I always loved that quote he gave, which he got from I think the OC or AD at Michigan while he was there.
SMP's recent post about the Gatorade Showers and the good soul Mr. Henne's outsider's view of the Pats both got me thinking about the pats and how I feel about things going into 2011. So here you go, my initial thoughts pre camp about your 2011 New England Patriots:
1. New England is officially back in the role of the underdog, and I love it.
I think the league is really under estimating TB coming into this year and thus, under estimating the Patriots. Tom had a very difficult season last year, and still put up All Pro #'s. The fact that he is healthy and rested seems to be lost on people - regardless of Peyton Manning's recent 2nd year from an injury rebound.
2. Specific to Tom, I believe his decision to stay home this off-season will be a tremendous benefit to the Pats.
At this point in his life and career the mental preparation is more challenging then the physical I would suspect for Tom. He is undoubtedly THE leader on this team, offensively and defensively.
To relax his mind and spend time with the family helps clear the slate completely, helps recharge the batteries. It also provides him with time he can fully dedicate to his family, so when the season comes around he can fully dedicate himself to the team without feeling as much of a "I'm missing my kids grow up." pang as he could.
It is so crucial for him and the entire team that he is mentally capable of leading the 52 other men on every day and every snap and to do that well I think stepping away from the game is key.
3. The right character is here.
Whether it's what I believe to be TB's re-charged spirit, AD being gone, Wilork being resigned or what - something in me really feels like this team is going to gel something special.
Almost like the last 2 years we 'bridge years' (to quote T. Epstein) and now the team has assembled a new core to build from. They spent the last two years drafting 12 high character guys. Not a lot of flashy high profile players, a lot of guys who are much closer to the lunch pale mentality.
Like last year I think this team will be getting better as the season goes on. The defense is still pretty young and it could be 6-8 weeks before the secondary and OLB positions are fully squared away.
But the offense - I mean who ever is saying the Pats could suffer on offense is just not really thinking about things.
I love Wes Welker and I know the Pats will miss him - but having Brady being 100%, completely changes SO MUCH of this offense.
Without Wes I'll expect a lot more "brady has connected with 8 different receivers" type comments from Simms. Long term when he does come back, that's a ridiculous mid season/end of season wrinkle to add back to the offense.
In conclusion, Pats are Looking Good....Billy Ray.