Mailbag time and the folks aren't real pleased with my 10-6 prediction for the Patriots in 2010. And I don't get it.
Red Sox fans can get all over their team, same with the Celtics and Bruins crowd. But Pats fans are so defensive. I guess it's because they have taken such a beating nationally over the last couple of years. But try to be fair -- your team struggled to 10-6 last year and took a whipping at home in the playoffs. They made no real moves to fix what to me was as big a weakness as I've seen on a Pats team in the Belichick era -- lack of pass rush -- and the core of the offense is firmly in football middle age. Throw in no Scott Piloi and the loss of a million assistants over the last half-decade and anyone not watching "Three Games to Glory" on an endless loop can see that is a team in the second or third stage of a slow decline. They are about where the Celtics were in 1988 -- a couple of years removed from dominance, but still lurking.
Ready for some "Brandon Spikes will get us to 14-2 talk?" Then to the 'bag we go …
Really bold to basically pick a relapse of last season. Ever consider that Brady and Moss are both essentially playing for contracts? We all know the story with the Pats, the more you count them out, the better they will play.
A: Well, I have zero proof that a guy in his contract year plays any better than he does in any other season. Haven't seen that study. There is, however, significant evidence that 33-year-old quarterbacks and wide receivers aren't going to be what they were a few years ago. And that's not to say that Brady and Moss are problems. If everyone on the Pats were as good at what they do as those two this would be the Super Bowl favorite, not a coin-flip playoff team.
And when exactly has anyone counted the Patriots out since 2001? Sure they were underdogs to the Colts and Steelers a few times in the playoffs when they should've been favored, but counted out? Pats fans get like this, though. Totally irrational.
On what basis do you have the Jets beating the Pats twice? The defense is improved with the subtraction of Thomas alone. We have the advantage at QB and receiver. Their running game is equal at best even with an addition of an aging LT. The Jets will be 8-8 at best. Lets see the Jets do well in their second year under Rex Ryan. The Patriots will be a 12-4, 13-3 team with the schedule the have.
A: See what I mean? This is the argument for an improved defense? They got rid of a guy?
No doubt that I'd take Brady/Moss/Welker/Holt/Edelman over Sanchez/Holmes/Edwards/Keller/Cotchery. But is that what it's really about? I would have taken Warner/Holt/Bruce/Faulk over Brady/Brown/Patten/Smith, but so what? That Patriots team had legitimate game-changers on the defensive side of the ball. Milloy. Seymour. Bruschi. McGinest. Law (the real MVP of that game). The Jets have those kind of players on defense right now, and the Patriots don't. And for me that's the difference.
You have to start with IF, if Sanchez improves I think they win the division easily. If their defense plays as well as it looks on paper they could go far.
If Sanchez does not improve you will be right.
A: How come no one ever says that the girl upgrades when she goes from an ugly guy to a good-looking one? We hear it all the time with guys, right? Mimi Rodgers to Nicole Kidman (1989 version) is an example of an all-time upgrade. But let's give Jamie Lynn Sigler credit -- Turtle to Mark Sanchez is a serious upgrade. I'm surprised that I'm comfortable enough in my skin to write that. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to watch the last half-hour of "Milk".
I don't know if the Jets win the division easily if Sanchez improves, Steve, but if he turns into more than just a guy that stays out of the way they'll be as good as any team in the NFL. I really believe that.
If the Pats have any type of pass rush they are a 12-14 game winner. This offense should be better than last year with Brady having a full year under his belt from the knee injury. Maybe Kirk should put on the pads and try to cover an NFL receiver for more than 8 seconds. Ty Law in his prime would have looked bad last year. They are gonna put up some points but the D needs to step up and I think they'll get a healthy Mayo who wasn't the same after his knee injury and I think Cunningham and Spikes will contribute a bunch down the stretch. Pats 13-3.
A: I'll buy that Mayo could be a factor, but we know zippo about Cunningham and Spikes. Not fair to say that they'll be a difference. If eight people in New England saw Jermaine Cunningham play three defensive series in his college career I'd be stunned. So let's not act like he's part of the family, OK? No one watches college football in New England (look at the ratings) but everyone is an expert about these rookies. How does that work?
Again, a full year removed from the injury will help Brady, I agree. But will Welker be the same? How about Moss? Put it another way: Do you think this is a better offense than a year ago? I don't. Don't forget about the Mankins factor, either.
