I've waited a long time for this one. Even Bill Simmons has seen the light on the 2009 Pats.
There are so many wonderful passages in this article, that I want to savor every single one. Like say, this one:
I'm not sure if the 2009 Colts are any good. It's up for debate. Still, they have Manning, so for moments like the one on Monday night -- Miami playing it safe in a tie game with four minutes to play, going with a lame inside draw on third-and-6 and settling for a field goal -- anyone who followed football even a little this decade muttered to themselves, "That's a huge mistake, Manning will make them pay." And he did. The guy many people (including me) once questioned in crunch time has turned into the league's premier assassin. He gives them their swagger. Single-handedly.
For the record, I agree with him about the 2009 Colts. We saw it last year. Manning covers up everything else. That can take you a long way, just not all the way...but I digress. Here's the truth about 18: he's always been that guy. He led SIX 4th quarter comebacks his second year in the league. The Colts' problems were never really Manning's fault. It just took everyone a decade to figure that out. Now he's playing at a truly transcendent level, and even the playoff losses were so undeniably his fault (what? He only threw for 400 yards? How dare he choke like that!) that even Simmons has finally figured it out.
There's so much more to love here:
The next three drafts looked worse than they actually were because they lost the Spygate pick (No. 32 in 2008) and dealt two picks for Wes Welker and Randy Moss, but from 2007-09, only Mayo has emerged as an impact player, and only three current starters (Gostkowski, Mayo and Brandon Meriweather) came from the last four Patriots drafts (even though the team had three firsts, six seconds and five thirds over that time). When seventh-rounder Julian Edelman emerged as Welker Jr. this summer, I remember being shocked that we finally struck pay dirt with a non-first-rounder. Not a good sign.
Did Belichick lose his touch, or has it just been a prolonged cold streak? Like with so many other teams, you could play the "damn, we could have had so-and-so" game with every Pats draft from 2005 to 2009 -- Frank Gore, Justin Tuck, Santonio Holmes, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jon Beason, Steve Slaton, etc. (it's a long list) -- but Belichick's Patriots were never "like so many other teams." It's a little sobering. The last few years, he's been drafting by need instead of just taking the best players, which he never used to do. And he spends so much time flipping picks that I reached the "can't we just stand pat and take the best guy?" point two years ago. Just this spring, instead of moving up 2-3 spots to grab game-breaker Percy Harvin or just taking tackle Michael Oher at No. 23 (now a staple of Baltimore's excellent offensive line), the Patriots traded down twice, picking up a second and two thirds (none of whom are starting). Quantity over quality yet again.
I've been SCREAMING THIS for two and a half years now. The Pats just haven't been drafting well. Oh, but there's more. So, so much more...
Undeniable Truth No. 4: In retrospect, it sure seems like the Football Karma Gods weren't a huge fan of Spygate.
I will now gargle with hydrochloric acid. Let's move on.
Hee hee. It makes me so happy. Actually, it's not Spygate. It's the score running up they did that season. They pissed on all the other teams around them (especially the AFC East) and made everyone hate them. Teams are going to enjoy kicking them hard and often for a long time. Everyone hates them.
For the second camp, it's more complicated. You wouldn't call them naysayers, just realists. And here's the reality: Today's NFL isn't built for teams to succeed year after year indefinitely. Extending the Malibu analogy, a good foundation only lasts so long. You still need to take care of your house. Need to wash the salt off your deck every day, update the furniture, keep a fresh coat of paint on there, check that foundation every few months to make sure it's fine. You cannot slip. You cannot fall behind. You cannot take anything for granted. Or else your house will start to look like crap.
I relate to this because we are realists here at 18to88.com. We are never happy with just winning and hoping everything will be ok. We want the team to play as well as possible. Even today, we've been called 'negative' for being honest and realistic.
The truth about the Pats is that virtually every charge people leveled against Indianapolis (too much change on the coaching staff, key foundational veteran moving on, injury concerns) applied better to New England than the Colts, yet somehow the Don Banks of the world were convinced New England was a beast and the Colts were finished. Indy has the second youngest team in football. The Pats have second oldest. The Pats have had nothing but front office upheaval, switching out the GM, coaches and coordinators. Our franchise QB had minor knee surgery over a year ago and already came back to win an MVP award. Theirs had massive reconstruction and hadn't seen the field. We lost one WR who had been essentially absent for two years; they lost 6 starters from the defense from a Super Bowl played last year. Indy won a Super Bowl title just two years ago, but the Pats haven't won in 5. Maybe the 'closed window' shoe fits Indy, maybe it doesn't, but it was freaking cobbled tailor-made for the Patriots.
It's fine for someone to doubt the 2009 Colts. There are reasons to doubt for sure. But whatever those reasons, there are those and then some to believe the Pats' best days are behind them. If they aren't, it's only for one reason: they still have Randy Moss. He can make miracles happen. Of course, he's never been on a Super Bowl winner either...
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go enjoy that article again.