Revisiting A Patriots Top 10

Oh Tommy. What I wouldn't do to make you happy. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
I have a lot of pet peeves. People that don't know the difference between "breathe" and "breath." Little dogs. Restaurants with posterboard-sized menus. Non-microwavable containers. Kethcup packets (NEVER enough ketchup!). Brunch. Popped collars. Reality TV. Selena Gomez. Jets fans.

But nothing – and I mean NOTHING – drives me nuts more than people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Nothing is ever anybody’s fault anymore, and I’m sick and tired of it. There was once a time when the phrase "you made your bed, now lie in it" meant something. Now, it’s more like "you made your bed, now blame your parents/society/the government for teaching you how to make it wrong and sue somebody." America has enough problems as it is; the last thing we need is a bunch of finger pointing and name-calling.

That’s why I’m taking a stand. Time to own up to what I’ve done and take it on the chin. Maybe if I lead by example, others will follow suit. I try to avoid talking politics, religion, or any other subject that may open a can of worms. But I don’t shy away from talking the New England Patriots, and I’ve made my share of predictions about how this season is going to pan out over the last few months. Since there’s no game to preview this Sunday with the Patriots enjoying their bye week, so I thought that now would be a good opportunity to revisit some of those predictions to see how I did, and admit it when if I’m wrong. I know that these kinds of predictions are best visited at the end of the season rather than the middle, but if all goes according to plan I’ll be doing the bulk of my writing in February about…

You know what? Not even going to go there. We all know what I’m thinking. Moving on.

Back in August, I posted what I thought were the 10 best offseason moves that the Patriots had made up until that point (read the article here). I’m going to re-examine each of those predictions and grade them the only way I know how: it’s either a win, or it’s a fail. I decided to factor in not only whether or not the transactions ended up panning out, but how they fall in terms of the ranking I gave them.

So here goes nothing. Time to man up and handle my business. Examining my predictions after the jump.

10. Signing UFAJeremy Ross. I’m tempted to give myself a mulligan on this one, as I made this call thinking that Ross would be valuable as a returner. While the return game is surprisingly more of a factor than we all initially thought based on the touchback-riddled preseason, very few (if any) teams in the NFL kept a man on their roster strictly for returning purposes. Thus, Ross never really had any value before the season started, which made it difficult for him to make the squad. Still, I made the prediction, and I’m sticking to my guns. FAIL.

9. Resigning Brandon McGowan. Still don’t quite get this move. New England is clearly lacking at safety, other than Pat Chung, and I always thought that McGowan played well for the Patriots when given the opportunity. Bill Belichick obviously knows something we don’t, though, because he thinks that Sergio Brown and Josh Barrett are better options at this point. McGowan is still a free agent, too, to my knowledge, so clearly he isn’t in too high demand. FAIL.

8. Releasing Tully Banta-Cain. My logic for liking this move in the offseason was that it seemed to hint that the Patriots were about to acquire another edge rusher that will complement the team’s new front 3. While New England never really got that edge rusher (Andre Carter was already on the team by this point), I still think that this was a good move. TBC was never the answer at pass rush, and wasn’t great in coverage. Our current linebackers are starting to come together, and Brandon Spikes is really coming into his own. I can’t wait for Jerod Mayo to return to this lineup so we can see this corps at full strength. WIN.

7. Getting the bulk of the rookie contracts done quickly.  Rookies Nate Solder and Stevan Ridley have stepped into their respective roles with a pretty solid level of success thus far. We’re still waiting for Shane Vereen to see significant time, and Ras-I Dowling hasn’t done himself any favors shaking off the reputation he earned in college as injury-prone. Still, the sooner the contracts got signed, the sooner the rookies got on the field and as up-to-speed as possible. Looking back on it now – what a bonehead move this prediction is. I mean, why wouldn’t the Pats want to sign their rookies quickly? Is there any strategy or planning in getting a player to hold out? I was obviously just looking for something to get me to 10 predictions with this pick. Oh well. I’ll still take it.  WIN.

