So, maybe they weren’t THAT good

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Isaac, Feb 7, 2008.

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  1. Isaac

    Isaac Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    We judge the quality of a team by winning and losing, and that’s a good thing, we have finality. If the ball bounces off the upright and in, our team is superior and has performed memorable feats. If it bounces out, then our team is inferior and the weaknesses glare. This is, of course, a dreadful measure of quality. The fact is that if teams play an even game, as they often do, then the teams are of about the same quality. That’s boring, but true. There are too many variables—injuries, chance, unique plays—to really say much else. I don’t discount that winning close games is a critical attribute for a team, and Belichick and his Patriots excel at this skill like few others, but still, if you play a very close game there’s limits to how much better you can really say you are than your opponent.

    Second, NFL teams fluctuate in the quality of their play during a season and often the best team down the stretch, the eventual champion, is not the best team during the season. It’s quite common—the 2007 season, 2006, 2005, 2003 (certainly early), 2002, 2001, … hell, it seems to be the general rule these days although we all ignore it in week 10 year after year. Whoever the consensus best team is in week 10 is unlikely to be the best team down the stretch. In the evaluation of playoff quality, Sept-Nov has little relevance.

    So, how good were the 2007 Patriots down the stretch? Well, if we use the flawed but emotionally satisfying analysis of winning or losing, they were great. But winning is a whimsical evaluative tool. Reviewing weeks 12-17:
    31-28 Eagles
    27-24 Ravens
    34-13 Steelers
    20-10 Jets
    28-7 Dolphins
    38-35 Giants

    ...think back through just these games—how good was this team? They looked pretty average in three or four of these six games, despite their magnificent accomplishments of pulling out the wins. Imagine how your opinion might have changed if, by relatively minor changes in history of little relevance to the overall quality of the Patriots, they had lost one or two of these games (or three).

    And so let’s take the playoffs—they looked pretty good against Jacksonville, for the most part, but all-time great? Against San Diego?

    So, what I’m thinking is that despite all the hoopla, and despite all our deep-seated desires to have our team be “Great”, maybe the 2007 Patriots team that went to Arizona just wasn’t THAT good. I mean, they were pretty damn good, hell they almost won a Super Bowl, but maybe they just weren’t this all-time great team that we wanted them to be, not during the stretch run of the season.

    Of course if they had won none of this would matter, and we’d pleasantly allow victory to rule our judgment. But they didn’t, and so it goes.

    I think this makes me feel a little better about the loss, somehow. I know I had a sinking feeling down the stretch, many of us probably did, in those close games against mediocre teams (Ravens, Eagles, Jets), against the Chargers, that this supposed all-time great team wasn’t quite acting that way anymore. The teams that are remembered as all-time greats, they steam-rolled down the stretch—check out the ’85 Bears playoff scores: 21-0, 24-0, 46-10. Maybe the Patriots just weren’t one of those teams, not this year, not down the stretch. And maybe it’s not that they choked or blew it, but that they just weren’t as good as the Giants, and they lost.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2008
  2. rabthepat

    rabthepat 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

    You make some great points...I think this also proves that sports are more random than we would like to think. I was concerned about teams just being lucky or it being their day when the Chargers beat the Colts without Rivers, LT and Gates. The did it in Indy. So why not the Giants over the Pats if they play their best and we play so so?
  3. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    Biggest problem I see with your thesis is this: you're forgetting, the other team is on sholarship too (to steal a quote from someone).

    Seriously--how many high school kids play football? How many play college ball? The NFL has 32 teams, 53 men to a team. That's about 1700 men total, out of the population of the US and a couple of other countries.

    In a game like football, emotion is huge. At the end of the season the Pats were playing well enough to win, and every team that was playing against them was trying their hardest to beat them. And in that stretch, they beat the Jets by 10, the Steelers by 14 and scored 20 something unanswered points to beat the Giants, once they got the records and started to relax.

    Then they beat the Jags and Chargers...and you're apparently not giving the Chargers any credit for being perhaps the second best team in the AFC, and a team that's matched up very well against the Pats.

    I'm not certain what they would've had to do to be a "great" team in your world.
  4. Julius

    Julius Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    After watching the game last night again I would agree. But really the Pats had that game won. Watching that last Giants drive was like watching destiny unfold. There was one play where Eli was scrambling and holding the ball out. AD just missed the timing or else he had a strip sack. Also the Giants benefitted from two first down measurements on that drive to stop the clock. Then we have Samuel's whiff on that interception. If he catches that like he caught similer throws this year we would be talking about the clutch Pats defense. The Pats defense kept them in this game with big plays until the end.
  5. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa Supporter Supporter

    Very poorly considered thesis.

    One says "My GOD they were great," if you have zero blowout games, and 16 wins.

    The blowouts of the early season just complement the wins.

