Patriots Pulse: 3-0 An Omen Or Just A Coincidence?
On the last two occasions that the New England Patriots have started a season 3-0 they have gone on to reach the Super Bowl. The 2004 season saw the team defend their Super Bowl crown from 2003 as the team went on to repeat their success from the year before and become back to back champions. In 2007 it appeared they would achieve something greater than that period of dominance as the team dominated the league entirely by finishing the 2007 regular season undefeated 16-0 and advancing to the Super Bowl with an 18-0 record before unfortunately falling at the final hurdle.
2004’s team was built around one of the best defenses in the league and on offense Tom Brady was efficient despite not having any real standout receiving options but it was the collective efforts from the likes of Troy Brown, David Givens, Deion Branch and David Patten which helped the team succeed. Brady in 2004 threw 28 touchdowns to 14 interceptions and 5 touchdowns to 0 interceptions in that post-season; It wasn’t until the 2007 season when we saw Brady throw over 30 touchdowns for the first time in his career as he went on to break the regular season record for passing touchdowns with 50.
Despite the 2007 team being a more complete team than any of the Patriots’ three Super Bowl winning teams they lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII as they missed out on being undefeated for the whole year. They are still arguably one of the greatest sporting rosters of all-time let alone in the NFL but the Lombardi trophy eluded them on that particular occasion. Here we are six seasons later and there have been many changes in New England especially ahead of the current 2013 season as the team entered a period of transition with many of Tom Brady’s receiving options being rookies as opposed to an explosive receiving core from 2012 which featured the likes of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez.
Despite some doubt surrounding the Patriots going in to the start of the year the team managed to grind out two early season victories over the Bills and the Jets before a solid win over Tampa Bay last week 23-3. At 3-0 is it possible to assume the Patriots could make it to MetLife stadium in February 2014 for an eighth Super Bowl appearance? Well it is impossible to ever rule the Patriots out as they will always contend with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady but it is too early in the season to make Super Bowl predictions for any team in the league as there is still a long way to go.
In spite of that this Patriots team is improving week by week with Bill Belichick’s defense on fire so far as they are second in points allowed, 11.3 per game, along with being tied for eight in total defense, 309 yards per game. The Patriots D has had many standout performers this year from the likes of the young Chandler Jones to unsung heroes such as Rob Ninkovich and Kyle Arrington. Aqib Talib and Jerod Mayo have also been impressive for New England and Vince Wilfork is as consistent on defense for this team as Tom Brady is on offense.
New England’s defense is tied for eighth on third-down conversions allowed and they are the only team in the league to have allowed zero points in the fourth quarter which is incredible considering that run stretches over three games. With a big game against Atlanta coming up tomorrow night the form of the Patriots defense will stand them in good stead and considering they are doing well in turnovers and in the red zone, two things Belichick’ defenses have always relied on, it is clear to see this group have lots of potential. The defense has created seven turnovers in three games leaving them tied for fifth in the league and is tied for having the 12th best red zone defense.
Since the 2009 season Tom Brady has needed a defense to help out the Patriots as in recent years the offense has carried the team at times but now it appears the offense is playing catch up to the defense when you look at the start of this 2013 season. The good news for all those involved with the Patriots is that with Tom Brady you have a future hall of fame quarterback leading the offense and a man who is hungry for his 4th Super Bowl ring so if anyone can make a set of rookie wideouts in to productive NFL receivers early on in their careers it is him.
Last week we saw Brady and Kenbrell Thompkins combine for two scores as the rookie showed off the type of display we saw from him during preseason. Aaron Dobson has showed he has lots of potential and racked up the most receiving yards out of the receivers last week. There will be lots of pressure of those two and Julian Edelman who Brady has relied on even more in recent weeks after Danny Amendola joined Rob Gronkowski on the sideline but the Patriots will walk in to the Georgia Dome in high spirits and confident of walking out 4-0.
On the past two occasions the teams have made the Super Bowl when starting 3-0 they have won their fourth game but regardless on tomorrow night’s result it is clear to see this Patriots team will grow week by week. The more game time these rookie receivers get the more they will improve as a unit and tomorrow night will be a valuable experience. The Patriots will have to deal without Gronkowski and Amendola tomorrow night; With the Falcons at 1-2 it is a tough game to call which could go either way whilst having the potential to be a thriller but to win tomorrow night the Patriots needs to improve on its red zone woes as the Falcons pose a stronger threat than any other team they faced so far.
Looking ahead at the rest of the 2013 season if the Patriots roster is healthy come the start of the playoffs they have to be considered a contender represent the AFC at Super Bowl XLVIII. Rob Gronkowski will open up the field for the other offensive weapons which will be beneficial for the rookies plus it will give the likes of Edelman and Amendola the ability to have a bigger impact on the field. From an offensive point of view the running game will also be critical to the team’s success as they look to get something going from there various options with Shane Vereen, Legarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, and Stevan Ridley all on the roster.
There is no coincidence in the Patriots’ success as the franchise has been strong for over the last decade and although the Super Bowl is a long way away with the potential on both sides of the ball New England has a lot to be excited about for the future so if things go to plan 2013 could potentially finish with a fairytale ending for all those involved with the franchise.