6. Getting Matt Light's Deal Done. Matt Light is very quietly racking up a phenomenal season. He recently ate DeMarcus Ware’s lunch for all but 2 plays last Sunday, and has been protecting Brady’s blind side very well so far. The Light signing became even more valuable with Sebastian Vollmer sidelined for much of the season thus far, forcing Solder over to Right Tackle. Maintaining continuity and consistency is vital to the way an O Line performs, and having Light there to anchor it has remained a huge plus. WIN.

5. Trading for Chad OchocincoWould this prediction still be on this list if I could do the whole thing again knowing what I know now? Yes it would. Would I have this move all the way up at #5? Absolutely not. While I liked – and still like – the Ochocinco trade, Chad isn’t panning out the way most of us have hoped. He is basically the team’s 3rd receiver, 5th if you count the tight ends, and gets very little looks during the snaps he does actually play. A great point was made on one of the message boards about how it’s very possible that the coaching staff’s hopes for Ochocinco in no way reflected the media and fans’ hopes for what he’d bring to the table. It’s very possible that Ocho is filling his role on the team to a T, and we all just don’t know it. What I do know, though, is that I was hoping for a better season from him thus far. I still think it was one of their better offseason moves, but not nearly as important as re-signing Light or getting the rookies up to speed. WIN, but with a large dose of FAIL.

4. Trading for Albert Haynesworth. Was Albert hurt for the first few weeks, or was he just out of shape? At this point, I think it could go either way. It may be a little too early to dub this prediction a win or fail right now, as I think that Haynesworth has been fairly solid the past two games as a situational pass rusher. I also think that he’s going to get better as the Pats get into the meat of their schedule following the bye. However, if he doesn’t start to make a little bit more of a splash, I’m going to have to go back and retroactively bump this prediction down towards the bottom of this list. It’s hard not to like the move given how little New England gave up to acquire him, but based on the here and now, the jury is still out.  TBD.

3. Resigning Kevin Faulk. How many of you grinned like you just saw a fat person slip on the ice when you read Greg’s article about Kevin Faulk returning to practice? I know I did. As a receiving and blocking back, you just don’t get any better than Faulk. Brady is also recently on record saying that Kevin Faulk is the most clutch guy he’s ever played with, which is saying something (now if I can only get him on record saying he’d be honored to be my Best Man, should I ever get married, I’ll be set). Danny Woodhead is having a quieter season than expected, and getting Faulk back for situational downs is going to be a big boost. While I don’t think that his spot is fully cemented on the team yet, I can’t see New England cutting him and I think he’ll be ready to contribute as early as Week 8 against the Steelers. Cannot wait to see 33 back out there next to Tommy B in the shotgun. WIN.

2. Getting Logan Mankins to sign his franchise tender. Direct quote from yours truly back in August: "That Mankins signed his tender…leads me to believe that the two sides may be working to patch things up and hammer out something that keeps the team’s best O Lineman around long term." Boom! Nailed this one. Shortly after I posted that article, Mankins and the Patriots front office came to terms that keeps him around through the bulk of his career. Mankins has since been a perfect solider and is a vital cog in an offensive line that is playing incredibly well right now. WIN.

1. Tom Brady cut his hair. Not only did Tommy B cut his hair to start the season, he cut it even more once the season got going. He is now rocking a close cropped Maximus from Gladiator ‘do that just screams "I need a ring for my pinkie and I need it yesterday." Riding into battle with flowing locks is reserved for William Wallace and those creeps on the cover of romance novels. Once again, I called this one like a champ. EPIC WIN.

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I know that most of these predictions were pretty much layups and pretty much any idiot could have made these calls and been mostly correct. But the rub of it is that any idiot didn’t make these calls: this one did. Plus, it’s not like I have a whole lot going for me, so I’m going to take what I can get and beat it into the ground. I think I did pretty damn well overall; only two clear misses, at least four hits, with three home runs.

Come to think of it, I’m actually pretty damn awesome. And who said that taking responsibility was hard?

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