.....WOW!. I just feel the need to ramble.
I was totally emotionally unprepared to lose the Jet game....and I greatly appreciated the fact that I didn't even have to have a single stressful minute after the first quarter. Conversely, for some reason, I would have been fairly comfortable if we happened to have lost vs Chicago. It was an away game, against a hot team, on a short week, in a horrible environment, and weather conditions that seem ill suited to our game. So given it was a non-conference game and all those disadvantages, if the defense looked somewhat improved and we came out healthy, I wouldn't have LIKED it, but I could have dealt with a loss. After all, weren't we still in our development phase? Ups and downs are to be considered part of the curriculum. aren't they?. See how little I understood.
C'mom, be honest. How many of you were disappointed the Pats got the ball first. How many were stunned when Brady lined up in the shot gun, and Woodhead motioned into the empty backfield. C'mon, raise your hand if you didn't mutter WTF or something equally provocative under your breath when Brady came out firing like they were playing in a freakin' dome, instead of a blizzard with 50mph wind gusts.
I don't know about you guys, but I learned a LOT about our NE Patriots after this game, and not just that they are (at this point) a true contender for the whole ball of wax.
1. You don't just 'sip the koolaid" when dealing with BB, you drink the whole blessed pitcher....at once. His coaching and development of this team this season has been nothing short of Brilliant. There isn't another coach/GM that could have pulled off this kind of transition, not only from 2009 to 2010, but the one they had to make from September to December.
Think about the things he has had to deal with. The losses of Ty Warren and Leigh Boddin to start the season. The losses of Kevin Faulk and Randy Moss AFTER the season started. He had to deal with the Mankins hold out and then...when he finally comes back, he has to deal with the loss of Neal. He has had more players come in and out of "final" 53 man roster than seems humanly possible. I mean our roster looks like a freakin CLOWN CAR. It looks small, but players seem to come out of it in endless quantities, from Danny Woodhead to Erick Moore. When ***** happens he seems to find a guy and they produce.
2. This team IS very young, but it has tremendous mental toughness. Its the ONLY way to explain the lack of turn overs and penalties, which have been the key to our success. Isn't common wisdom that young inexperienced teams make the MOST mistakes? Evidently not when they are coached well.
3, Back in the superbowl days, one of Scott Pioli's favorite sayings was that. "the Patriots aren't looking collect talent. They are looking to build a championship TEAM (and I could be paraphrasing here, but you get the idea) And boy is that concept clear this year.
While we sometimes forget it, but every player good enough to be in the NFL, is a great football player....and that includes the guys at the end of the roster. In fact I would opine that probably 90% of the rosters are pretty much interchangeable.
What makes the 11-2 Pats that much different from the 2-11 Bengals? Mostly its just 2 reasons. BB and his system, and Tom Brady. If you have an elite QB you can elevate the rest of your team. If you have the right HC, he can improve the play of your players over the course of the season. Improve them to the point where at this point of the season that ARE better than teams who might have been better just a couple of months before.
All those players need is the belief in the coach and system, their desire and willingness to be coached and the desperate need to win. Put that all together and you know what you have......The New England Patriots Back in week 2 the Jets WERE the better team...they certainly aren't now....and that says a lot about the 2 styles in which both teams were put together.
You see that is the beautiful thing about this team. I was very concerned about the effects of the weather. BB got his team NOT TO BE. Yes they took it into affect, but they didn't let the weather control them. While I was concerned that the weather would effect the passing game, the Pats looked at it and said, "if its snowin', we're throwin'"
Maybe the reason the rookies aren't making mistakes is that BB doesn't give them that option. By this time of the season he doesn't EXPECT them to make rookie mistakes....and thus they don't. Its the simple law of expectations It seems so simple, but you'd be surprised how often its ignored.
Since I'm rambling I'll tell this small anecdote: When I started teaching it was in a JrHS in Dorchester. It was prebusing and all my kids were black. The school was a mess, and I worked with 2 other teachers to restructure the curriculum. To make a long story short, within 3 years we went from one incident from bing on the front page to sending more kids per capita to the 2 city exam schools (college prep) than any JrHigh in the city.
The NAACP held their convention that year in Boston, and we were asked to speak to their education committee. They wanted to know what we were doing than made our "inner city" school so successful academically. I explained to them it was simple. We had high expectations for out kids.....and they met them. We didn't dumb it down, we wouldn't let them get away with anything less than their best, and we got them to believe that we believed in them. The law of high expectations.
So while I have forgotten this valuable lesson, clearly BB has not, and its shown. And as Brady so eloquently stated (and I paraphrase) "the coach doesn't let us worry about the weather, the refs, or the crowd, all we have to do is worry about playing the Bears...and JUST the Bears. That is the kind of focus that explains why the Pats have lost almost as as many players as teams like the Colts and Steelers, yet you never hear injuries as a factor when the media is talking about the Pats. Other teams have to OVERCOME injuries, the Pats simply deal with them....and move on. The next guys just steps up and is expected to perform. The law of high expectations.
OK I've philosophized enough, just one more pont. I was thinking about why this offense has been so successful, even more successful over the end of the season than the 2007 offense. One might argue in 2007 the team was staggering to its undefeated season with a number of close wins at the end of the season, while this team seems to be peaking at the end.
Well I was wondering about what it was that made this offense so good. I came on this thought. Multiple formations/Multiple personnel groups. Think about it. BB has this team capable of running in tons of people. Like in the Bears game, we opened with an empty backfield, and the very next play was in 3 TEs. In the past you might see this kind of change series to series or running down to passing down. But with the Pats you will see massive personnel changes from play to play....and seemingly in no particular order. This is very hard on the defense.
Think about it, you break your defensive huddle and be faced with a completely different personnel package. You then have about 10 seconds to recognize it and get your players in position, trying to match the personnel. I think a lot of times they get teams caught in player mismatches. The bad news is that you need a QB who can find those mismatches and get his team in the right play. The good news is we have one.
Next time you watch a game look for all those CONSTANT personnel shifts and look at the defenses trying to keep up. BB also is doing the same thing on defense, which is why you are starting to see more and more teams using a no huddle in an effort to limit BB's substitutions.
My favorite quote of the week came from Curran's article, from Alge Crumpler, whose obvious wisdom is going to make him one of my all time Patriots in a single year.
"As long as we stay focused on our task and don't worry about anything that's said or written outside, that's all we worry about," said Crumpler. "Our only source is the Bill Belichick Times."
Belichick clearly has found 53 loyal subscribers.
If this is what a grizzled vet thinks, that's all you need to know about how the rest of the team feels about their HC. The media WAS in love with Rex and his style, but you need more substance to get your players to "love" past the first stretch of adversity....as Jet fans are now finding out.