Remember '04, when it was get a lead and then here comes #28?
Remember that 8 minute drive to end the Colts playoff game that completely destroyed their hope of a comeback?
One thing I didn't like about the 18-1 season, beyond the "and 1" part, was that the Patriots dominance felt more like it angered opponents rather then put fear into them. The frustration and anger of having the score run up on you outweighed the mental defeat and reality that you just got purely abused on the field. Teams didn't have much shock, awe or defeat in them post game.
That's what I'd like to see change this year, and that's what it looks like they are set up to accomplish. More 2004, less 2007. I want to see the Pats get the quick lead early, then wear out opponents with long physical drives.
Beyond the mental part of the game this style also helps protect Brady and gives the defense time to rest/be coached on the sideline. The final offensive roster looks to be built to support this effort better then in recent years also; consider:
- 5 Running backs on the roster. Granted this also accounts for the injury risk of many of the backs, but it also points to greater focus on keeping legs fresh and pounding the ball.
- TE personnel - they traded/cut 2 of the 3 receiving TEs and got two bigger blocking TEs in Baker and Matthews. They now have a very strong 2 TE package from a running standpoint.
- Only 3 proven receivers on the roster, with Edelman and Aiken as 4 and 5. You'll want to keep Welker and Moss fresh and healthy as there is not much behind them, so more running helps here also.
Finally this brings me back to one thing Mercury freaking Morris said prior to the SB vs the Giants - that the difference between the Pats and his dolphin team was that the Phins physically and mental wore down teams with their running game and defense.
I didn't like that comment though I do like that style of football. It hurts your opponent, protects your QB, fires up your D and most importantly it can shut Mercury Morris up.
I don't think 16-0 is really possible again, I'm not sure I'd want to see it again. I would like to see 14-2 with a lot more physical offense.
This year leave no doubt who the best team is. For this season and for this decade.
Is it kick off yet?