Patriots Mix blog         Write for Patriots blog    

Patriots Mix blog featured writers Ed Mahan
Write about the Patriots
We believe that you the avid fan, student journalist, and or freelance writer deserve to be heard. Avid fans have a strong desire to hear from the common (or not so common) "man" as well. You are always free to write about the material of your choice, in your own unique style, and on your own schedule. So vent,enlighten and share with us!
Contact us at: writers@sportsmixed.com
Enjoy Patriots rumors, news, talk?
Please help us spread the word on the Sports Mixed Network by letting friends, and family know about it. The more we grow our community of avid fans, the more features we can add. So please send a Tweet, Facebook message or better yet tell them in person.

Who's #1?

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.
1/29/09

With Super Bowl week winding down and yet another NFL season nearing completion, fans of the New England Patriots find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Not only are the Pats not suiting up for the big game this Sunday, they haven’t taken the field in weeks. What are we to do with ourselves? Cry a river? Dust off the age-old (and thankfully retired) Red Sox slogan “Wait ‘till next year?” Please, let’s not do either.

Rather than focus on the absence of our team, I’d prefer to keep the red, silver, and blue in the mix this week. To do this, I’m going to help us answer a question about the great Patriots teams of the past. I’m going to figure out which of the six Patriots’ teams that made the Super Bowl is the best one. In other words, if all six teams were in a playoff, which team would win the whole enchilada? Unlike last year’s tournament, the Patriots really are assured of winning this one.

Before they can play, we have to seed those six teams in an equitable fashion. We can make this quick if we rank our six teams based on their playoff seedings from their respective years. This puts our playoff field into focus: Our first seed is the record-breaking 2007 Patriots, followed by 2003. Here’s where it gets dicey: the next three teams all had #2 playoff rankings. We’re going to put 2004 at #3, however, based on their 14-2 record. Next we have 2001 and 1996. Since those two teams had identical seeds (#2) and records (11-5), we will defer to the surprising ’01 Patriots since they actually won the Super Bowl that year. Rounding out our playoff bracket is the 1985 team, which had the #6 seed as a wild card.

Now that the seedings are set, all that’s left is to play the games. Naturally, the top two seeds (2007 and 2003) get a first round bye. This leaves two wild card games followed by two divisional round contests and finally the championship game. The lowest seeded team to win in the wild card round moves on to face the top-ranked 2007 team.

With that, let’s play our first game. This wild card game pits the strong ’04 Patriots against the “just glad to be here” ’85 team. At first glance, one might assume this would be a laugher from the get-go, but consider who the ’85 Patriots were and what they accomplished. Their defense was pretty stout, from Garin Veris on the line to an outstanding linebacking corps consisting of Andre Tippett, Don Blackmon, Steve Nelson, and Larry McGrew. The secondary was pretty good, too, with Ronnie Lippett, Raymond Clayborn, Fred Marion, and Roland James. Not a unit to simply dismiss based on the final score of Super Bowl XX. Many people forget that the defense actually played quite well that day. They forced two turnovers and were “this close” to Don Blackmon picking off a Jim McMahon pass and taking all the way to paydirt while the game was still within reach. Sadly, none of it mattered in the face of offensive ineptitude.

Facing this defensive unit is 5th year QB Tom Brady. Essentially, we have to determine if the Brady-led ’04 offense could score on the ’85 defense. The offensive line was pretty good, the receivers, including Deion Branch and David Givens, were solid, and Corey Dillon was enjoying his last monster year at running back. Was it enough? I think so, based on the O-line’s ability to protect Brady and his knack for finding the smallest cracks in virtually any defense. The ’04 offense has many long drives in this game and probably puts up two or three touchdowns and at least a field goal or two. One thing’s for sure, however, Dillon has never faced a better set of linebackers in his life. It’ll take him a week to recover from this game.

As far as the ’85 offense goes, let’s be honest about the most glaring weakness it had: Tony Eason at quarterback. No matter how you slice it, Eason was the weak link. Sure, he had a good arm and put up sizable numbers every now and then, but since the merger, he was easily the worst quarterback the Patriots ever took to the postseason. It’s too bad, for just as the ’85 team squandered an excellent offense with this guy under center in Super Bowl XX, it gets let down again here (with apologies to John Hannah, Stanley Morgan, Craig James, et al). Maybe they’d have a chance if Steve Grogan played, but as we know, the coaching staff wouldn’t have made the switch until it was too late.

