In the Face Of Adversity, The Patriots Will Rise
The New England Patriots have endured a lot of misfortune in recent times with Wednesday’s arrest of Aaron Hernandez being the tip of the iceberg when the former Patriots tight end was charged with murder resulting in him being cut from New England’s roster. The fact that the franchise lost its best receiver in the shape of Wes Welker this off-season to AFC rivals the Denver Broncos, albeit the Patriots’ decision, in hindsight you would say that it may be a slight regret considering that the team have just lost another one of its offensives best weapons due to these unfortunate circumstances. The franchise made the right decision in immediately cutting ties with Aaron Hernandez as you can’t condone what he has done and now the Patriots will move forward to prepare for the 2013 NFL season.
New England have faced adversity before and are looking to bounce back from the teams unfortunate defeat in the AFC title game on January 20th this year which saw the Patriots uncharacteristically crumble in the second quarter after leading at halftime; Tom Brady & co were previously 67-0 in games when leading at halftime before that defeat and had also never lost an AFC championship game at home until the 28-13 loss. Considering the sour defeat, the loss of key players and the fact that the New England Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2004 despite appearing in two since you could say that now more than ever that the franchise is staring adversity straight in the face. The argument of not winning a Super Bowl since the Spygate saga, albeit not a valid point, has still not been put to bed giving rival fans something to annoy Patriots supporters with and the wounds have never truly healed after missing out on a shot of redemption when they lost against the Giants at Super Bowl XLVI after the New Yorkers previously defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII when the team had a shot at perfection after going in to the game 18-0.
2013 looks to be a big challenge for Bill Belichick and his team as his defense continues to develop through young talent whilst the offense sees Tom Brady line up without three of his top four offensive weapons from the 2012 campaign as Rob Gronkowski is recovering from multiple surgeries and is in a race against time to be fit for the start of the season. Despite the fact that Brady has no top receivers he always succeeds but it is safe to say that at almost 36 years old and with the window for a coveted 4th Super Bowl championship closing recent events have given Brady possibly his biggest challenge to date. Now is the time to stand up and be counted and who else could the Patriots ask for as their leader other than Tom Brady as he is a man who strives to win and that winning mentality runs strong throughout the entire New England organisation. Tom Brady knows what it is like to be in a tough spot as when he first came in to the league he was written off with many people expecting little of the former 6th round pick out of Michigan but nevertheless he went on to win his first Super Bowl as a second year QB when he came in to replace the injured Drew Bledsoe as the teams starter.
Following that fairytale Brady then went on to guide the Patriots to back to back Super Bowl wins in 2003 and 2004 as the team established itself as a dynasty. Since Brady became the Patriots’ starting quarterback the team has appeared in 5 Super Bowls and won 3; he has also won two Super Bowl MVP awards. Overall in his career Brady has a postseason record of 17-7 meaning that his playoff win total is the highest in NFL history and the quarterback has also helped set the record the longest consecutive win streak in NFL history with 21 straight wins over two seasons (2003-2004). He holds the NFL record for the most touchdown passes in a single regular season (50) and has been selected to eight pro bowls. Among quarterbacks with at least 1,500 career passing attempts Tom Brady has the third highest career passing rating of all time among QB’s (96.6) and in 2012 he became the first quarterback in the leagues history to lead his team to 10 division titles. Along with Joe Montana he and Brady are the only two players in NFL history to win the Super Bowl MVP award and NFL MVP award multiple times.
Despite all that has gone on the New England Patriots know how to deal with anything affecting the franchise on and off the field. The Aaron Hernandez situation is an unfortunate circumstance and sadly not all people know how to deal with superstardom; to quote Abraham Lincoln “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” and in this case money as well as fame was Hernandez’s power but sadly it all got to his head and it appears he’s made a decision that will affect him for the rest of his life. On the field Hernandez’s versatility was invaluable but in the 2012 season he did miss over two months of and the Patriots offense continued to tick with it finishing the regular season overall with the top scoring offense in the league. The likes of Jake Ballard, Mike Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells will compete to earn a starting spot on the roster along with Gronkowski once he is fit but the Patriots running game will be key to any success in the foreseeable future with the likes of Ridley and Vereen now gaining extra importance in this offense ahead of the 2013 season.
