Are we about ready to kick things off? Of course we are. Fall Sundays are made for football and in New England that’s the Patriots. The bunch beloved by Bostonians of all ages. Except for cranky columnists looking to stir the pot prior to the season’s start.
As "cranky columnist" could cover any fifty bile-spitting, ink-stained wretches in the greater Boston area, not to mentions dozen on bellicose radio talkers and callers, it’s best to specify the particular offender. This charming ne’er write well goes by the nickname of "Curly Haired Boyfriend", a moniker coined by Crazy Carl Everett ten summers ago.
Admittedly, Dan Shaughnessy’s shot at Everett (Jurassic Carl, which may have influenced USS Mariner’s C-Rex nickname, another stellar derisive dig) was among his better. Those clever quips are rarely present these days, and Shaughnessy’s shots are of the pre-programmed mailed-in variety.
The Patriots are the Nixon White House of sports. They see demons everywhere. They bash dissent, deny the obvious, and rely on a silent majority of loyalists (including some credentialed media) to pledge allegiance.Indeed, the Patriots are as tight lipped a bunch as you can imagine. They hate disclosing information that could be used against them, because, obviously, the information other teams disclose is sprinkled into the Patriots game plan to be used against them.
The Patriots have a Kremlinesque video camera trained on the assembled media during Bill Belichick’s press conferences. (Think they’d send me a highlight tape of myself eating cookies and asking keen questions over the last 10 years?) I’ve always wondered whether there is some in-house lackey responsible for logging the tapes and identifying enemies.
But the kicker is the not so veiled accusation that some members of the press corps are in on it.
Great Googly Moogly! Shaughnessy, you’ve done it, again!
That’s why the secrets don’t get out, because Bill Belichick is the trusting sort of chap who lets people - who’s job it is to tell the whole wide world other people’s secrets - in on his secrets because they pinky swore to him that he was special and they would never, ever tell anyone else.
So then, who’s in on the fix:
Well, let’s see, obviously, Shaughnessy’s colleagues at the Globe have to be among Belichick’s inner circle. Because they snicker as they walk by Shaughnessy’s desk in the newsroom. And he can tell they know. Just like that time they stole his strawberries.
And Ron Borges over at the Herald knows. The whole hatred of Belichick and all-things Patriot specific is just a front, a cover to keep everyone from figuring his deep in Darth Bill’s Sith spell.
The local TV guys are in on it, because they all saw what happened to ESPN after Tom Jackson went off the reservation, so they all play by Bill’s rules.
So really, it’s everyone but Shaughnessy who in on it.
In the interest of full-disclosure, neither Joe Tetreault, nor any other members of The Foxboro Blog have ever covered up the secrets of the New England Patriots, its players, or those of any other professional team. That’s our story and you can best your ass we’re sticking to it.
Joe Tetreault, a contritbutor to Foxboro Blog, wears many hats in his work with the Bloguin Network. Most notably, Joe is the lead blogger at Tetreaultvision, where you can read the majority of his daily content.no comments
As we await the season kickoff against Cincinnati this Sunday, here are some key things to look for during the game, as well as a score prediction.
#1 - The Patriots' young cornerback duo vs. the Bengals' veteran receivers
With the loss of veteran Leigh Bodden to injured reserve, the Patriots will now field the league's youngest starting duo at cornerback. 1st round pick Devin McCourty and sophomore Darius Butler will get thrown into the fire quickly, as Cincy boasts some serious veteran experience in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. I expect that McCourty and Butler will get plenty of help via safties Brandon Merriweather and Patrick Chung, but if the youngsters find themselves exposed on a regular basis, it could be the start of a very long season.
#2 - Who fills the void at outside linebacker?
The surprising release of veteran Derrick Burgess has opened up a big hole for the Patriots at outside linebacker. Fill-ins, Rob Ninkovich, Marquis Murrell, and Jermaine Cunningham have a combined zero NFL starts among them. One of them will get their first opportunity Sunday. One of the biggest flaws of the Patriots last season was their inability to get a consistent pass rush going. It's going to take one of those three to step up if the Patriots are going to avoid a repeat performance in 2010.
#3 - Wes Welker's recovery
Nobody expected Wes Welker to be playing this week, but Wes decided to go all Wolverine on us and show off his mutant healing powers. Welker looked good in the preseason, but the real test will come when he plays his first regular season game. If Wes is even at 90% of his normal capacity, the Patriots offense has the chance to be scary good.
#4 - Tight End play
In 2009, the Patriots tight end contributions were nearly non-existent. Belichick reloaded in the draft and rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez appear to be big-time hits. Last year the Patriots did a great job of moving down the field, but had an awful tendency to stall out in the red zone. Having some sturdier targets to duke it out in the endzone in addition to the regular Moss/Welker combo, should be a big asset for Brady. I think we're going to see a much more effective offense this season because of it.