    What marrs this team is, ultimately, and unexpectedly, they failed at the 19-0 run. And that's pretty much what we'll remember. That one big L.

    It's the Ws and Ls, not the scores. Unless your score is lower than the other guy's. But we have to expect these sorts of idiotic jumbled posts in the first week after a super bowl loss.

  6. Pats726

    Pats726 Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    We also must remember that NO team has come at all as close as the Patriots to being undefeated in over 3 decades...and the pressure to do that is a weight that is hard to understand...and I am talking about the last 2 months...the L will be what is remembered..although I think out of that negates an incredible season..and the fact is that despite ALL that happened in that game..if a few things did not's UNDEFEATED and the Giants lose..
    so I think saying they aren't that good..really misses the point.."not that Good" other team has EVER had 18 wins in a season..."not that good" is far far away from reality...
  7. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    You mean 18 straight, right? Bears and Niners both went 18-1...and won the SB.
  8. thebooradley

    thebooradley Rookie

    I disagree and think the OP makes a very valid point.

    It's like variance in poker, there will be runs where things go either for or against you far from the statistical norm. The Patriots were the beneficiaries of positive variance in getting to 18-0 (or in other words were lucky to a certain extent).

    They were not as good as 18-0 suggests, as in this era of supposed parity no team ever should be, and the 72 Dolphins were never really as good as 17-0 suggests. In the end the luck ran out for the Patriots mainly in the form of that one miracle reception, and that can happen in one game just like anything can happen in one hand of poker.

    I also think now that the pressure of keeping that run going was too much in the end and led to them being flat towards the end of the season. Instead of building momentum towards the end of the season as a lot of SB winners do they already had it, and the pressure placed on them to keep it going had a nagetive impact.
  9. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe Supporter Supporter

    #61 Jersey

    This is a good discussion, but I tend to agree with PasFanInVa. Considering the relatively minor differences between teams in the NFL from top to bottom, margin of victory doesn't matter as much as victory in and of itself. Suggesting that the pressure of keeping the run going proved too much at the end, that the team was "flat" emotionally, or was limited by a lack of "momentum," is pure conjecture with which I imagine BB and the players would take issue.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2008
  10. Pats726

    Pats726 Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    yes...of course..
  11. Poker

    Poker Practice Squad Player

    I agree with these thoughts and the OP's points as well. In actuality the Pats were not two touchdowns better than every team in the league, and certainly not all the playoff teams. I believe they were better than every team, and the poker analogy is a good one (obviously from my handle I like the analogy...) because it's not like chess where there is no luck involved, and the better player will win 100% of the time. Injuries, matchups, fluky plays, weird momentum shifts, and blown calls by refs can and do certainly affect the outcome of a single game just like a singe poker hand.

    What the poster is saying is this: suppose in the world of NFL parity/salary cap the Pats were a really top team, better than everyone. In most years, those kinds of teams win between 11 and 14 games out of 16 in the regular season. There really is no such thing as a huge upset at that level--the contestants are much closer than people. even pundits, see.

    Seeing those blowouts early in the season did not necessarily mean the Pats were suddenly 2-4 touchdowns better than other teams. I know it looked like it, and we all wanted to really believe that the Pats had created that kind of skill differential, but it probably wasn't there. This is especially true due to the nature of NFL games--A team who's really 7-10 points better than another team (if they played 100 times) gets on a roll, get ahead by two scores early, and then the other teams takes chances, turns the ball over, and next thing you know it's a gigantic blowout.

    We won all the close games in the back half of the season. Some were skill, some were some luck (Balt), some a mix. Based on our real skill levels against those teams, we were probably expected to win 6 out of those eight games if the half-season were repeated many times. So we outperformed this a little bit and ended up running the table...

    Look at is this way: Give all teams a score of 0-100 based on all their skill levels and attrributes for the season or any game. 0 means a team is so bad they can't win any game no matter what, 100 means they are so dominant they are guaranteed to win every game. In most years, the worst teams end up winning 3-4 out of 16 games and the best teams win 12-14 games. A lot are in the middle. So bad teams have a 25-30 rating, parity teams in the middle have a 50, and the playoff teams are 70-90. Now, what do you think the Pats were (intrinsically) in 2007? I estimate they were 90-95. What this means is that they were phenominally good and if this team played the season over and over again, you would expect them to win 14-15 regular season games. It makes sense that once every 20-30 years some excellent team just wins all of their close games and goes 16-0. It's going to happen again--because it's not that big a stretch when great teams routinely win 13-14.

    In the playoffs, you then had the Pats with their 90-95 score against the Giants with maybe a 70 score (.7 * 16 = 11 wins). Vegas may have made the Pats a 14 point favorite to balance the betting, but there's no way I believe the Pats were two touchdowns better than any playoff team, Giants included.

