None of that matters!
How often have we heard that this week? To be honest it is completely accurate. The first 19 weeks of the season have no bearing on today's game. However there are two observations that I have taken from both the game against the Broncos as well as most of the season, that give us reasons to believe we can, not only win, but dominate.Reason number 1: Believing the defense has turned the corner, is not completely unreasonable.
Its only one game. That has been everyone's argument. However even if it really has been only one game sometimes that is a large enough sample size to have hope. Not by any means something definitive, but at least to believe. Let me explain. I have always been pretty good at fantasy football. Partly because I am unreasonably obsessed with the game of football. However part of it is also that I am decent at making deductions from small samples of data. Every week there are quite a few players that blow up for the first time, successful fantasy football players are able to deduce if such success is sustainable regardless of how small the sample size. But how can one have consistent success at what seems like such a crap-shoot? Simple, you try and figure out what was the reason behind the increase in numbers, and will that reason continue to be there. For instance if a wr has a career week, is he just an inconsistent performer? Or does ha have a new qb he used to play with on the practice squad? If so will that qb continue as the starter? Is this the first time that player starts? Was there an injury that will allow him to continue to start? And so on and so on... When applying this form of thought to the Patriots' defense u realize that there are considerable differences to this team, that perfectly coincide with our improved performance.
First: The most simple reason, Spikes and Chung are back and healthy.
Second: Sterling Moore is once again starting, every game he has started, including the game against the Jets (his first NFL start mind you) we have been a better defensive team. The only time he performed poorly was the fourth quarter against the colts, however I am pretty sure that was more miscommunication, and the fact that Slater was behind him than anything else. Why he was ever released still bothers me.
Third: McCourty is starting at safety. McCourty not only seems capable of becoming a great safety, but he looks like a perfect compliment to Chung. I am really anxious to see what that safety combo looks like next year, especially with a cb tandem of Ras I, Sterling, Arrington, and Janoris Jenkins???? The last one is wishful thinking, well only wishful if BB feels he can control him.
Fourth: The return of the 3-4. This team seems wayyy more comfortable in the 3-4. What is more our versatility at lb, and girth at dl, almost seems better suited for it. A d-line of wilfork, warren, deaderick, brace, love, and ellis is not bad. And our core at lb with anderson, mayo, spikes, ninkovich, and super sub fletcher compliments the line very well.
Those are four, sustainable differences between our early season defense and the one we saw on Saturday. And although that is no guarantee that we will continue to dominate as we have, it definitely let's us know that it is possible. That the Broncos game truly may not of been a fluke.
Reason number two for us to be hopeful: Brady has seen it all.
Amazingly enough our past failures in the playoffs have not necessarily been terrible defensive performances. However our offenses were definitely a step below their regular season performances. Which is understandable to an extent, since defenses in the playoffs are better, however we need a top notch Brady if we want to win it all, that much is clear. What has changed this year? Well Brady just seems to be in more control. He has seen it all, and the results have been devastating. But you may ask, how is it that Brady now in his 11th season has just reached the point of seeing it all? Well by that i mean with this offensive scheme and these weapons. He has been this comfortable before, however i would have a hard time saying he has been this comfortable post Weis. Last year Brady was nowhere near as comfortable with these weapons as he is this year, heck even at the half way point this year he was nowhere near as comfortable. Plus he was not used to the different schemes defenses would try to use against this relatively new offense (post moss offense). Defenses are normally a little behind the curve however come playoff time last year the jets had the first real adjustment against it. The results spoke for themselves. Our offense was not ready for the adjustment. However teams have been trying to imitate the Jets all year, as well as throw their own wrinkles in to the game plan. Will the Ravens add a new wrinkle or two? Surely, but we can rest assured it wont be earth shattering nor something that will completely take Brady and his two headed OC monster by surprise. Brady has looked as in control the past few weeks as i have ever seen him. You may say how is he more in control this year than during our perfect season? Well lets say he's a better boat captain this year, where as that year he just had a bigger boat. And no I'm not speaking of accuracy here, because honestly that was never what made him a champion. But he is so much more like the QB we used to know and love, the one who gladly took sacks, yet who's pocket presence wizardry often avoids them. The qb who often throws incompletions on purpose just because it is the best decision, and who's favorite wr is truly the open man. Last year when branch arrived, he quickly became option 1a, this year he is option 4 at best. And not because he has regressed, but because everyone else has greatly improved, as has their chemistry with the old Gunslinger. We are in a great position to win this game. As are we in a great position to compete until Brady retires. I mean has anyone else realized how young we are at so many key positions?
However will we win? Well only time will tell, 'cause the bottom line is, none of that matters!