2004 Patriots: 27 1985 Patriots: 13

Whereas the first wild card was decided in the pre-game coaches meetings, our second contest is a battle royale. Bill Parcells vs. Bill Belichick. A young Drew Bledsoe vs. a young Tom Brady. Adam Vinatieri vs. well, Adam Vinatieri. Could either team score? Could either team stop the other from scoring? Trying to figure out who wins this game is like dividing by zero. You’re pretty sure it isn’t possible, and the universe would most likely explode if you were successful, but if you’re an evil scientist like I am, it’s so damn tempting.

OK, so we have a serviceable offensive line paving the way for Bledsoe, Curtis Martin, Terry Glenn, and the best tight end I ever saw, Ben Coates. Facing them is a very underrated crew led by Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, and Tedy Bruschi (interestingly, these same guys played for the ’96 defense, too). There are those who will say, “Hey, the ’01 Pats held the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ to 17 points.” True. However, it is my assertion that if Madman Mike Martz didn’t inexplicably underutilize Marshall Faulk in that game, we might not be referring to New England as “Three-time Super Bowl Champions.” As it is, Parcells’ team scored 21 points on a very tough Green Bay defense and they’ll score on the ’01 Patriots as well, probably a fair amount, too.

What about Tom Brady scoring on the ’96 team? Well, half that defense was still with the team in ’01, so I’m guessing he knows their strengths and weaknesses as well as anybody. While the skill positions around him weren’t as good as the weapons Bledsoe enjoyed, Brady’s O-line was better at keeping the pressure at bay. By the end of the game, Brady’s offense will have scored barely enough points to match Bledsoe.

In an outcome a blind man could see coming, here’s the how the game ends: The ’01 Patriots tie the game in the fourth quarter with an interception return for a TD and force overtime. True to form, the lucky ’01 squad wins the coin-toss and elects to receive. After the ’96 defense puts the clamps on his counterpart, Bledsoe gets the ball back and drives down to the 29 yard line only to face a fourth and two. Instead of relying on a rookie kicker in Vinatieri, Parcells elects to go for it and Martin is stopped short.

Two runs and three passes later, Brady has his team on the ’96 30 yard line. Belichick, not having the same misgivings about his Vinatieri, trots his kicker out to end the game with a 47 yard attempt. The kick is good, Parcells quits, and the universe still exists.

2001 Patriots: 31 1996 Patriots: 28

(Next week: 2007 vs. 2001, 2003 vs. 2004, and the title game)

20 comments:

  1. with brady back next year the team should have a better chance at the super bowl

    ReplyDelete
  2. Doug,

    Great commentary....as a true Patriots fan, I can tell that you have done your research....

    Keep up the good work....looking forward to next installment.

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  3. No mercy! Sweep the leg!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Let's go Steelers!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great article. Looking forward to the next installment.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I enjoyed your analysis.
    Nice job..

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great article! Thanks for the good work. Who let the Steelers bum in here?

    ReplyDelete
  8. You guys have an extra QB. You should let one of 'em go, hopefully the Jets. We could sure use one!

    ReplyDelete
  9. If Brady can come back as strong as he was, I'm smelling another Super Bowl victory.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Excellent article

    I look forward to your next piece.


    Go Pats

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fantastc article Doug. Great analysis. Brady will cme back as strong as ever with strong determination. Waiting for the next segment.

    Steerpike

    ReplyDelete
  12. Pats just need Flutie back to make drop kicks! Fun article.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Interesting article. To bad you're stuck with that douchebag Brady.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Is this where I catch the Broncos and Cowboys updates?

    Honestly, interesting approach and analysis. Well written and I look forward to the next installment.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great Read - Go Pats!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nice read. Well thought out and brought back many, mostly positive, memories of Patriots past. Only 2 concerns from my seat here on the bench:

    1. If Ben Coates is the best TE you ever saw then you need to crack open the NFL Films vaults and watch some more. Kellen Winslow Sr., Shannon Sharpe, Ozzie Newsome, Dave Casper et al say hello.

    2. How will you top this incredible first article?

    JZ

    ReplyDelete
  17. Although I am a Miami Dolphin fan, I agree with most of your article. The exception comes with your remark on Tony Eason, that QB almost every time killed ALL my hopes and dreams especially at the end of every year. Maybe he wasn't consistant enough for a Patriots fan, but as a Miami fan he was a Miami killer.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Surprise!! Someone has finally written a collum to try to get us THINKING!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great article....I hope we get more like this from you Doug. That Miami Dolphin fan above....I am so sick of hearing how they won the AFC East. Next year will be a different story. Miami is going down....along with everyone else. I will look for more great articles from you in the future. :-)

    Jackie

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great read Doug. Keep it up. Looking forward to next weeks article.... One other thing I didn't know steeler, dolphin & jet fans could read. GO CARDS

    ReplyDelete