Thankfully for the Patriots in terms of football they have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick with the two combining to form one of the most successful quarterback-coach tandems in NFL history with the two winning 125 regular season games along with 17 postseason games together as well as appearing in 5 Super Bowls which are all NFL records. Brady has never had a stellar supporting cast with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Troy Brown being the only three standout receivers Brady has had at his disposal during his time as the team’s QB. Deoin Branch was a product of the system and worked well with Brady and the likes of David Patten, David Givens and Charles Johnson while despite part of the franchises dynasty hardly are the types of offensive weapons that would set a team alight. Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth are the other two receivers who gave Brady good production but again it is Brady himself who makes his receivers produce the good. You could argue with age that he has become a better quarterback so he will deal with whatever he is given; he and Danny Amendola have built up a good rapport during this off-season and he has Julian Edelman returning from injury who if you remember was starting ahead of Wes Welker at the start of the 2012 season. Rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce both have the potential to be a success in New England and will most likely get a chance to prove themselves right from the offset to do the team’s lack of depth at the position whilst the likes of Michael Jenkins, Lavelle Hawkins and Donald Jones are hardly household names but will hope to earn a spot on the team’s roster ahead of the 2013 season.
The Patriots know how to overcome adversity and win as it in the franchises DNA so in 2013 do not be surprised if New England defies its doubters and comes out of this season on top. The team has done it before from topping the Giants in the teams debut at Schaefer Stadium 20-14 in August 1971 to defeating New Orleans 27-6 at Foxboro in 1976 to clinch their first playoff appearance since the 1963 AFL Championship game. In December 1978 the Patriots clinched their first outright divisional championship in the club’s history with a last minute 26-24 victory over Buffalo at home and in the 1985 season the team defied the odds to reach Super Bowl XX where they eventually lost to the 15-1 Chicago Bears. Those 1985 Patriots were the first team in NFL history ever to advance to the Super Bowl by winning 3 playoff games on the road as they defeated the Jets 26-14, the Los Angeles Raiders, 27-20, and the Miami Dolphins 31-14, in the AFC Championship game which gave New England their first AFC Championship win in team history and in doing so ended the teams 18 game losing streak at the Orange Bowl also giving them their first win in that stadium since 1969. Following that the team plummeted somewhat with the franchise suffering difficulties until the 90s when Robert Kraft bought the franchise and the team achieved success with division titles in 1996 and 1997 with the pinnacle of that decade being an appearance in Super Bowl XXII where they lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-21.
The Patriots are used to staring adversity in the face with many believing they would fall to the ST. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans but an Adam Vinatieri 48-yard field goal as time expired helped the Patriots claim the first Super Bowl championship of their 42-year history with a 20-17 win. The Lombardi trophy had finally made its way to New England and that postseason saw the Patriots overcome tough games against the Raiders in a snowstorm which ended 16-13 and an AFC Championship win over the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17. We know about the teams most recent successes since its first Super Bowl win and while for now the Patriots appear to be up against it with a big challenge ahead the quest for a 4th championship is still on the cards. While Brady and Belichick are on this team they will always be a contender and in 2013 you can expect them to finish the regular season AFC East champions again. The Jets and Bills are in a transition period and the Dolphins will have to defy history if they are to succeed following a major splash during this year’s free agency. In 2013 you can expect New England to lose a minimum of 5 games meaning that they will still compete with the Broncos and the Texans for a first round bye ahead of the playoffs. The Patriots are facing adversity now more than ever but they are prepared for it after dealing with these types of challenges over the years. Of course having a big task ahead is not ideal but having winners likes Tom Brady and Bill Belichick leading your team ensures you will compete as they will settle for nothing less. What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first steps to something better and that is what New England can take from the losses to the Giants and Ravens.
They have had many wins but they want that fourth championship and what better way to achieve redemption than to win it at MetLife stadium next February at Super Bowl XLVIII to avenge past demons… Considering the winning mentality of this franchise despite the increasing odds people are putting against them who would actually bet against this team because knowing the New England Patriots anything is possible.