Tom Brady and Peyton Manning shake hands after the 2014 AFC Championship.
Believe me fellow Patriots fans, I get it, this sucks.. A LOT! I’m so down about it I didn’t even want to write anything.. but there are some things that needed to be said. I’ve been hearing a ton of fans complaining and pointing the finger for someone to blame Sunday’s AFC Championship loss on. This is natural, I even did it myself. However, you must step back and take a look at every aspect of this game, this team, and this season. Trust me, it will make you feel better. Well, less shitty at least.
The ragtag bunch.
First off, get realistic for a minute, then look at the roster that the Patriots brought to this game. When you do that, you may actually wonder how we even got this far. Since so many key guys (especially on defense) had season-ending injuries so early in the year, I think Patriots fans forgot just how much we were hurting. Part of the reason is because we were getting wins even with all the “next guys up.” As I said, though, you have to be realistic. When you are you will realize that it was actually quite an amazing feat that we went as far as we did and even ended up scoring the third most points in the NFL this season. This is the main reason why as reluctant as you may be, you have to view this season as a success, not a failure. It still sucks ass, though. If we had won, Tom Brady would’ve made history being the first quarterback ever to go to six Super Bowls. He is at least one of only two who have been to five (John Elway being the other). If he had done this, whether we won or not, I think it would’ve pretty much sealed his fate as the best QB ever. Still, I hold faith in this team and ownership. I believe Brady will get to at least one more Super Bowl.
Now looking further into the injuries, we see just how much they hurt us on both sides of the ball. Still, I think it was the injured offensive players that did the most damage to our potential. Remember that guy Rob Gronkowski? Yeah, he was arguably the best receiving tight end when he started a couple of years ago, setting records. Well an injury from last season kept him out of the lineup for a while this year, then after only a few games being back, he had yet another season-ending injury (on what I think was a dirty hit). So we got basically nothing out of him. Even if we just had him back, we would’ve had a great chance to win this game.
Then there’s that dirtbag Aaron Hernandez. He was our other star receiver tight end. Him with Gronkowski was possibly the best tight end tandem ever. We thought we would have him this season but no, he had to go think he was above the laws of man and God and kill people. Now he’s in jail.
Next, we come to Danny Amendola. He was brought in to replace Wes Welker in the slot receiver role. He seemed pretty good I guess, but for whatever reason, he never really clicked with Tom Brady.. or at least Brady never trusted him enough to throw to him often. He also had injuries that kept him from playing a full season. I like our ownership, and coach Bill Belichick, but I hate that they couldn’t see past their differences with Welker and bring him back. He would’ve been such a huge help to Brady and this offense.. much better than Amendola. I guess I have to be a little mad at Welker too, though. It was probably more on him as we did offer him more money than the Broncos did, but I think he had a falling out with Belichick and that’s why he didn’t want to come back. Well, I do still appreciate him and all he did for us when he was here, so I guess I kind of hope he gets his ring this year. That is unless the “pick” he set, colliding with Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib and taking him out of the game, was actually intentionally dirty (seen here). More on that later.
After those key receivers, there are all the other guys.. the new, young, and some undrafted rookies: Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Josh Boyce. These guys were alright overall, and they did have some big catches earlier in the year, but Tom Brady really needed some veteran receivers who could learn the system.. and he needed them this year. Yeah, I guess these guys will develop and become quality receivers, but time is limited with Brady. He should’ve been given receivers that could produce now, not down the road. Oh, and production aside, these guys all dealt with injuries too and barely ever played. It says a lot that yesterday, Brady was throwing to guys like Austin Collie, Michael Hoomanawanui, and Matthew Slater, who he basically never threw to before. Collie had been picked up and dropped repeatedly all season and was never used much, Hoomanawanui didn’t play much, and was usually just blocking when he did, and Slater has spent the whole year on special teams. Even though Slater is a receiver, he spent all year tackling the opposing player catching our punts as soon as they caught it. It was awesome that he was able to do that almost every time, but he never really spent any time as a receiver. Again, Brady was working with a weak receiving core that even QB’s on crappy teams don’t have to deal with.
