Scott Cordischi On Sports: Pats More Finesse Than Physical
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The shine is off Flying Elvis’ star.
As good as these New England Patriots are, they are not the same clutch team we once rooted for almost a decade ago.
Sunday’s AFC Championship loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium was just another example of why we should all lower our expectations for this franchise.
Spoiled by their success from 2001-2004, we have now come to measure the success and/of failure of this franchise based solely upon winning the Super Bowl. By those standards, the team failed again. Then again, maybe we need to change our way of thinking about this team.
Most football fans throughout the country would die to have their team go (12-4) in the regular season, grab the #2-seed in the AFC Playoffs and make it to the Conference Championship Game. Not here.
But do we expect too much from the Patriots?
The short answer to that question is “yes.”
The fact of the matter is, a team that competes for championships year after year has to be doing a lot of things right. And the Patriots certainly fit that mold. However, they are not a perfect football team despite what we want or expect them to be.
Like it or not, this team lacks great playmakers on the defensive side of the football which were key to the franchises 3 Super Bowl wins in 4 years.
Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law and Rodney Harrison are all gone and have not been adequately replaced.
The Baltimore Ravens have their Rodney Harrison on defense. His name is Bernard Pollard. His knock-out hit on Stevan Ridley left little doubt who was going to win Sunday’s game.
Even more disturbing than the loss of great players on the defensive side of the football is the inability of the offense to produce when it matters the most. Whether it’s a dropped pass by Wes Welker or a subpar performance by Tom Brady, their postseason performances do not come close to matching their regular season dominance.
And speaking of Brady, while we all recognize that he is one of the greatest quarterbacks alive, dead or yet to be born, he has not been able to string together consecutive great postseason performances since the 2004 AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl. That’s 8 years and counting!
Why is this the case? Who knows?
It has been written here before that when the Patriots were winning all of those Super Bowls, that they were the more physical team than a team like the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts who were viewed as a finesse team.
Unfortunately, it is now our Patriots who are that “finesse” team and when they get “punched in the mouth” so-to-speak by a more physical team, they tend to wilt.
Look at their recent playoff losses. The Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants have each defeated the twice and the New York Jets once. In each of those games you could clearly make the case that the opposing team was much more physical than the Pats.
Does this mean that Bill Belichick is a bad coach or that Tom Brady is a bad quarterback? Certainly not. But as Belichick likes to say, “it is what it is.”
And right now New England “is” a good football team that lacks that true grit to win the big one.
-Didn’t Anna Burns Welker say what most Patriots wanted to say after Sunday’s loss?
-So let me see if I have this right. According to Terrell Suggs, the Patriots are “arrogant pricks.” Is that about right? That’s the same Terrell Suggs who had the mother of his two children file a criminal complaint against him for allegedly throwing a soap dispenser at her head, striking her in the chest and held a bottle of bleach over her and his son. Wow! What a great guy! Not!
-There is no disputing the fact that both Harbaugh brothers are great football coaches and their stories will be told ad nauseum over the next two weeks. From the outside looking in, my initial impression of the two is that Jim (San Fransico’s head coach) seems to be a bit more of a hot head and fiery than his brother John (Baltimore’s head coach) who seems like more of a gentleman.
-Line of the week comes from Steve McDonald (aka Jim Shorts) at the COX basketball media breakfast this week in Warwick when talking about Manti Te’o’s fictitious girlfriend. “Sadly, my love life is worse than his!”
-Line of the week II comes from Patriots coach Bill Belichick when asked to explain his feelings the day after losing the AFC Championship game to Baltimore. “The last game, you play a game this time of year, you’re either in euphoria or it’s a crash landing. So for us [Sunday] it was a crash landing.”
-I know that Wes Welker had another critical drop that proved costly to the Patriots in a postseason game. Still, I hope that he is wearing a Patriots uniform in 2013.
-And while they’re at it, the Pats should also do what they can to bring Aqib Talib back.
-What if the Patriots had a healthy Rob Gronkowski in last year’s Super Bowl and for the playoffs this year? Would we be singing a different tune? I’d like to think so, but Brady and the Pats won 3 Super Bowls with far less talented skilled position players than what he has had for the past 5 years.
-This quote from a division one men’s basketball coach on Brown head coach Mike Martin: “this guy is a star on the rise!” Martin is in his first season as head coach at his alma mater and has done a terrific job molding his undermanned team into a very competitive squad. The Bears have enjoyed great non-conference wins over the likes of Providence College and Niagara and opened Ivy League play with a win over Yale last Saturday. However, the road ahead will be difficult for Martin’s Bears who embark on a 5-game road trip within the league this Saturday. Still, the team’s much-improved defense, and attention to detail are clear evidence of Martin’s great work since arriving on College Hill in June.
-I guess we should star paying attention to the Bruins and the Celtics now that the Patriots season has ended.
-Then again, there’s NFL free agency and the April draft to look forward to.
-Bill Belichick saying that he will be back next year and that he’ll “keep coming back until I’m told otherwise” is great news for Pats fans!
-Apparently Tom Brady contacted Ed Reed and apologized for his “karate kick” slide in Sunday’s game against the Ravens.
-In Joe Lunardi’s latest installment of “Bracketology,” he has Duke, Kansas, Michigan and Syracuse as the four #1-seeds in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. He also has the Bryant Bulldogs as a #15-seed facing 2nd-seeded Louisville in the opening round.
-If the PC Friars are going to be a force in the second half of the season, they will need LaDontae Henton to rediscover his offensive game. Ever since his 37-point explosion against Brown, Henton has struggled to put the ball in the basket.
-With the Celtics struggling it would appear that GM Danny Ainge may be primed to pull the trigger on a trade. The leading candidate to be traded might be Courtney Lee. However, don’t rule anything out because the one thing Ainge is not it afraid to make an unpopular move.
-Not that it would bother Doc Rivers who seems as frustrated with this Celtics team as he has been with any team he has coached. Doc feels this team is capable of much better than what it has demonstrated thus far.
-As disappointed as we are right now in the Patriots, they will still be considered one of the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl heading into next season as well.
-The PGA Tour is now a young man’s game. The young guns bomb the ball off the tee overpowering courses. Even if they were in their prime, it would be very difficult for guys like Brad Faxon, Billy Andrade and Mike Weir towin out there.
-40 years ago yesterday, the late Howard Cosell had one of the great calls of any play-by-play man when he infamously proclaimed, “down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” Cosell, of course, was referring to George Foreman’s win over Joe Frazier in the “Sunshine Showdown” in Jamaica.