October 22, 2008
How Much Water Can Be Wrung Out Of The Patriots Towel?
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Somewhere between the couch and the bed last Sunday night, I concluded that the 2008 Boston Red Sox had squeezed as much water out of their wet towel as they could have. There was no shame in losing to the Rays fair-and-square in Game 7 of the ALCS. They battled injuries, setbacks and really good teams throughout the year.
And when the 2008 Patriots season concludes (perhaps sometime in January), the same thought will likely cross my mind on the way down the hallway.
There's nothing wrong with that. Like I wrote when Tom Brady went down on opening day, 10-6 might be a lot of fun in a surprising way. Sure, there will be a lot of maddening moments like the San Diego sleepwalk or the Miami Wildcat fiasco. But when it's all over, your bookmark for the season will be the surprising moments like a 41-7 throttling of the Broncos last Monday night. Perspective is the best set of glasses you can buy when watching sports.
Too often, we look for instant result or pass judgement too quickly. Most of us have all been guilty of that so far in 2008 with this team. But with a third of the season behind us, we can start drawing a few conclusions as we get into the gut of the season.
Topic A is, of course, Matt Cassel. We have seen a maddening Tony Eason-like ability to squeeze a sack out of thin air on a number of occasions. There's been a little bit of timidness and some fire drill scrambling tactics. But really, through the first six games of his career he hasn't embarassed himself or the organization. There haven't been as many up-for-grabs balls thrown into the secondary as I had planned on. And as the season wears on, the optimist in me believes that the guy is going to continue to gain composure and competence. In short, the feeling from this corner is that Cassel hasn't topped out as a quarterback. My guess is that Wes Welker and Randy Moss feel the same way based on the way the three of them shared a bench late in the fourth quarter last Monday night.
This is one of those seasons, like the Super Bowl-winning 2003 one, where injuries happen at an eye-rolling clip. First Tom Brady, then Laurence Maroney and now Rodney Harrison and it's only week eight of the season. A 10-6 season with a playoff win or two would solidify Bill Belichick's legacy as the greatest coach of his time. Such a year would have to be up there with the Super Bowl wins. The trick up his sleeve against the Broncos was simple. Just have fun and be there for one another after a big play. Expertly simplistic.
We also saw the defense gain a little bit of an attitude thanks to classic Patriot forced turnovers on their side of the field on two occasions in the first half against Denver. Before 2007, you may recall this was one of the more prevalent ways the Patriots earned their lunch money. Nice to have you back, old friend.
We are entering a telling time of the season with the next four games against the Rams, Colts, Dolphins, and Jets. By my mid-November birthday, we will know just what we have in this team. And as you know, the Patriots in this decade have historically picked up steam from that time of the year until the end of the season. And with things in the NFL so wide-open this season, who's to say what could happen? It makes for more interesting viewing. No more ho-hum 16-0 regular seasons for us, chummy.
Sure, you can call me a weathervane. After the San Diego game, I was in the dumps with the rest of you. I even gave myself a bye week from this column because I really didn't have a hell of a lot to say. Now, I'm all optimistic after the Broncos throttling.
As the book on this season reaches later chapters, it will fascinating to see how much water gets squeezed out of that towel.
I'm willing to bet you are going to be pleased at the amount that puddles on your bathroom floor.
Idle Zinger thoughts while finally convincing Mr. Blue after all these years to march down to Sesame Street District Court and take out a restraining order against Grover:
Paging Mr. Matt Walsh. Mr. Walsh, this is the St. Louis Rams. You are needed for an honorary Rams captainship on Sunday.
Yes, I am becoming one of them. It was so shocking that my brother said "I'm going to pretend I never heard that." IIt was becoming a Dave Matthews Band kinda guy.
Speaking of Brother Brian, the band he hangs with, Big Lick, will be making their triumphant return to the stage opening up for Big D and the Kids Table at the Middle East in Cambridge on Halloween. If you are in the area, check it out. You won't be disappointed.
Lastly, I want to bring to your attention a cause that is taking shape here in central Maine. I try to entertain you with these columns and every now and then make you laugh. This topic is pretty serious. Take a read of this article from the Kennebec Journal and see if you can dig in your pocket for a few bucks to make this Make-A-Wish dream come true for a local high school football player, Ricky Gibson, who is facing a life-threatening illness. His dream is not to go to Disneyworld or to meet Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Rather it is to have a football field for the Maranacook Black Bears that has lights and is halfway decent to play on. In Travis Lazarcyk's beautiful column, Ricky said "My football team is kind of like another family," Ricky, a 15-year old sophomore, said. "In a way it keeps me out of trouble and my grades up. Everyone always has my back and it's just been the thing I look forward to going to school for." I'll be digging in my pocket and you should too. The address to send a check is Maranacook Football, Inc., P.O. Box 711, Manchester, ME 04351.
Site-specific editorial/photos Copyright 2001-2004 PatsFans.com. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.