Oh and there’s one offensive player who dealt with injuries worth mentioning: Tom Brady. First, he did something to his hand early in the season. We don’t know what it was, but he was seen quite often holding and rubbing his hand while he was on the bench. It was something that he just played through, but I’m sure it hindered him at least a bit. Then there was Sunday’s game. He suffered an undisclosed knee injury, but again, he played through it. Who knows how much better he may have been without these injuries.
Now I need to mention one last receiver, but for different reasons than the others: Julian Edelman. He is an absolutely amazing player all around. He was a great quarterback in college, so he knows what Tom Brady needs from him. More importantly, though, he is a fantastic receiver both in the slot and on deep routes. I don’t remember him running the wrong route once this year. Meanwhile every other receiver was messing up and costing us downs. He did not get injured. He is tough as hell. He can catch just about any throw. He can make guys miss their tackles and get yards after the catch. Oh ya, and he is great at returning kicks, getting far down field every time. So, why do I bring him up when I’m talking about injuries? Well, besides the fact that he’s the complete opposite of injury-prone, he is an absolute necessity for this team going forward. Please, Belichick, Krafts, BRING BACK EDELMAN!!
So we had shit for receivers, but there was also the running game. Luckily these guys were able to step up and be a huge part of our offense this year, especially late. They also didn’t have to deal with many injuries. Unfortunately, the Patriots tried utilizing them early in this game and were stopped every time, so they had to move away from the running game. If it had been more effective, that would yet again give us a great chance of winning this game. Just look at LeGarrette Blount last week: he had a whopping four touchdowns on 166 yards with a long of 73! Stevan Ridley had a very productive year too (besides all those fumbles.. get that under control man!). Shane Vereen had a big year as well, producing both on the ground and with receptions, mostly converting third downs. Brandon Bolden and James Develin did pretty well too, though they didn’t play a whole lot. There’s not much to say about our running game in the way of injuries or blaming, I just wanted to give them some props. There were a strangely high number of fumbles from running backs this year, but not at the end when it really mattered. Just make sure to keep it that way next season guys. I think that this will be a very important part of this offense. Effective running allows Tom Brady to be much more successful with play action and passing in general.
Then there’s our defense. EVERY SINGLE key player at each level of the defense was injured and out for the season early on. Furthermore, these guys weren’t just the best we had, they were some of the best in the league! All-Pro defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, his very capable replacement Tommy Kelly, star linebacker and Patriots tackles leader for the last few years Jerod Mayo, and star shutdown cornerback Aqib Talib.. our best at each level, all injured early. Talib was at least able to come back, but did deal with a few injuries throughout the season. Both of the games that he got taken out in went south for us real fast afterwards. In Sunday’s game, he got taken out very early by Wes Welker as I mentioned above and the same thing happened. Our defense was helpless after that. Now about that hit by Welker. He was running a “pick” or “rub” play, which is commonly used throughout the league. It’s when his route purposely crosses right in front of, and as close as possible, to one of his fellow receivers. This causes the defenseman covering the other guy (Talib) to run into him and lose his coverage.
Wes Welker takes out Aqib Talib. It was all downhill from there.
Well, as much as people are bashing Bill Belichick for saying that was the worst play he’s ever seen, I agree with him to an extent. We all know that it wasn’t the worst he’s seen, he just hates Welker. More importantly, though, he went on to say that type of play shouldn’t be allowed and should be penalized as it is way too dangerous. This, I agree with, and for a league so worried about safety, they should too. The other reason I wanted to mention this play again is to bring up the question of whether or not it was really dirty and intentional. Check it out and see for yourself here. I’m not sure what to believe, but it’s definitely in the realm of possibility that Welker wanted to take out Talib, knowing how vitally important he was to our defense. Plus, he even said a couple of years ago he thinks “it’s kinda nice to stick it in Bill [Belichick]‘s face every once in a while.” If that’s the case, I’m sorry, but then I would hope Welker never gets a ring. You could already pretty much tell when he did it that the Broncos were going to win, so there was no need for it. I really hope it wasn’t intentional. There’s no room in any sport for that. Do you even lift bro? Maybe if you did you wouldn’t have to play dirty.
