Sporting a 10-3 record and fresh off their third comeback victory in as many games casual Patriot fans believe all is well with and the Belichick/Brady combination is capable of winning anywhere-anytime. Those that watch the play of the team rather than the scoreboard have added “lucky” to their list of appropriate adjectives for describing the Patriots recent wins. Lost somewhere in the accolades of a QB’s “clutch” 4th quarter comebacks is the fact the same QB couldn’t keep pace with the opponents scoring. I’d really prefer the boring type of QB that takes and holds a lead from early in the game.
This isn’t the team Belichick envisioned fielding at the end of 2012. The defense was coming together nicely and the offense would withstand a few additions and subtractions. The team was expecting its tight end duo of Gronkowski and Hernandez ready for week one and the emergence of Vereen provided dependable targets. Add a veteran WR in free agency, a few more draftees, resign Welker and thirty plus points per game would result. Trading Welker for Amendola wasn’t such a big deal with all the above working in its favor. It all looked real good but you still have to play the games and the Patriots problems started before they did.
Of course the first blow was Hernandez, an unpredictable occurrence in my opinion. I know players with DUI’s, domestic assaults, nightclub altercations, or bad attitudes are scrutinized but there aren’t prior acts to screen murderers with. Next on the list is the mysterious Gronkowski recovery. Mysterious in that I couldn’t follow what the problem was. Broken bones were healed and not healed, metal plates went in and out, infections came and went, good back, bad back. I do know he wasn’t ready to start and no veteran WR free agent lasted long either.
So the games started with no Gronk, Hernandez, and then Amendola’s bumps and bruises came along. Brady found himself working with a group of inexperienced receivers. Not to worry, the defense was picking up the slack. At least it was until that started to falter when Wilfork, Mayo, and Vollmer caught the IR train out of town. Gronk came back but has now left for the season. Somehow this team will limp into the playoffs because of Belichick’s coaching, Tom Brady, and more than a little luck.
After watching the team struggle with the now 2-11 Texans and 4-9 Browns realistic Patriot fans watch every game with their fingers crossed. If they win in Miami and clinch the division that is probably the only title they win this year.
There’s a limit to how many times next man up can work and despite the 10-3 record this just isn’t the Patriots year.