ll find out more about this Patriots team. It is not a win or die game however. If the Patriots fall to the highly talented Chargers we won’t look back to the Jets win as an aberration. The Patriots will dominate inferior teams this year like we’ve never seen them do. How they’ll fare against the likes of San Diego and Cincinnati remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure: I will be one of the 65,000+ screaming Patriots fans at The Razor next Sunday night with the expectations that Brady, Moss and company can show just how much potential this Patriots team has. Enjoy this season Patriots fans, it could be something special.
Football is back.