The grimace is due to the following injuries: back, forearm, wrist, groin…
NFL Opening Day 2013 should give every Patriots fan a reason to be concerned. Barely sneaking past a team you’ve historically owned, with a rookie QB making his NFL debut was a great way to prove all the critics right. Let’s compare some general football wisdom against rabid Pats fans’ logic as we look back on the 23 – 21 NE “victory.”
General Football Wisdom: You can’t replace your four top offensive targets and expect to keep winning. Losing Welker, Hernandez, Gronk and Branch will have an effect.
Rabid Pats Fan Logic: What? Brady makes receivers and we still got Brady. And we replaced the old and tired Welker with the younger, speedier Welker 2.0 (Danny Amendola).
Reality Check: Amendola has played 60% of the games in the last two seasons. He played just over 60% of the week one game. Brady did not make stars out of Thompkins, Boyce or even Sudfeld. In fact, Brady only completed 55% of his passes. Note that the rookie, EJ Manuel, completed 66% of his passes.
The Upshot: When he was on the field, Amendola looked good and came up big when it mattered. But you still can’t count on him to actually be on the field. Edelman looked more like Welker 1.1, but that might be enough, especially with a decent running attack.
Which brings us to the next point.
General Football Wisdom: Stevan Ridley is a good runner, but he has a history of fumbling.
Rabid Pats Fan Logic: Ridley is awesome. It’s his year to blossom. Plus we got Vereen, Blount and Boldin. This backfield will dominate.
Reality Check: Ridley fumbled (he wasn’t even touched by a defensive player) and Vereen is lost indefinitely with a wrist injury that requires surgery.
The Upshot: Big time offensive problems loom for New England. A marginal receiving core, a fumble-prone backfield sans the dual-threat in Shane Vereen, and the possible loss of a great blocking TE in Sudfeld (pulled hammy) should see the boys average under 20 PPG over the next few weeks, which means the D needs to man up.
Ah, the defense.
General Football Wisdom: New England added some pass rushing and finally has quality coverage in the secondary.
Rabid Pats Fan Logic: These guys are seasoned, now. Besides, our turnover ratio is other-worldly. Ain’t nuthin’ to worry ‘bout here.
Reality Check: These guys still can’t stop Old Man Jackson. They gave him 67 rushing yards plus an additional 41 receiving yards. He continues to own the Patriots (remember 80 rushing and 60 receiving yards last year? How about 74 and 87 two years ago?). Plus they completely failed to pressure a rookie QB. Zero sacks. Deflating.
The Upshot: They did create some turnovers and Fred Jackson only plays for the Bills. The secondary did a decent job, but sadly they still can’t find a way to knock around the quarterback. These guys don’t look that seasoned (or talented).
A Quick Anecdote
Settling in to watch the game, I ran into a fellow com-Patriot. I asked, “You worried about this game?”
His response, “Nah, we got this in the bag. It’s Buffalo.”
I noticed he was gone by halftime.
How It’s Gonna Go Down In 2013
Unlike that football sage Peter King, who has the Patriots winning the Super Bowl (the new MMQB project must be monopolizing his brain cells), I predicted the Patriots to reach 10 wins based solely on the fact that they play in the AFC East. After the Week 1 performance, I’m not even sure that’s a benefit. I also have them losing in the first round of the playoffs to whomever they draw.
This week against the Jets—short week, minus two more offensive weapons—the Patriots are in real danger of losing this game. I think they win 17 – 14, but could easily see it going 19 – 17 for the Jets. Ultimately, the Pats have to hold the Jets under 20 points to win this game.
Seriously, unless everyone stays healthy from here on out and Gronk actually plays through the playoffs, this team is one and done.
But, hey, at least we’re not the Steelers.