As the Patriots continue to enjoy their much deserved bye week as the NFL playoff begins, there have been some common concerns and comments regarding our favorite football team in New England. Let’s waste no more time and divulge into these questions.
Can the New England Patriots continue to get down early by multiple scores and expect to win in the playoffs?
I just see no way that the Patriots could beat anyone that’s playoff caliber by following the same recipe they have the past two weeks at home against the likes of Miami and Buffalo – two mediocre squads to say the least. I’m sure Bill Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff will be preaching start fast in the locker room leading up to the playoff tilt next Saturday.
Can a defense as bad as the Patriots lead them not only to the Super Bowl, but get there and win the whole thing?
The Patriots’ defense is certainly underwhelming to say the least – finishing 31st in total yards allowed in the NFL. With the “new” NFL however focusing on offense, it may be that teams offensively driven have a legitimate shot at winning it all, even if that means the defense is below average. The only defense in terms of yards that was worse than New England this year was the defending champion Green Bay Packers – who finished the regular season an NFL best 15-1. Clearly the regular season was all about offense with quarterbacks like the Patriots’ Tom Brady, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New Orleans’ Drew Brees lighting it up and putting up monster offensive numbers. That being said, the New England Patriots’ defense needs to continue to create turnovers, which they did in the regular season when they took the ball away 34 times, which tied for third place in the NFL. If the recipe of monster numbers for Brady and timely takeaways by the defense continues, I give the Patriots as a good a shot as anyone to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis next month.
Should Tom Brady be considered for MVP?
He should absolutely be in the discussion. Brady has carried a team that at times has shown no ability whatsoever to play defense. He has led arguably the best offense in the NFL to monster numbers yet again. Brady finished the season with 5,235 yards – a personal best and second highest total in NFL history. He threw for 39 touchdown passes and was only intercepted 12 times on the season. At the same time, the seasons of Rodgers and Brees were impressive and it will ultimately come down to those two. But I think I speak for everyone in New England when I say Tom Brady is the real MVP of the 2011 NFL season.
What happens if New England falls short in the AFC divisional round again?
Well, it’s almost unfathomable that such a situation would reoccur. Simply losing for the second straight year as the one seed at home would be inexcusable – something that would almost guarantee some sort of shakeup in Fort Foxboro. It would mean other year wasted in Brady’s prime years that are quickly evaporating – something unimaginable just several years ago. Brady will be 35 when next season rolls around, meaning his shelf life is looking realistically like just 3-4 more years. The Patriots need to capitalize while he’s still at the top of his game, and if it doesn’t happen again this year, a defensive shakeup would almost certainly occur. Whether that be changing philosophy, bringing in a big name defensive mind or splurging in free agency, there will almost certainly be some extra urgency from Belichick in the offseason if the season ends in another home upset at the hands of an inferior team.
Why don’t the Patriots use the no-huddle more often?
I think the Patriots view the no-huddle as more of a change of pace type of thing – something to keep in their back pocket to give them an extra boost at some point in the game. The problem with it is if you don’t keep the ball moving, drives will end rapidly, which in effect means more minutes for the suspect New England defense on the field. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise many I would assume if the Patriots’ offense comes out in the no-huddle as a way to help start fast, and avoid the slow starts we saw the past two weeks.
Statistics courtesy of NFL.com
Photo courtesy of patriots.com