Let 'em Play: Why the Patriots Starters Must Be in Sunday's Game

Mike GleasonCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 27:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts prematurely in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  Runner back Laurence Maroney #39 of the New England Patriots fumbled the ball in the goal line. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Some prominent sports journalists, including the Boston Globe's Chris Gasper, have suggested that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sit out Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

Have they lost their minds?

Let's look at the facts here. The Pats have just put together their first complete game in a month, a game in which all facets of the team finally seemed to gel.

The game against the Jaguars showcased the team this Patriots squad should've been all along: a dominant passing game, a good running game, and a retooled defense. This is how the 2009 Patriots were supposed to look.

Instead, we frequently saw a directionless collection of individual parts that seemingly couldn't help from shooting itself in the foot.

Last week, Tom Brady looked at ease and confident in the pocket. Randy Moss looked like, well, Randy Moss again.

The offense had rhythm, and the defense was stifling.

Now, these people would take this team—a team that hasn't strung together two good games since October—and destroy any continuity it might have had? Madness!

History is replete with situations in which resting starters has come back to cause trouble, even ignoring the Indianapolis Colts' recent PR backlash. (Note to Santa: thanks for that one.)

Just look at the Colts in the early part of the decade. In both 2004 and 2005, the Colts rested Payton Manning at the end of the season. Both seasons, the Colts failed to make the Super Bowl, despite a franchise record 14 wins in 2005.

They didn't win the Super Bowl until 2006, a year that they, yes, played their starters in the final game of the season.

And who could forget the Giants of 2007? A mediocre team during the regular season, they played the 15-0 Patriots tough during their final (and meaningless) game of the season. That close game was widely credited with spurring the team to its Super Bowl victory.

Are these outcomes solely attributable to resting or playing starters? Probably not.

Still, is there any sense in getting an offense that has struggled with consistency all season off the field?