#5 - The kicking game
Rookie punter, Zoltan Mesko may end up paying huge dividends for the Patriots if he can successfully influence the field position game. He'll also be holding for kicker Stephen Gostkowski, which is a big and potentially game-altering change. The normally dead-on Gostkowski may struggle early as he makes adjustments to this new routine. Games are so often won and last due to small things on special teams. It will be interesting to see what effect this new kicker/punter dynamic has on the Patriots.
Prediction: Patriots 35, Bengals 27
The 60's Packers, the 70's Steelers, the 80's Niners, the 90's Cowboys, the 00's Patriots. Their times have come and gone. A new decade has dawned, waiting for that one team to leave their indellible stamp upon it. As the 2010 season kicks off for the New England Patriots on Sunday, the 53 men in uniform will look almost nothing like the legends who carved their name in history books during the team's storied run. Sure, Bill Belichick will still be wearing the headset, and Tom Brady will still be throwing the football. Kevin Faulk, Matt Light, Randy Moss, Vince Wilfork, and Wes Welker will be there as well. But by and large, the majority of this Patriots' squad knows nothing of the franchise's three Super Bowls, let alone the 18-1 season of three years ago.
When the Patriots were racking up titles and winning game after game, I kept reminding myself that those days wouldn't last forever. I made sure to "enjoy it now", because tomorrow was coming all too soon. Well, today is "tomorrow". For the fist time since Drew Bledsoe was our starting quarterback, I'm entering a Patriots season with zero expectations of a Super Bowl run. That isn't to say that I expected the Patriots to win every single year, but I always liked our chances. This year, I don't know what to expect. Gone are the wiley veterans like Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Troy Brown, Willie McGinnest, and Mike Vrabel. In their place stands veritable unknowns like Brandon Spikes, Patrick Chung, Brandon Tate, Rob Gronkowski, and Devin McCourty. I trust Belichick and Brady inherently, but part of me feels like I'm about to take a swan dive off a bridge with this team, unsure if my bungee cord is actually tied onto something.
In some ways, the unknown is a bit refreshing. For the first time in a long time, I think I'll be able to watch games without my stomach tied up in knots. After all, the massive Super Bowl pressures have been somewhat alleviated. On the flip side, after coming so close in 2006 and 2007 and losing Brady in 2008 when the Patriots were primed to make another run at the title, I've still got a deep hunger to see this team succeed. The thought that the window may be shut this season, is also bit depressing.
Yet in spite off all the uncertainty and the questions, I do know this: Bill Belichick is re-creating something special in Foxboro. The Patriots have drafted 12 players in each of the last two drafts. They have a raw, but talented young nucleus. They hold two more 1st round picks, and two more 2nd rounders in 2011. The have the league's best coach. The have an unquestionable Top 3 quarterback with a tremendous fire in his belly. No matter what happens this season, the Patriots are in serious position to be the first team to place a second stamp on a decade. They are renewing. The are reloading. They are regenerating.
It may take two or three years. It may take one. And maybe, just maybe, this new team will grow like a wild fire and claim the title this year, sooner than anyone could have expected. Regardless, the fact remains that Patriots football has once again returned. Our decade is over, and a new one has begun. I, for one, can't wait to what's in store as we turn the page to this next chapter.
Click "Read More" Below to view my 2010 Predictions
Reports are coming from Boston area news stations that Tom Brady was involved in a two-car accident at around 6:15am this morning. According to those sources, Brady was apparrently "pretty banged up". However, his injuries are likely somewhat limited as he refused medical attention at the scene, preferring to be seen by the doctors at the Patriots' training facility.
For starters, I want to say that I'm thankful that Brady appears to be in reasonably good shape following this incident. This certainly doesn't appear to be a life-threatening collision. However, it's still not clear if he sustained any injuries that would preclude him from participating in Sunday's game.
I'm sure word of this will spread like wildfire, so you can probably find updates at places other than Foxboro Blog, but I will keep the situation updated as more reports surface.
*** Update - All accounts are that Tom Brady is uninjured from the accident and attended practice as usual today with the team.
As we head to the regular season, we're continuing our preseason tradition of holding Q&A sessions with bloggers who cover the Patriots' upcoming opponent. Three-Way Chili is an awesome Cincinatti sports blog that's been part of Bloguin for nearly a year now. I asked the site's lead writer, Dave Biddle, a series of questions about the Bengals, and he, in turn, asked me a few about the Pats. His responses are below, followed by a link to Foxboro Blog's Q&A session on Three-Way Chili.