Why is everyone so convinced that Brady doesn't re-sign? The Patriots are waiting to see the Manning contract and the Bradford contract before they make an offer. This isn't Bledsoe here guys, Brady will get his. The media is creating a story that doesn't exist. I predict 14-2. The guys from last year step up in the defense and the offense will click with the new TE's and Welker, Moss, Holt and the new blood. By the way Minihane, BB is STILL the best coach in the league and Brady is STILL the best QB, i'll take them over Rex Ryan ( insert joke here ) and Mark (I'm the only SC QB NOT to win a title ) Sanchez.
A: I don't know, are we sure Brady re-signs? Why hasn't it happened yet? This seems to be cutting it kind of close. But I agree that it'll happen eventually. Brady isn't going to play somewhere else, and the Patriots don't want to lose him. He might not get Manning money (and he shouldn't- he's not in Manning's class at this point) but he'll get plenty paid.
I agree with you, Tommy, about Belichick. If I could have any coach in the league for this season he'd be my first pick by about 15 lengths. But I can't go with you on Brady. I'd rather have Manning and Brees for sure, and you could make case for Rodgers, Rivers and Romo. No shame in being a top-five QB, but he is not the best in the NFL.
I pretty much agree except for the Pats home game against the Jets. I think the Pats win and finish 11-5 along with the Jets but the Jets will have the better conference record and beat us out for the top spot. Also I do not see the Pats winning a playoff game. You need a solid defense to win playoff games and without, once again, a pass rush, you don't win playoff games.
A: Sorry to toss in this blast of rationality. Let us return to those that cannot live with the inevitable slide to the middle of the NFL.
Go Back to San Diego you LOSER. Another friggin negative media type here in Boston. The fans are so sick of the media negativity. I wish you would take CHB, F---er, Dennis, Borges (the un biased one). Ryan et al with you to SD and you could all just bury them and no one would care. Just leave (some guy that used to cover the Pats somewhere and now does it somewhere else)here, he is all we need to get real news about the PATS. Don't let the door hit you on the way out you jerk.
A: What's crazy is that I really thought I was being kind to the Pats by getting them to 10-6. I figured the "homer" comments and emails would be flying. I think they are a soft 10-6, much closer to 8-8 than 12-4. It wasn't a negative column at all, really. 10-6 and a road playoff win for this team would be a good season. I'm sorry, but that's where we are at.
I agree with all they pick except one -- we win Jets at NE game. Complete butt whoopin again in the playoffs, one and done. Hopefully the Faiders will lay a monster egg and we get a top 5 pick and probably Bill will trade down for value.
A: That might be the story of the 2010 season -- watching the Raiders. Jason Campbell is an upgrade from JaMarcus Russell (bigger bust than Ryan Leaf?) but I'm not sure he's the kind of player that makes you three or four games better. In fact I'm pretty sure he isn't. Let's take a quick look at the Raiders schedule and see what we've got:
Week 1: At Tennessee -- Loss (0-1)
Week 2: Home vs. Rams -- Win (1-1)
Week 3: At Arizona -- Loss (1-2)
Week 4: Home vs. Texans -- Loss (1-3)
Week 5: Home vs. Chargers -- Loss (1-4, haven't beaten the Chargers in the entire "Al Davis weighs less than 100 pounds" era)
Week 6: At 49ers -- Loss (1-5)
Week 7: At Broncos -- Loss (1-6)
Week 8: Home vs. Seahawks -- Win (2-6)
Week 9: Home vs. Chiefs -- Win (3-6)
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: At Steelers -- Loss (3-7)
Week 12: Home vs. Dolphins -- Win (4-7)
Week 13: At Chargers -- Loss (4-8)
Week 14: At Jacksonville -- Loss (4-9)
Week 15: Home vs. Denver -- Win (5-9)
Week 16: Home vs. Indy -- Loss (5-10)
Week 17: At Chiefs -- Win (6-10)
Does that strike anyone as unreasonable? Maybe a win better or worse, but you are looking at a top ten pick. Not sure if the Pats'll keep it, seems to me that Belichick is getting closer to his master plan of having every pick in the 2018 draft.
As a Bills fan I have to say you got it right about Ralph Wilson. It scares me that he's in charge of my franchise. I think the Bills will go 3-13 this season and win ZERO games in the AFC East. While I'm excited to see Spiller play it means nothing without a real QB.