    This doesn't mean, by the way, that all the posters saying "but look at the actual game, they should have won!" or "If Woods secures the fumble, the OL protects a little better, Eli doesn't find a miracle, and we make a couple more stops on D, we easily win by 10+" are wrong. They are right. You can always look at any single close game that way, just like any single hand of poker.

    But here's the incorrect logical conclusion I think some are making: They are taking a single play, like the Eli to Tyree miracle catch, and assessing, accurately I believe, that that particular successful sequence will happen maybe 1 out of 20 times, and that the entire set of last drive events--non-interceptions, etc is maybe a 1 in 50 chance of happening. From that, alogn with being undefeated, they are concluding that the Pats were 10x better than the Giants and if the teams played 100 times the Pats would win maybe 85-95 times. Unfortunately, probably not the case in the NFL today, and not the case for any of the best all time teams.
  12. Isaac

    Isaac Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    PFnV, you have misunderstood my post in some respects. Further, calling it "idiotic" is uncalled for, we are all trying to figure out what happened, that is unnecessary.

    I didn't have a "thesis" or a "hypothesis" it was conjecture (thus the "maybe").

    More importantly, it's not the scores that I'm talking about, I'm not saying that a team needs to win in a blowout to be considered great. I'm saying watch the team play, how do they look? A team can look great in a close game (and even in a loss) and not look so great in a blowout win (though admittedly that's rare). Observing the 2007 Patriots from week 11 on and recognizing that their play was often average, well, somehow it makes more sense that they lose to the Giants.

    It doesn't mean it isn't still bitterly disappointing, but somehow I prefer that thought than one of this amazing unstoppable force that chokes in the end.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2008
  13. Isaac

    Isaac Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    Very interesting discussion folks, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
  14. IcyPatriot

    IcyPatriot ------------- Supporter

    #24 Jersey

    The final games of the season proved to me that we were not that good. I still thought we were one of the best teams ever, but not great enough to be put on a pedestal. We were good enough to 19-0 but there are some great defenses out there also.

    When I look back at the great Bears team and their great defense I see more than a few teams today whose defense is just as good. Teams will learn from what we did this year and some great O-Coordinator will take what we did and do it even better. In time, the greatness of the season will grow ... it will grow slowly.
  15. Palm Beach Pats Fan

    Palm Beach Pats Fan In the Starting Line-Up

    #12 Jersey

  16. richpats

    richpats Banned

    My theory is that we ran into some teams with experienced coaches down the stretch that were up to the challenge. This goes beyond the simple motivational factor, but strategically they were better prepared. Billick took his awful Ravens team with a BACKUP QB and nearly pulled the upset. Coughlin had his guys playing great in Week 17. Dungy had us on the ropes too. Andy Reid did a great job too with a BACKUP QB.

    Del Rio managed to keep even for a half. Turner could have beaten us with LT in red zone situations.

    Remember, Coughlin took the Jags into Denver 11 years ago and beat the best team in the league IN THEIR HOUSE. He also upset #1 Notre Dame in '93. This guy was no stranger to knocking off Goliath's.
  17. Satchboogie3

    Satchboogie3 In the Starting Line-Up

    This team WAS AMAZING during the regular season.

    The problem is that we had a bad game in the Superbowl (pressure maybe, IDK), while the Giants played the best game of their season. On top of that, the Giants got some HUGE breaks near the end of the game. We lost by 3 points when we played terribly (14 points for the greatest offense) and the ball wasn't bouncing our way. Yes we lost the SB, but I don't think the difference of Asante catching or dropping that INT makes the difference between good and amazing.
  18. rabthepat

    rabthepat 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

  19. NEPatriot

    NEPatriot Banned

    What will you react if i tell you that Pats did not want to win 07 SB.? Here are some facts:

    1-If you look at that game, Pats was NOT interested in leading the game by scoring. We basically waited to see what giants did. For example, pats scored a first TD after Giants field goal. After that, nothing happened. After Giants scored a TD, Pats responded with another TD with 6 drives. Why the hell did they not do something like that in previous quarter.? If Pats made a field goal in second and third Q, we would win but we didn't. Please do not tell me that Giant D was tired. If you played a hard football for 3 hours, everybody is tired.

    2-If you managed to hold your opponent to a field goal kick in 3 1/2 quarters, you should win a game if your O is like Pats' O. Don't you agree.?

    3-If you look at all 'close' games, you will see that Pats was ahead 10 points with a few minutes remaining to play OR Pats scored a TD with 2 mins left on the game.

    Perhaps, BB was tired of spygate BS and decided to let Giants WIN.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2008
  20. Satchboogie3

    Satchboogie3 In the Starting Line-Up

    There are only THREE things I am sure of in this world; taxes, death, and BB only care is winning.
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