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I am going to resist doing any kind of in depth postmortem of the Patriots season because I have to believe that it’s obvious that the loss of a few key people played a major role in the way things turned out. It especially hurt to lose RB Dion Lewis so early on, and then to have tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer absent from the offensive line for so much of the season was a real killer. These factors alone were likely the difference between going 12-4, rather then 14-2, which cost the Pats home field advantage and the opportunity to host the championship game. But having said that, that doesn’t mean I am without any closing observations on the season before moving on to other matters, so here goes…

 

LOSS OF FAITH:

 

 

I could not shake the feeling over the last month or so of the season that Coach Belichick had lost faith in some aspects of the operation, as there seemed to be a decided difference in the way he was making decisions. It reminded me of years gone by when it was obvious that he did not believe his team had all the tools needed to win. I’m assuming now that the issues that the Pats were having with the offensive line went beyond injuries. Even giving credit to the Denver defensive, there is no way that Tom Brady should have been hit a record twenty times in the championship game. That’s why I was not surprised when offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo was fired so soon after their return from Denver. Now there are reports that the Pats are trying to lure former line coach Dante Scarnecchia out of retirement as the first step in alleviating this problem. One way or another, I would expect that this will be an area they try to strengthen this off season.

 

BUSINESS DECISION:

 

 

You have to wonder if the business side of Robert Kraft’s enterprises check with football operations when they agreed to host the NHL’s “Winter Classic” at Gillette Stadium this past January. It was, as the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin referred to in his Sunday column (2/14/16)  a “Classic Blunder”. Because of it, the Patriots had to play their last two games on the road, losing both of them, and thereby missing out on the top seed and the before-mentioned home field advantage. I have to assume that hosting the Classic, along with several other accompanying events, was enough of a business bonanza for Kraft to not mind missing out on another Super Bowl appearance. I doubt Pats fans would agree.

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T:

 

 

If ever there was ever a unit that would have been justified in pulling the “we don’t get no respect” card, it was the Broncos defense. I saw very few predictions that had Denver winning either the AFC Championship game or the Super Bowl, with some predicting they would fall to New England by as many as three touchdowns. They proved a great many people wrong. Having said that, I have to believe that the Pats’ “D” wasn’t far behind them and likely could also have defeated the Panthers in the big game. Now that’s frustrating…

 

GROWING PAINS:

 

 

You can say what you want about Tom Brady, but you have to concede that there is no way he fails to come up with that fumble. Granted it took a sort of awkward bounce, but you are talking late in the championship game and deep in your own territory, with the game’s outcome still on the line. There should be no way Cam Newton fails to at least make a definitive attempt at the recovery. There is also no way that Tom Brady does not handle the post game press conference with more class. I’m sure that eventually Newton will be included on the list of all-time greats, but first he has some growing up to do. Handling the bad with the good is part of growing up. Let’s hope he’s learned a lesson.

Jerry Ballgame

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

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