Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Are the Patriots the 'Smartest guy in the room'?

Peter King posted a piece today declaring the Patsies to be best team in the AFC right now:

He states that the Patriots high profile free agent signings have moved them ahead of the Colts and Chargers in the AFC. He notes that while this seems to be a change in the highly successful strategy the Patriots (and the Colts) have used in the recent past of not signing high priced free agents, he claims it's just that the Pats never won any of the other players they bid on.

King seems to find himself very much on one side of a divide that is separating out football writers these days. Every year there is an issue that divides the smart from the stupid. This it's: Should we crown the Patriots as front runners or chide them for departing what worked? Are they smart or desperate? (By the way, the line of demarcation among writers last year was whether it was a mistake for the Colts to let Edge walk. Cold Hard Football Facts and Jeremy Green were among the geniuses that declared it to be death for the Colts)

My question is this: if they were so smart, why did they give away a Super Bowl title by playing all last year with old linebackers, no wideouts and millions of dollars of cap money left unspent?

There's no point in breaking down each player move the Pats made, but let's take for a moment the wideouts. I think that this will once and for all prove that "Manning has great numbers because of his wideouts. Brady never has anyone to throw to" is a load of crap. Brady's wideouts, until last year, were never that bad. Moreover, Tom Brady is who he is. No matter who he's throwing to these will be his numbers:

Yards-3800; Comp %- 62% TDs-25, Ints-15 Rating-88

I predict Tom Brady will throw painfully close to exactly those numbers next year even though the Pats have spent millions on wideouts. He will NOT break 4000 yards, 28 Tds or a rating of 92.
Why? Because that's who he is. Every year. That's their offense; that's his ability. King claims that Donte Stallworth is Brady's best deep threat ever. That's fine, but they play in an offense that doesn't throw deep. Brady's skills are clear: managing the game, playing behind a great D, and impregnating women.

King also claims that Laurence Maroney is ready to become a 300 carry back. He only made it through 14 games and 175 carries last year. By playoff time he was spent, averaging 2.8 ypc in the playoffs (87 yards on 31 carries) and only 1.4 ypc in his final two games (SD and Indy). This was against two of the 10 worst rushing defenses in the league. Laurence Maroney is NOT a 300 carry back. At least not an effective one.

There is a popular theory out there that says the Patriots won their Super Bowls because they were smart and had Tom Brady. I think the truth is that Bellicheck built a great defense and it carried the team. That defense is now old. They added one, albeit good player in Thomas on d, and a bunch of players on offense. This is not what made them good in the first place, and it is not smart.

The Patriots are at the end of their run and desperately trying to hang on. I predict that this run of free agency dooms the franchise after this year, and Tom Brady never makes it back to a Super Bowl.

1 comment:

Demond Sanders said...

The Pats' built much of their past two runs on homefield advantage based on their regular season record. They dominated the AFC East for a long time, and that run of dominance is showing signs of ending. They lost 2 division games in 2006. Those 2 losses were the difference between the 1 seed in the AFC and the 4 seed. We all know how that turned out.

As long as the Colts win the home game against them, there is nothing to fear from Foxboro. I'd like to say that the law of averages say the Colts and Pats won't be there yet again in January 2008, but these teams were largely ignored all year and it still came down to them in January.