Owens was able to keep his nose clean during the dumpster fire that was the Buffalo Bills’ 2009 season, so I think he’ll be somewhat of a model citizen this year … at least for his standards. The Bengals are a solid team and he’s got a quarterback in Carson Palmer that can make all the throws. T.O.’s friendship with Ochocinco also helps the situation because they appear more focused on winning than trying to put up outlandish statistics. (It was T.O. himself who said he knew he had no chance at reaching the final $1 million of his incentives.)
2. What are you the most excited about heading into the 2010 season?
As for Bratkowski’s ability to coordinate an offense, opposing defenses figured him out long ago and he appears to be far too predictable at times. It will be interesting to see if anything changes this year, but at least this one Bengal fan is skeptical about it.
I think they’ll be 10-6, perhaps 11-5. I found it interesting that the over/under according to Vegas was 9.5 regular-season wins for the Patriots and I quickly gobbled up the over. I think they’ll at least go 10-6 and have the chance to do better than that. I envision a big year for Tom Brady, especially if Wes Welker is back close to full strength. They still have Randy Moss as the big-play threat and Julian Edelman provides good insurance if Welker isn’t ready to go. A big question mark is at the running back position, but I think New England will get a lot of production out of the position and that’s the bottom line. The only issue is who will get the most touches and it’s likely to be Laurence Maroney who has never truly won over Bill Belichick. Could this be the year? They also have Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and third-down specialist Kevin Faulk.
The Patriots’ defense will be solid and they always play the Bengals well. I think this will be a good ballgame, but Bengal mistakes and good execution by the Patriots late in the game will lead the home team to victory. 27-17 Patriots.
Tom Brady lit up the quote machine today. Here's some excerpts...
On the Jets...
"That’s the way that they think they need to be, and it’s really the exact opposite of the way we are. And I have a lot of confidence in the way we do things here. And I’m sure they probably have a lot of confidence in the way they do things. I think that’s what makes for the rivalry. They believe in something, and we believe in something, and they’re pretty much exact opposites. I know what we do is, I think we just try to stay humble, stay working every day, and let our play do the talking. Because really, that’s all that matters anyways."
On the lack of love for the Patriots in the media...
"When you’re sitting there and they're picking everybody else it gets you kind of fired up. Last night when I’m watching I’m going ‘Oh really is that really what you think?’ then you think about standing up on the victory stand at the end of the year proving everybody wrong about picking other teams. That is a bit of a motivator."
On his contract...
“The reality is I have a job to do and my job isn’t revolved around worrying about what my future is right now. My job is to be the best leader for this team that I can be, and really to get ready to play the Bengals, and play really well. Because of that, I think it's pretty selfish if I sit here and that's all I'm worried about -- mysel. I love the Patriots, I love the organization, what Mr. Kraft has done for me and my family over the years, I’m always grateful. To play for coach Belichick, there is no coach I’d rather play for. That’s how I felt, that’s how I’ll feel today, tomorrow, Sunday, the following week, for as long as I ever am playing, and beyond my playing years I’ll be grateful for what I have here."
And on a lighter note, here's Bill Belichick's response to whether or not he follows Chad Ochocinco on Twitter...
"I don’t do Twitter, My Face, or any of that stuff."
Up until this morning, I was really proud of Randy Moss. Entering the final year of his contract, we hadn't heard a peep out of the normally boisterous wide receiver. There was no threats of a holdout, no complaints, no drama. If anything, Moss seemed more focused than ever, intent on putting up a tremendous season to earn his final big payday.
Yes, there were the comments this off-season of how "the Patriots don't really pay" and how he was doubtful the team would re-sign him, but those remarks seemed off-the-cuff and not calculated. Randy was just speaking frankly, and frankly, he knows this league is a business and that both him and the Patriots were going to do what they had to do when his contract was up. The comments were something that was probably better left unsaid, but I didn't see any alterior motive behind it.
This morning was an entirely different affair. Moss changed his tone and is now complaining that he doesn't feel "wanted" by New England. Suddenly, with those words, what was once "business" has become personal.
Heading into this off-season, there was a clearly defined pecking order of how the Patriots were going to handle their pending free-agents. Priority #1 - Vince Wilfork, whose contract had expired. Priority #2 - Brady, who had one year left on his deal. Priority #3 - Logan Mankins, who would have been a free-agent had the CBA not expired. Priority #4 - Moss, who also had one year left on his deal, but is clearly not on the level of Brady. Perhaps being Priority #4 didn't sit very well with Moss, but given the makeup of this team, his contract, and his age, I don't see how Randy could argue that he should be any higher. With Priorities #2 and #3 still largely unresolved, I also don't see how Randy thinks it's his turn to sit down at the table.
The Patriots were a fractured locker room last season. This year, they seemed to be coming together. The team is full of young players looking to the veterans like Moss for leadership, so to have something like this come out five days before the opener against Cincy is more than a little discouraging. Here's hoping that Randy Moss continues the trend of saying something stupid only once every six months. If not, we could be in for another long season...