It occurred to me the other day that this is as good as it gets. Currently, the Patriots are coming off the greatest Super Bowl upset since Joe Namath in Super Bowl III while winning the franchise's first Super Bowl. They have managed to keep the championship roster in tact (ask the Ravens how easy that is!) and are opening the new stadium on Monday Night Football. It's all Patriots, all the time, and don't we love it?
However, in this euphoria, perhaps Patriots Nation is setting itself up for a letdown that could be avoided. Realistically, it is very difficult to repeat. You have to be talented, stay relatively injury free, enjoy unexpected breakout seasons from some players, and get (and take advantage of) a lot of fortuitous breaks. Given that precursor, what would realistically constitute a good, enjoyable season for the Patriots? It would seem that 10 wins and a trip to the playoffs would be a reasonable expectation. Keep in mind that they are playing a much tougher first-place schedule this year. This tougher schedule includes five games in twenty-five days in November. Four of the five are road games against Buffalo, Oakland, Detroit, and Chicago. November is traditionally the cruelest month for the Patriots and this year could be no exception. However, if there ever is a coach and a team that will better prepared for such a tough stretch than Bill Belichick and the Patriots, I'm open to suggestions.
Believe me, I'm just as excited as the next guy about this season. What's not to love about the Patriots right now? A great group of players, a first-class owner, a new stadium, and a no-nonsense head coach. All I am saying is that it is my hope that the knives stay in the drawer if you have to cancel those plane reservations for San Diego in January.
Now onto everybody's favorite part of the column, the Zingers (thanks to my brother Brian for the copyright usage of the phrase "zingers")..........
You have to tip your hat to Rich Gannon for not walking out with the rest of his Raiders teammates when they were scheduled to meet with NFL referees at their training camp a few weeks ago. Essentially, Gannon said "Hey, it's over, it's time to move on, we had a ton of opportunities to put the game away and we didn't." Incidentally, did you know that Gannon was initially a Patriots draft pick as a defensive back? When he insisted on playing quarterback, the Patriots released him. Geez, they sure did have an eye for talent back in the nuclear winter days of the early 1990s, didn't they?
While I'm on the subject, the next time the token Raiders fan in your office starts shouting out "after reviewing the play..." remind him or her that Brady went 10-10 in the snow on that drive, the Raiders had at least two 3rd down and 1's to finish the Patriots off that they couldn't convert on, and that a 48-yard field goal in those conditions maybe perhaps a more difficult kick than a record-tying 63-yard field goal in a dome.
I'm tired of hearing all this baloney coming out of the Rams camp about how the Patriots defense clutched, grabbed, and mugged the Rams offense all day long. The Rams seemed to forget they were not playing flag football but rather tackle football that day. Incidentally, isn't it great to hear the phrases "Patriots" and "very physical" used in the same sentence?
I'm surprised that Maguala Tuitele was released. It appeared that he was holding his own at middle linebacker and was finally going to stick around.
Wait until you get a load of the new Buffalo Bills white jersey! Yikes, that's tough on the eyes!
If you are not passing by Bill Simmons' columns on ESPN.com's Page 2 (after spending all kinds of time here at patsfans.com, of course), then you are really missing out. Simmons writes with a Boston angle and is quite funny. Just about every time I finish his columns, I am struck with envy at how I wish I could articulate my thoughts like him.
Stop by Miguel's salary cap page here at patsfans.com. I've never met this Miguel but it is quite obvious that he needs a new hobby. Trust me, check it out even if you are not a Patriots fan. I've never seen anything like it before on the web.
All this talk about Miami springing past the Patriots because of Ricky Williams is unfounded. He is prone to injury. Jay Fiedler is a decent, servicable quarterback but nothing spectacular. And the Dolphins always pile up wins in the humidity of September and October and then come back to Earth when the leaves start dropping.
Lastly, the webmaster for Patsfans.com, Ian Logue, deserves a great big "atta-boy" for rescuing the website last week from server hell. Keep in mind this site is done by fans, for fans, and that we do the best we can. Enjoy the Pittsburgh game, it's going to be great!