I happened to be listening to one of my favorite morning radio shows, The Hillman Morning Show on WAAF, when the question posed went something like this: Should we blindly follow Bill Belichick, never questioning anything he does? It wasn't as if Greg Hill was questioning his faith. He was simply postulating, poking the bee's nest if you will. Most of the morons that listen to this show called up, spouting their undying and unwavering faith in Hoodie. "Dude, like ya know, how can you question what Bill does, man? Know what I mean?" They sounded a lot like Tommy from Quinzee.
Me? It took me a few seconds to answer, in my head of course, because there was noone in the car with me. Sure, sure I trust Bill. Why are people questioning him? Off the top of my head, Let's run down the list of departures:
- OC Josh McDaniels
- QB Matt Cassel
- OLB Mike Vrabel
- WR Jabar Gaffney
- LS Lonie Paxton
- LB/ST Larry Izzo
- FB Heath Evans
- RB LaMont Jordan
Did I miss anyone? Anyway, the sky is falling! The place is falling apart! What was Hoodie thinking? Relax. Is there anyone on that list that makes you put your head in your hands, that makes you nervous for the coming season? I thought not. Sure, Matt did a lot for us, but he was going to sit on the bench this year taking up $16.5 million in cap space. Vrabel? Definitely a fan favorite, this one hurt, but Mike is getting on in years and may have lost a step. KC is the place for him; they need leadership and he's the guy to do it. LaMont bummed me out, but Taylor's got that covered. The others? I'm not too worried. So, before you get all concerned, let's move onto the acquisitions:
- CB Shawn Springs
- CB Leigh Bodden
- RB Fred Taylor
- WR Greg Lewis
- LS Nathan Hodel
So, to run this down, we picked up a vet (Springs) and a possible starter (Bodden) at CB, Taylor fills the gap for the departing Jordan, and LS is a wash as well as WR. We were already carrying three QBs and Brady on IR, so we'll be at three actives, the FB position was rarely used and Russ Hochstein has shown some talent in that area, Adalius Thomas and Pierre Woods will start at OLB with second year man Shawn Crable as backup (may need another OLB there).
By all accounts, we could field a darn good team, a playoff contender, without the draft. Yes folks, you read that right, WITHOUT the draft. Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post had this to say:
The Patriots have a complete team ready to compete in the NFL before the draft. I always felt that you had to attempt to cover your team needs before the draft so that you could enter the draft with the intention of taking the best player. Having the ability to be flexible in the draft allows you to just pick players and not have to worry about waiting for a certain player. The best drafts normally come from having the best offseasons. You enter the draft room with a sense of peace and know that if the chips don’t fall your way, your team can still go out and compete.
Lombardi knows football, so I trust his opinion. Belichick is now drafting from a position of strength. He's not desperate for anyone or any position, not biting his fingernails hoping, like a gambler at a blackjack table, that the cards will fall a certain way so he can make his mortgage payment this month. Belichick has managed some very clever transactions and has done so while leaving room to pickup up depth with one first rounder, a high second rounder, and two other second rounders. If you've followed Belichick long enough you know he's all about value, so the three second rounders are just his style.
Yes my friends, in Bill Belichick we trust. If Coach can take a banged up 2008 Patriots to the brink of an AFC title, just imagine what he'll do with his starting quarterback back under center, a solid secondary, and a well rested team. Just imagine...