Your wife tells you that you’ve been looking happier these last couple of weeks. You’re smiling a lot and you feel like people are smiling back at you. You’ve recently bought three times more six-packs than you usually do and you’ve even put some of them in the fridge yourself. It’s true. It’s real. The 2009 NFL Football Season is about to begin...
Apart from these temporary changes to your routine, what does this really mean if you’re a Patriots fan? It usually means great expectations, but this year’s are somehow different from what they used to be. Let’s have a look.
There’s no other way to put it and no point in trying to deny it: The Patriots' 2009 NFL Season revolves around Tom Brady.
He’s back. I mean, he really is the backbone of the franchise. But what you’re really thinking about is...his knee. Is it 100 percent? How will it respond when a 300-pounder tackles him?
You simply don’t know. And that makes you nervous. So nervous that you even drafted Philip Rivers to your fantasy team, while “your” Tom was sitting on the board. Try to look at it as just one more great thing about Football. Unpredictability, that is…
The bottom line? If Tom Brady get’s back on track, you may think about the Super Bowl. If he doesn’t, forget about it.
But hey! You’re not the only one nervous about Tom Brady’s knee. Just try to figure yourself in Randy Moss’ shoes and you’ll see what nervousness is all about. You’re 32 going on 33, which may be the percentage of your stats that depend on Mr. Bundchen.
Will you connect again? Will he find you in the end-zone just like “in the old times”? Or will you end up talking about the 2007 season forever?
We all know that the likes of Randy Moss and Wes Welker are fully capable of putting a lot of points on the board. They just do it better when they get the ball from Mr. Bundchen…
The bottom line? Well, I don’t want to sound repetitive, but if Tom Brady get’s back on track, you may think about the Super Bowl. If he doesn’t, forget about it.
Again, if it weren’t for Tom Brady’s knee, we wouldn’t feel the need to talk about the running offense. And, although there’s not much to talk about it, you’ve got to wonder how they will compare to their best season in 20 years.
In particular, you’re wondering how a 1000-plus yards/year Pro-Ball Running Back will fit in the backup role. You’re even excited about it, the running game that is, and you don’t remember ever being excited about the Patriots running game…
The bottom line? If Tom Brady get’s back on track and the Patriots running game does at least as well as it did last Season, you may think about the Super Bowl. If the running game gets back to being “just try not to lose too many yards”, you may still think about the Super Bowl (of course, if Tom Brady get’s back on track!).
Another thing you’ll be nervous about is, of course, the Patriots Defense. With Vrabel and Harrison gone, you’re wondering if they will have what it takes to stop some pretty good Offenses out there.
This is when you think about Jerod Mayo and you just feel like he’s going to build on his rookie year and explode into being one of the best in the game. And, of course, he’ll have good old Tedy Bruschi at his side.
Speaking of Tedy Bruschi, you’ll be wondering if he’ll take upon the Leader role or if this will be taken by Richard Seymour or even Vince Wilfork, both of which are entering contract-years and are expected to perform well.
The bottom line? You really don’t have to be all that nervous about the Patriots' Defense.
Finally, a word on the Special Teams. No, I’m not going to talk about Stephen Gostkowski. He shut me up when he made me forget about Adam Vinatieri. The word goes to Scott O’Brien, the new special-teams coach and to what he brings into the franchise.
If you haven’t turned 40, you’re probably keen on spotting young guns when you look at the Patriots coaching staff. You know Football is like Science: it never stops evolving.
But then you get a glimpse on a Patriots training camp or read an interview in a local newspaper about a veteran coach called Scott O’Brien and you know that there are things that never change, the most important of which being the Passion for the Game.
And coach O’Brien has plenty of that to share with the players, young and old, and they’ll be smart to take it. Because you know that if you end up trailing by six with 10 seconds to go in the Fourth Quarter, only Passion will help you win the game, if not for anything else, for it is the only thing that will make you keep on believing in it.