September 30, 2016

Take A Lap – 2006 Deion Branch

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Okay, stay with us. In 2006, receiver Deion Branch sat out the beginning of the season in an attempt to work out a bigger, better contract. The Patriots tried to make do with Reche Caldwell and Doug Gabriel, adding Jabar Gaffney midway through the season. After a superhuman effort from Tom Brady, that team fell a minute short of winning the AFC Championship.

In 2007, Coach Bill Belichick made a concerted effort to make it up to Brady, getting Randy Moss and Wes Welker. This led to the greatest offense in NFL history and one of the biggest upsets in that year’s Super Bowl when the defense failed to hold a four-point lead in the final minutes.

Since Branch’s holdout the Patriots have evolved into the type of squad that has to outscore opponents because they cannot stop them. Though the passing proficiency has proven entertaining at times, it has failed to garner overall success. When thinking of Super Bowls, these names come to mind: David Patten, David Givens, Troy Brown and Branch. Not a Hall of Famer in the Bunch, but plenty of fat rings to go around.

Sunday’s collapse vs. Baltimore was about as much fun to watch as a vasectomy, largely because New England lost sight of what made them great five years ago (for clarification, see: 2009 Ravens and Jets). Therefore, Deion Branch, for breaking your contract and eventually coaxing the Patriots into taking the wrong path, you can take the final lap of the ill-fated 2009 season.

And, hey, if you want to come back to Foxboro, that’s cool, too.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Comments

  1. Aaron Bennett says:

    that’s pretty funny, but I look at it like this — Deion Branch breaking his contract was a good thing for this team. Otherwise, 2007 would never have happened. Not to mention, Deion Branch hasn’t played a complete season since and he’ll likely be out of football or begging for a bench role next season.

    • Chris Warner says:

      Aaron, what makes 2007 so great? Offensive records? MVP awards? Suddenly the Patriots became the Colts: an offensive powerhouse with a defense that wasn’t quite good enough to win it all. I wish that season had never happened, which is why I only half-jokingly blame Deion Branch for the state the team is in today.
      We are looking at one of those dreaded “finesse” teams, one that excels against inferior competition but can’t take a punch in the mouth. Time to revamp the defense, toughen up the offense, and employ more “Belichick-type” guys who are willing to sacrifice for the team.
      The dynasty ended in February 2005. Time to get back to the basics of blocking and tackling.

  2. Very funny. Nice way to wrap up the season. What were his post Patriots stats like anyway?

    OK, now, seriously – everyone who booed the team on Sunday, “Take a Lap”. Seriously!

    I hope every God fearing Patriots fan, when saying their prayers on a Sunday, thank God for giving the Tom Brady. They then should thank Tom Brady for taking a massive pay cut while playing for the Patriots.

    (here, take a look at where Brady falls: http://content.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/salaries/playersbyposition.aspx?pos=144&order=Salary+desc)

    Now, think about all those Super Bowl wins, the 16-0 season, because all of that came from having a quality QB AND depth at various other positions.

    Now, think about what happens if Brady says “screw you guys, I’m getting paid”. If Brady starts getting paid 20 million a year, the “Patriot way” gets thrown out the window, and you can expect many early trips home in January (if we even GET to January, that is).

    So, all of you who saw fit to boo a struggling team who just didn’t have the quality and/or game plan on the day….go, now, take a lap. Thank you.

    • Chris Warner says:

      David, I respect the history, but at one point during the game did you cheer? I cheered for Julian Edelman three times (the 2 TDs and the incredible first down screen that got called back), maybe Leigh Bodden once, Kevin Faulk twice. What else? What about New England’s effort got you excited about this game? We can say it ended on the first play from scrimmage.
      I’m with Tom Brady – “I would have booed us, too.” Horrible game. Embarrassing.
      The only good thing to come out of this game will be the abandonment of fair weather fans, but real fans have even more right to boo.

