I'm sure you're all acutely aware of that by now. Odds are, you're probably still fist-pumping and shouting (Jets fans) or cursing and hitting things (most everyone else).
This loss marks a third consecutive playoff loss for the New England Patriots, which has a lot of people wondering about where the Patriots are headed in the next few years.
Well, allow me to offer some reassurance, Pats fans. Despite how it appeared yesterday, the Patriots are on the upswing.
The Patriots have a solid defense, but youth and inexperience has held them back. With an extra year under their belts, the 2011-2012 Patriots defense should be that much better.
Another good draft should help out that endeavor as well.
On the offensive side of the football, the addition of Danny Woodhead, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski has changed the face of the New England offense, making it a much more threatening unit (despite their showing against New York).
All of that is great, but most everyone would be willing to admit that the success of the Patriots depends entirely on Tom Brady, a fact that became painfully apparent when the future Hall of Fame quarterback struggled to move the ball against a New York Jets defense that was out for blood.
So then, the question remains, since it all depends on him, can Tom Brady lead the Patriots to the Super Bowl next season?
Well, there's an argument to both sides, so let's look both ways before making a decision.
Why Tom Brady Can't Get Them There
Offensive Line Play
I still maintain that the New England Patriots have one of the best, if not the best, pass-blocking offensive lines in the NFL, but they really let Brady down against the Jets, allowing five sacks and numerous knockdowns. If they can't give Brady some time and space, he is going to struggle.
While the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills won't be going anywhere anytime soon, the New York Jets certainly will be. They've split their games against the Patriots over the past two years, and they have put together a very talented squad. They may have to do some restructuring once the salary cap comes back, but they are still a very strong team.
Lack of Help
Tom Brady did a great job with what he was given this year, but it can't be denied that he struggled without the help of a top-end deep threat like Randy Moss helping him out.
Why Tom Brady Can Get Them There
Tom Brady is the heart and soul of this team for a reason. He's possibly the best quarterback in NFL history. As long as he is under center, the Patriots will always have a chance to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.
For all those of you who doubted Bill Belichick's ability to draft, just take a look at the 2010 draft class for the Patriots. First-round pick Devin McCourty is going to the Pro Bowl, tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski asserted their dominance and their pair of Florida linebackers has shown a lot of future promise.
While the Jets certainly seem like they're on the upswing, it is just as possible that they end up going down next year as it is that they keep going up. With Braylon Edwards, Shaun Ellis, Brad Smith, Antonio Cromartie, Drew Coleman, Brodney Pool and Eric Smith set to enter free agency and a few players getting up there in age, the Jets are going to have to do some prioritizing and reorganizing as far as personnel go.
This is a tough one, and ultimately it hinges on how the Jets deal with this offseason, so making a decision right now would be a tad premature. What fun would this article be if I didn't answer my own question though?
So here's the answer you've all been waiting for:
Yes, Tom Brady can lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl next year.
The real question is, though, will he?
Only time will tell...
Do you think the Patriots have the edge to make a run for the Super Bowl in 2012? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments section.
If you enjoyed this, check out my last article on pro venues that should host the BCS National Championship Game, or simply follow me on Twitter @chriseggemeyer for all manner of random things.
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