Holden (formerly Buffalo)
A: Just because Ralph Wilson is 11 years older than Al Davis doesn't mean that he shouldn't be an active day-to-day figure in football operations. So Ralph was a junior in college when Al was in fourth grade. Means nothing.
But yeah, when your QB options are Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm the season is pretty much over before it begins. And those three guys are a combined 13 years younger than Ralph Wilson, in case you were wondering.
The schedule is brutal, but Brady will be two years removed from the injury and he won't be as timid as he was at times last year. Plus the offense was horrible in the 2nd half (Broncos, Jets game #1, at Dolphins, 4th qtr of Colts). With the new blood of TE's (Hernandez as a poor man's Dallas Clark, who can line up on the line or wide out, Gronkowski as a beast in the red zone) and Holt will be an upgrade over Galloway/Aiken/Stanback crap they had at No. 3 WR last year. The defense will be a bend but don't break defense, much like they have been the past two years, but the secondary will be better and that might help the pass rush. The LB's are young and Mayo should bounce back this year.
And the Jets made some fancy moves, but do you honestly trust Sanchez? He had the No. 1 run offense and No. 1 defense last year and still had 12 TD's and 20 INT's. He's no Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco. He only matters because he's in New York. He gets all the glory, despite being horrible most of the year. Their biggest question is at the most important position on the field...QB. And Tomlinson runs like he has crap in his pants, and he's not an upgrade over Jones. The Dolphins scare me more than the overrated Jets.
SoCal Pats Fan
A: This is what I mean. Why will the Pats secondary be better but Sanchez won't? Why is Tomlinson old but Holt an upgrade? And Aaron Hernandez -- who hasn't played Snap One in the NFL -- is already Dallas Clark?
'EEI needs to get rid of this guy! You suck pal.
A: OK, I guess I suck. Must have been someone else nominated for two WEEI.com awards last year. In fairness, one was for "Guy whose writing sucks the most", but they can't take away my "Champion of Punctuality" certificate.
This is a brave story and I respect the calls you made. I disagree on people saying that Brady will be as good as he ever was, it's reminiscent of the old Mike Ditka and 'da Beahs skits. This will be a season of change. Brady will come at this with the maturity of his new life and may not stand up and stand in like he may have in the past, but with his knee a year better, he may be just as good. The defense will be a little more integrated with maturing but young personnel but no gamebreakers here, still they should be improved. Where there needs to be improvement is in answering the Giants-Jets-Ravens nightmare of pressuring TB and wearing out the o-line early. I see BB having an answer to this, and hopefully its not a dumpoff screen to Kevin Faulk; we need Edelman and others to provide targets underneath and for there to be some distribution again. The Jets could step back, sophomore woes for an undersized underpowered QB and a restricted free agent period, aging pieces, and a one-horse trick defense, just don't throw it at Revis. The Ravens have some aging pieces on D too and not a whole lot of complexity on O, they don't scare me but they are a force that can be dealt with if we have fewer than 4 interceptions. The playoffs depend on TB and how we play. Stepbacks: SD, NYJ, GBP, BR... Wes Welker will not be significant, if he even plays, until midyear at the earliest.
A: Brave is the exact word I'd use as well, Dano. Projecting how a team will do over a 16-game schedule is the journalistic equivalent of coal mining. I might need a few months off to get away from the heat.
I don't see Brady as anything close to a problem this year. I get that he was shaky in a few big spots last year, but statistically he had the second-best season of any QB in franchise history. Not a lot of calls for Matt Cassel anymore, huh? The 2007 Brady is gone, but he'll be a Pro Bowl kind of player.
Hey all Pats' fans. Hate to tell ya- Brady's gone. Think about it. A new mansion in Brentwood; it's where he's from; his first son is there and the big reasons: Giselle doesn't like the cold, and gets more work on left coast than east. Fun while it lasted, but Brady's thinking bout No. 1 now, and they'll be no more hometown discounts. May get buried playing for 49ers, but he'll be home, warm and not getting bitched at by you-know-who!
A: No chance he leaves, Jimbo. Brady is Derek Jeter. He's protective of his image and knows that ditching Boston for LA will look terrible and shallow. He knows there is a perception that's he gone Hollywood and I'm sure he doesn't want to give that any credibility (not that the haircut isn't proof enough). Plus you don't think he's been paying attention to the LeBron stuff?