July 23, 2014

A Well-Timed Reality Check

By Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff

Wow, what a difference nine days can make.

Following last week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New England Patriots were made out to be some sort of boogeyman that would appear in scary bedtime stories to burgeoning young quarterbacks.

“In the land called the NFL, it was the end of Week 2 of the 2011 preseason and much to everyone’s chagrin a 14-2 New England had gotten much better. Opposing coaches now had to contend with quarterback hunters Haynesworth, Ellis, Anderson and Carter now patrolling a revamped defensive line. This line would give the Patriots an edge they so desperately lacked in the previous few campaigns. As if this was not bad enough, New England’s secondary added Ras-I Dowling, Leigh Bodden and James Sanders to an already quickly maturing group of corners and safeties. Not to be outdone, the Patriots offense added Ochocinco, drafted a surprisingly good Stevan Ridley and solidified their left tackle position for years to come.

What was poor Josh Freeman left to do, as he watched his offensive line overwhelmed while the score got progressively more lopsided?  After last week, there were even whispers of New England going undefeated.

This week, after a wretched performance against a very game Lions team, the tune has changed quite significantly. Now pundits are chattering about how:

  • The Patriots offensive line was exposed as unfit to protect Tom Brady long enough for him to make his reads.
  • They also couldn’t create any decent running holes for Woodhead and Green-Ellis to squirt through.
  • The corners couldn’t defend top tier wide receivers.

Now, I realize that it would be completely  hypocritical of me to read too much into this loss after writing last week’s article about how the preseason has little barring on the regular season. If winning big against a good Bucs team should be taken with a grain of salt, then so should a good drubbing by the Lions. Last year, the Rams demolished the Patriots in Week 3 of the preseason, and well, that didn’t stop New England from winning 14 regular season games.

I do find it interesting  however, to hear and read about how happy some people are about the fact that the Patriots were exposed and got a wake up call. It seems that people were yearning for the Patriots to be hungry and humble as opposed to the unstoppable juggernaut. There is an old sports adage that to be number 1, you have to train like your number 2.

Look for the Patriots to come out aggressively in Week 1 of the regular season, until then just enjoy watching some of the young pups give it their all in Week 4 of the preseason game.

About Dan Zeigarnik

Like Bill Belichick, Dan is a graduate of Wesleyan University. When he's not obsessing over the Patriots, Dan works as a project manager for a nonprofit organization aimed at helping Boston area youths. He has also managed a recent district political campaign.

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