By: Russ Goldman
On October 9th, I wrote a post called “Reverse The Curse Of Deion Branch”. At the time the Patriots had just traded Randy Moss and speculation was that the Patriots were interested in bringing back Deion Branch. The post was basically about how I felt the Patriots needed to fix a mistake they made four years prior by trading Branch to Seattle. I really thought at the time this was an opportunity for the Patriots to transition back to the “ball control” offense that Branch really flourished in.
I have been criticized for using the term “reverse the curse” in the title of my post. Some comments mentioned they were tired of this reference that was used so prevalent with the Red Sox. Looking back at it now I understand why fans would feel so strongly about my title. However, I felt the title was my way to express my point that the Patriots needed to “right the wrong”I felt they made with Branch. Since he left, the Patriots had a great deal of success, but had changed into a different type of offense and team. I thought by bringing back Branch, it would help the team become the “old school” Patriots once again.
So what has happened since my original post called “Reverse The Curse Of Deion Branch”?
Well, the Patriots did make the trade with Seattle for Branch giving up a fourth round draft pick for the wide receiver. Before the trade the Patriots record was 3-1. Since Branch became a Patriot, the team is 7-1 and an overall record of 10-2.
Obviously the trade is not the overall reason for the Patriots being 10-2, but Branch has become a valuable piece to the offense. He had an impact right away in his first game back with the club.
The Patriots played The Baltimore Ravens on October 17th. It took Branch some time to get involved in the offense, but he made several key catches to help the Patriots in a 23-20 overtime victory against the Ravens. He had 9 receptions for 98 yards and one touchdown. Not bad for being out of the system for 4 years.
Now, Branch’s overall numbers aren’t going to dazzle you. However, as we went deeper into the season when it has really counted, he has played a key role. For example, against the Colts he had 7 receptions for 71 yards, but it was a block that helped spring Danny Woodhead to a touchdown run that stands out for me.
How about against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day? He only had 3 receptions, but 2 were for touchdowns in the second half to help propel the Patriots to a victory.
How about against the Jets on Monday Night Football? Again he only had 3 receptions, but one catch was for a pivotal touchdown to help give the Patriots a significant lead in the first half. That touchdown pass was also on fourth down.
The real contribution of Branch has been his ability to just be a piece of the puzzle that is the Patriots offense. The offense is no longer focused on two wide receivers. This unit run by Brady is now all about finding the open man. I really feel this offense is more difficult to stop with Branch now, because Brady has so many options at his fingertips. The “Old School” Patriots offense has returned and Branch is a key contributor.
Now as I mentioned earlier his statistics are decent this season. Overall, he has 49 receptions for 609 yards and 5 touchdowns. With the Patriots in 8 games he has 36 receptions for 497 yards and 4 touchdowns.
If you are really concerned with stats I will give you two very important figures to look at. The New England Patriots are currently 1st in the NFL averaging 31.6 points per game. They also tie for the best record in football at 10-2.
So two months later after I first wrote my post about Branch much has happened, and their have been many positives with the New England Patriots. There was never a curse on the Patriots. There was only a major mistake I felt the club made four seasons ago.
Now with Branch back I see a team that reminds me of the Super Bowl Championship clubs he was a part of. Regardless of what happens the rest of the season I feel the Patriots are going in the right direction. Branch for me is a piece of the puzzle to help restore the Patriots to their “Old School” roots. It is now officially back to being about the “team”.