      • No Chris – I didn’t cheer. I was astonished. I was sickened. But there’s a difference between sitting on your hands and booing. You know what, we’re damn lucky Tom Brady is harder on himself than any of us could be on him. We’re lucky the team has the mental fortitude to deal with that crap. Many other players can’t.

        Hey, I understand passion (seriously, my wife and daughter don’t come near me when game time arrives), and I understand that in difficult times like these, splashing out on those playoff tickets is the equivalent to a family vacation. I understand the disappointment, I’m not trying to cover that over.

        But people who turn on the team at the first sign of adversity – I wouldn’t mind if this was the first time the crowd booed, but it’s become commonplace.

        Not winning by 30? Not winning a Super Bowl? eh, lets boo the team. It’s just ridiculous, and the team, collectively, hasn’t earned what they received from the crowd, quite yet.

        Cheers.

  3. Chris, I agree with you for the most part.

    Naturally, the media took Branch’s side, because they ALWAYS have to take the player’s side when it comes to Belichick vs. player matchups. But Branch was wrong to hold out on his contract and force their hand like that.

    I also agree with you that BB’s offseason moves in 2007 largely were designed to “make it up” to Brady for putting him through the 2006 season.

    I also agree that I wish 2007 had never happened. I was concerned all season long that the defense wasn’t tough enough (when they win games 48-27, I tend to focus on the 27, not the 48). But that said, the one thing that killed them that year was losing Colvin in Game 11. If he doesn’t get hurt I believe they win it all. One thing that’s forgotten about that season is that in the first 10 games, whenever they needed a big play in the pass rush late in games, it was Colvin who made it (late in the Dallas game and late in the Indy game, in particular). In the Super Bowl, he wasn’t there.

    The main tenor of your aricle is 100% spot on, however….this has become a finesse team; the 2004 Colts only not as explosive. They don’t like to get hit in the mouth and they can’t run for a first down on 3rd and 2 if their lives depended on it.

    It’s time to put 2007 completely in the rear-view mirror and finally get back to playing “Patriot” football.

    That said, I’m not one of these forgetful, whiney types who looks at a 10-6, division-title winning season and says that it was a “bad” year—I lived through the 2-14 and 1-15 seasons, so I appreciate any playoff year, no matter how brief their stay in the post-season.

    • Chris Warner says:

      Tony, good point on Colvin. He certainly would have made a difference had he been playing in peak condition. As far as the 2-14, 1-15 years, it’s easy to forget about them with the Pats’ recent success. I think what scared me about this year was the apparent lack of effort coupled with the overall hopelessness that sprung up during a couple of games – reminiscent of the aforementioned darker times (though, of course, on a much smaller scale). This year they had games where they just weren’t involved. That needs to change, and I really think it will.

      • You know Chris, I think we differ on the perception of the problem – you cite “lack of effort”, personally, and I’m not sure if Tony/others would agree, I just don’t think the team was good enough. I think they got outplayed at various times this season.

        The team doesn’t have the depth at receiver to play the spread offense, and the O Line just isn’t built to play a power running game (although they did well at times this season). What the Patriots of 2007, and prior, did have was clockwork consistency, and that just wasn’t there this year. In the past, they would take their time, line up, and run any play they wanted – impose their will on the opponent. The team just isn’t good enough to do that right now, IMHO, and the crowd (mob?) is unused to that.

  4. I should start my own thread instead of hijacking everyone elses!

    As I said, I don’t think the team is good enough to impose its will on other teams, in a “run any play we want to” manner.

    I think, for me, the memory that sticks with me the most is “the drop” – one dropped ball from icing the game and walking to a 4th superbowl (the NFC was weak, at the time), so adding Moss/Welker, i mean, can you fault them? For most of this decade, the Pats/Colts have been playing “keeping up with the jones”. The difference now is that WE have competition within our division, the Colts have the Titans, Texan and Jags!

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