Monday, October 15, 2007

The Patriots Act

I know it's not quite Super Bowl week, but there's something exciting going on in football right now -- the New England Patriots are playing at a higher level than any team I've ever seen in my whole entire middle-aged life. After watching them tear apart the Cowboys on Dallas' home field, I would be surprised if any team beats New England this year. They're 6-0, they've won five of their games by more than 20 points, and the other game they won by 17 -- not exactly a nailbiter.

Don't think I'm happy about this. At one point, I actually liked the Patriots. I rooted for them in their first two Super Bowl wins, especially when they all ran out on the field as a team and refused to have individual names announced during the pre-game hype. And how can you root against hardnosed old school guys like Tom Brady, Troy Brown, Teddy Bruschi, and Mike Vrabel? Then something happened to them. I'm pretty sure I know what it is, but I'm reluctant to come out and say it. But here it goes. I have a theory that the Patriots became evil.

It all started when the Patriots beat my beloved Colts yet again. I like Peyton Manning, and I rooted for him to overcome his nervousness problem in big games. Like Steve Young, he looked best against middling competition, but when he went up against a tough defense during the playoffs, he got happy feet and lost his confidence and timing. In the same way that it's much more interesting for me to see a cowering soldier overcome his fear than it is to watch a John Wayne guy lead a charge, I prefer the Steve Youngs and Peyton Mannings to the Joe Montanas and Tom Bradys. During the playoffs a few years ago, Manning played well, but the Patriots took advantage of loose officiating and practically tackled the Colts receivers on every play. Insult to injury, at the end of the game, once they knew it was in the bag, the Patriots openly mocked the Colts and their fans. Yeah, that's right. The Patriots hurt my feelings. When the Patriots went on to win their third Super Bowl title, I hated them as much as I hated the Cowboys and Steelers back in the 70s. The Patriots are the kind of team that keeps a low profile and doesn't talk trash until they have the game in hand, and then wham! They let it all out, and start dancing on the opponent's helmet logo at midfield. I hate guys like that. And now they're running up the score.

The Colts are the only team that appears to be in the same league as the Patriots (in the same way that the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays are in the same league). The Patriots haven't beaten the Colts since that awful game -- the Colts have won three straight, including an enormously fulfilling come-from-behind victory in last year's AFC championship game -- but both teams are different now. The Patriots added three talented receivers, including one of the best receivers of all-time, and an all-pro linebacker to their team, while the Colts lost a bunch of players from last year's championship team. The Indy reserves have stepped up and the Colts are playing well, but at this point, if both teams play their best, the Colts will get beaten -- badly.

That said, there are two things in the Colts favor. First, they're the defending champions, but everyone is overlooking them since the Pats have been steamrolling everyone. It's no surprise that Manning plays much better when he's an underdog. Second, they've reversed roles with the Patriots. The Colts used to be a pass-first offense that ran the ball only to keep defenses honest. Now, they run more than they pass. The Patriots were a run-first team when they won their Super Bowls, but now they're pass happy. Great defenses can take away the pass, and the Patriots may no longer have the mindset to grind out a victory by running the ball.
We'll get a preview November 4, when the two teams play. If the Colts don't win that one, the Patriots are probably going to go undefeated. I'm getting nauseous just thinking about it.


  1. 'a great defense can shut down the pass game' Too bad the Colts don't have a great defense.

    My 5th grade Mighty Mights team was named the Colts. We went undefeated. Bobby, our coach, told us we had hearts the size of watermelons. We had a sleep-over at Bobby's house and he gave us beer. I think the Pats will lose 2 games.

    Bob, please e-mail me (richardson dan at yahoo dot com (make my name one word). I have an idea that just might make it so Adobe will be able to afford free sodas.

  2. hey now. the colts are #3 in pass defense, #13 in rushing defense, #2 in receiving defense (don't know how this differs from pass defense), #7 in scoring defense, etc. their defense isn't bad at all.

    and the pats, until the game with dallas, hadn't really played anyone that's any good.

    as a colts fan, i'm exceptionally nervous about the upcoming game between them. but i'm VERY sick of everyone annointing brady the current "best" QB. very. very. tired. of. it.

  3. andy, far be it from me to be argumentative, but I must interject that the offenses the Colts have played are not that good. Combined, the offenses they've played are exaclty average, and the two good offenses they've played did pretty well against the Colt's defense (for instance, the Broncs averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the Colts).

    I didn't say the Colt's defense was bad; I said that they're not great.

  4. let's not get all "undefeated" crazy. every few years, some team looks unstoppable, but it has been what, like 50 years (give or take) since the 72 dolphins, right?

    as that big head from espn says "that's why they play the games."

    bobby? your "beloved" colts? you live in indiana for a year or two, and now they're your "beloved" colts? ick.

  5. I fell in love with the Colts when I lived there, and they'll continue to be my beloved team until the nucleus is broken up. Then I'll jump on another bandwagon, which for me will be a team that loses several heartbreakers in a row to a team I despise. That's the problem with moving around so much. I can't settle on a favorite team. Or maybe I should just fake it.

  6. Dear Mr. Web Logger Dude,

    Please wake me up when hockey season is over and you start writing about normal human concerns again.


  7. Good words.