after hearing all of the blasting over the last week or so by pats haters and fairweather fans, i felt it only proper to dedicate a small article to this beloved 2011 team. and i say that with sincerity. if you did not love this 2011 team, you are not a true patriots fan. with a shortened offseason, a slew of injuries, a revolving door of secondary players, and way too much youth all around (especially on defense), we simply expected to be compettive, and didn't even think of a superbowl run. then, this year happened.
let's take a step back. i was devastated by the superbowl loss. i know most of you were, too. i still have images in my head of TFB leading that third Q TD drive, and thinking to myself, "this is awesome. this team is not going to lose." then poof. here we are, tom brady sucks, welker is a goat, the defense can't stop anyone, blah blah blah. well, i lost sight of the journey. and i think most of us did as well. we were so caught up in the emotion of the game, MHK, BB&TBs 4th ring, etc. but once the scar tissue subsided over the last week, i took a deep breath and realized how much this team actually OVERachieved.
brady is a legend. period. he is going to continue play at a high level over the next 3-5 years, barring unforeseen injury. after him? GRONK. you can't say enough about this kid. in his 2nd year, he destroyed the TE record book. he is the most important offensive player (non QB) in the LEAGUE. he played 96% of the team's snaps during the season. of course, until the superbowl. And did i mention we lost the superbowl? by 4 points in the last minute? with GRONK literally 50%? seriously, just sit back and be in awe of that for a minute. our most versatile and dangerous weapon was at 50% in the superbowl, and we still almost won.
and his partner in crime, herndo. stepped up bigtime, and almost pulled enough out to grab the win. he's going to see a lot of single coverage with gronk around, and that is scary. did i mention he was 22 years old? he's only going to get better. and he's proven he's a big game player.
and welker. he's coming back. stop talking about that "drop." it was one play, and the only reason it is being focused on is because it could have led to sealing the victory. last time i checked, we had several chances after that to make a play. that stuff happens. the great teams overcome those plays. we fell just short of being that "great team." and come on. does that catch matter if ahmad bradshaw's fumble on his own 10 yard line doesnt bounce directly back into his o-lineman's belly? welker is one of the toughest guys in the league, and reliable. we will sign him.
the defense. outside of wilfork, who was a monster this postseason, our best players on defense are under 27 years old. mayo, spikes, chung, mccourty, love, deaderick, fletcher, arrington, moore. if that's not a young core to build around, shoot me. how well they played with the offseason to master a 3-4 is simply awesome. spikes and chung both showed flashes of being playmakers. same with ninkovich. i have faith that mccourty will be back. and sterling moore? dude is 22 years old, we may have found a gym. ihedigbo took upon a much larger role than expected, with class. you can only expect a special teamer to do so much. not saying he should be our starting safety, but i want him back. what a great leader. but our starting defense with a full offseason next year will include wilfork, spikes, mayo, chung, mccourty, moore, arrington, ninkovich, fletcher, deaderick, love? that's a hell of a young base.
fellow fans, my point is, once the emotion wears off, can you even believe this team had a chance to win the superbowl? it's insane. it's even more insane to think about how much better this team can be in 1-2 years. getting back to the superbowl is a tough task, but considering that we are going up, and our biggest competition (steelers/ravens) are where we were 2-3 years ago on the brink of large turnover, how can you be disappointed in this team. they were a large bunch of castoffs and no names that were constantly criticized all year long, and still were 1-2 plays from winning the superbowl. not to mention they played with more heart and guts than any team i can remember. and they'll be even better next year. here, here.