Some other defensive and important guys who dealt with injuries were safety Steve Gregory (who got taken out mid-game on Sunday), star defensive lineman and sack extraordinaire Rob Ninkovich (who missed the second half on Sunday), star linebacker Brandon Spikes, and some other lesser-known guys. Even our offensive line (which is sort of a defensive role, protecting Tom Brady) saw a number of injuries, most importantly offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer. There were so many injuries this season I’m missing probably half of them. Now you should see that we actually did very well considering it all.
Still the Best
We know we can win with a weak defense, but when the offense is struggling too, you don’t stand a chance. So, in the AFC Championship, and the whole season in general, there’s no reason we should’ve even been above .500 winning. So all you Peyton Manning, Broncos fans, Colts fans, and Brady haters, remember all of this when you want to open your mouth and say that Manning is better than Brady… then shut it before you say anything. Sure, I’ll give you that Manning is the best regular season QB.. It was quite a feat to beat some of the records set by “the greatest offense ever” (the Patriots in 2007, who were the first team ever to go undefeated.. until the Super Bowl). But when it really matters (the playoffs), Manning has not done anywhere close to as much as Brady has. With 18 career playoff wins, Brady holds the record for the most ever. Plus, he has won 10 of the 15 matchups against Manning. Granted, Brady hasn’t done nearly as well as he did early in his career, but that’s another story, which is all about the cheap bastards that make our roster not giving him any decent receivers.
Furthermore, look at who Peyton Manning had to throw to this year: among others, four outstanding receivers: Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Julius Thomas. If Tom Brady had them instead, he would have put up twice as many points as Manning did. If he had even one of them, I bet he would’ve won Sunday’s game. Especially since the Broncos defense pretty much sucks. Comparing these two guys, especially this season, is like putting them in a gun duel, but Manning has a machine gun and Brady has a Nerf gun. Obviously Manning comes out on top, but can’t use that to say that with the same weapons he is still better, which is what people are saying.
Tom Brady led his team to their third straight AFC Championship with a bunch of nobodies. That takes real skill. He’s been to eight of them in his 12 years while Manning has only been to three in 13 years. Brady is also one of only two QB’s to ever go to five Super Bowls, winning three. Furthermore, he won two in three years, two in a row, and three in four years. Manning is now going to his third, and has only won once. I know if Manning wins, people will want to put him ahead of Brady as the best ever, but c’mon. I admit that’s good, and Manning is one of the best ever, but it’s still two less Super Bowls and one less ring. Oh yeah, and Brady has won 10 of the 15 match-ups all-time between these two. What’s more, Brady and the Patriots have the most total wins of any team since he started. Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots are simply the winningest in this millennium. In the end, since this loss and recent big ones are not on Brady, but on those that make the roster, he should definitely still be in the conversation of best QB ever.
Quit Messin’ Around, Let’s Do This!
Now the Patriots have to look ahead to next year and what will likely be the last few years that Tom Brady plays. I beg Bill Belichick and the ownership of the team to do us all a favor and GET SOME FRIGGIN’ OFFENSIVE WEAPONS! Brady needs some real receivers! We’ve been sustainable as the winningest team in the NFL for 13 years.. Great, but Brady’s window is closing.. So spend some friggin’ money and get him some reliable, veteran receivers! Belichick, listen, forget about value and trying to prove you can win with mediocre players. You’re one of if not the best coach ever.. you don’t need to do that. It was fine and dandy for a while (as much as many of us hated it), but it’s time to get real and realize that the chances for another Brady/Belichick Super Bowl are diminishing rapidly. Time is short, it’s now or never. GO FOR BROKE AND STACK UP THIS ROSTER!!!! For Brady, for Belichick, for the Krafts, for everyone on the team and staff, and for all the fans, please get the offensive veteran weapons we need to be champions once more. Don’t worry about the long-term any more. I know a lot of fans would agree with me that if we could make moves and put together a Super Bowl winning team just once more before Brady retires, it wouldn’t matter if we lost every game the year after. We want – no, we NEED one more championship. Patriots roster makers, quit being cheap and egotistical bastards and do what must be done! It’s all on you now.
Thanks to the Patriots for a great season and a good run.
Here’s a video of Tom Brady highlights:
Here’s a video of the full highlights:
Thanks for reading,