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Patriots are back in '09 - Should AFC East be worried?

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I like this picture.  There's no greater joy in football than watching a QB/WR combo of the highest caliber do their thing on the field.  The Patriots' 2007 season firmly planted Brady/Moss as one of the greatest single season passer/receiver combinations in NFL history.  And if y'all recall, they broke their respective records on the same play: 50 touchdown passes for Brady and 23 touchdown receptions for Moss.  In addition, they went ahead of the New York Giants in Week 17 to seal up their 16-0 regular season.  Let's take a look at that catch, shall we?

There were four reactions to Brady going down in our first 2008 outing against the Chiefs:

  • The world has ended (Pats fan)
  • Dude, sorry to hear it (many good natured rival fans)
  • Winning against the Pats doesn't mean diddley now (again, many rival fans)
  • Now my team has a chance (the AFC East)

Well, 2008 was a wacky year for the East.  Buffalo started out sooooo strong, but couldn't maintain.  The Jets jetisoned Chad Pennington in favor of His Favreness and faded out towards the end of the year.  Miami, influenced by Patriots' coaching alumnist Bill Parcells, turned a 1-15 2007 Fins into the 2008 AFC East Champions.  And then there was our Patriots.  Rocked by injury after injury, not the least of which was 2007 NFL MVP Tom Brady, they trudged on to narrowly miss taking the East.

This year is different.  DROY Jerod Mayo is the future of our linebacker corps and he's a beast.  Vrable's trade has opened up a spot for Pierre Woods to show his stuff and give second year Shawn Crable more of a chance to see some time.  LaMont Jordan's departure to Denver has cleared the way for Fred Taylor and we've strengthened up our TE position with the signing of Chris Baker.  Jabar Gaffney's "go west young man" adventure allowed us to pull in two experienced receivers capable of working in between Welker and Moss.

Then there's Tom.  mad props to Matt Cassel for being ready and doing what he did in 2008.  Ask any rival fan how they would've handled their backup QB taking the reins for the season and they'd most likely be praying to the porcelain god.  I lamented Matt never developed that elusive connection with Moss that Brady seems to have.  There were moments, don't get me wrong (that impossible catch at the end of the second Jets game to send it into overtime), but those were the exceptions.  Sure, Moss let DB's jostle the ball loose more than I remember in 2007, but I do believe you need to throw it PAST Moss.  Just one man's opinion.

This team has been to so many championships in the last seven or so years that they have had less time off than any other team; the price of success.  Well, they're rested now.  And they'll be ready.  Randy has got to be happy Brady's back.  There are very few pairings in the NFL more productive and cool to watch than Brady and Moss.  A thing of beauty.

Brady's back, rested team, new blood, and four picks on the first day of the draft.  Saddle up rivals, saddle up.  Y'all better learn to like Chowdah.