The Haphazard Blog

Patriots Season is Over

by on January 10, 2010 4:56 PM, under Football, Patriots, Sports

Another season ends poorly. It was almost fitting that the Patriots had their worst game of the year when it mattered the most. They came into the season as Super Bowl favorites (according to Las Vegas odds) and didn’t come anywhere close to the expectations laid out by the media. This season has been an effort in setting new lows.

As far as I can remember, Brady was pulled from a game for the first time in his career because they were losing so badly (vs. the Saints). Brady and Belichick have now lost their first home playoff game. Everything was simply uncharacteristic Patriots this season. For me the most telling was the Patriots lost 5 games that they led at half time (4 of them were by 10 or more points). In Bill Belichick’s first 9 seasons as Patriots head coach (2000-2008) they had lost only 5 games they led at half time, total.

In retrospect, some are saying this is a “rebuilding” year. It’s hard to believe that when the offense had almost all of the players they had in 2007, or 2008 when they had Matt Cassel at QB and won more games. Was Jabar Gaffney the entire difference? Maybe the offensive line is getting older. The defense was supposed to get younger and faster along with a much improved secondary. Did trading Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour hurt them badly? Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi retiring?

I think they need a player that can be disruptive to the passing game, especially getting after the QB.  But, I believe more of the blame this year falls on the shoulders of the offense. They produced in the first half, but then were anemic in the second half in too many games. Wishful thinking is Tom Brady was still getting back into the game and both he and Randy Moss suffered from other undisclosed injuries. If that is age related, then it’s not likely to be a one time occurrence. Wes Welker will likely miss half of the 2010 season, maybe all of it. He certainly won’t be his old self in 2010.

The Patriots had a pretty good draft last year. They got a lot of young players who contributed and it filled out their roster pretty well. I’m hopeful they will focus on trying to get a few impact players (trading up) instead of collecting contributors (trading down). My list right now looks like outside line backer/pass rusher, outside wide receiver, running back, cornerback, tight end and offensive lineman. They could fill some of these in free agency as well. It will be interesting to see how it ends up going.

If it’s an uncapped year, the Patriots avoided any restrictions on signing players with the wild card round loss. They are a high revenue team, so I wonder if they will spend at the top. Traditionally they have spent near the cap limit. It’s an interesting dynamic for the owners. They want to win and could get players that normally would’ve been very difficult under a salary cap. On the other hand, if they’re spending a lot, it’s hard to convince the players that the current split is inequitable. They can also cut players with no concern for the dead money. This part could be bigger than many anticipate given Tom Brady’s comments about commitment, discipline, working hard, etc. in comparison to the past. I think some surprising cuts are coming.

It should be an interesting off-season.

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