Be cool or concerned? Reasons for New England Pats fans to be both
The Patriots haven't won a game since mid-January,
But should Patriots fans be worried, or be chilling? Is this just the (yawn) meaninglessness of preseason, or could it portend the trouble that lays ahead in 2008 for
We give you all the reasons to be either concerned or cool about what's going down in Foxboro:
Have you seen New England's offense with reserve quarterbacks
Add it all up and it's enough to get
The good news about Brady's sore foot is he has confirmed it's not the same ankle injury that plagued him in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl last winter. So we're not talking about a chronic, lingering issue here. At this point in his career, with the continuity that exists between him and his receivers this year, I'm confident Brady could roll out of bed on the morning of the season opener and play an efficient and productive game.
Exhibition game action, or no exhibition game action, Brady has made 127 consecutive starts when it matters, in the regular season and the playoffs. Let's let him miss one before the sky starts falling in Foxboro.
Is it possible New England's crushing Super Bowl loss to the upstart Giants punctured the sense of invincibility that had surrounded Belichick's team? Say what you will about the supposed Super Bowl loser syndrome, but seven of the last 10 teams to lose the big game didn't even make the playoffs the following season. That's not a trend to dismiss out of hand. Teams can struggle with the mental funk that a Super Bowl letdown creates, perhaps even the mentally tough Patriots. We know this: No team has ever had a more painful loss to recover from. When you're 18-0 and lose the last one, you're in uncharted waters the next season.
For some perspective, consider that New England went 2-2 in the preseason last year prior to its record-breaking 18-1 run. In fact, since 2004, New England's most recent Super Bowl-winning season, the Patriots have gone 1-3, 2-2, 2-2 and 2-2 in August (7-9 overall), before flipping the switch to on and rolling to a 60-15 (.800) mark in the regular season and playoffs thereafter. Can a team's preseason performance set the tone for the regular season? Yes. Has it done so in New England lately? Not by a long shot.
And did we mention Tampa Bay rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 first-half carries, an average gain of six yards per pop against New England's mostly first-team defense? In particular,
If that's where we're headed, what might the Chiefs and their
While the injury situation in the secondary is again a concern -- when is it not in New England? -- it appears the Patriots dodged a potential bullet with the news that the leg injury suffered by second-year safety
On the brightest note of all this preseason in New England, rookie linebackers
We all know where a shaky offensive line could lead in New England. All you have to do is scroll back up top and re-read the section on how critical Brady's health is to his team's Super Bowl chances. After the Ravens game, the worry was that the Giants might have provided the rest of the league a blueprint for how to shut down the Patriots offense via the pass rush, exploiting New England's suddenly susceptible offensive line in the process.
Another big test, however, looms this week, because the Philadelphia Eagles will visit Gillette Stadium on Friday night for each team's "dress rehearsal'' third preseason game. Eagles defensive coordinator
As for the rest of the AFC, San Diego is hell-bent on avenging its two recent playoff losses to the Patriots, and Indy, Jacksonville and Tennessee aren't going to just drop off the radar screen in the tough AFC South. Could it be that the rest of the conference has significantly closed the gap on the NFL's reigning dynasty?
Try as I might, I can't get the mere mortal version of the Patriots to take a tumble any lower than 12-4. True, it's not the stuff that will get