By Joe Brod
So the New England Patriots won the division and the New York Jets were a Wildcard team. The two split their games head-to-head with both winning in their home stadium. The Pats won 10 games in the regular season and got rudely bounced from the playoffs in the Wildcard Game by the Baltimore Ravens while the Jets won 9 games in the regular season and then won two road games in the playoffs before losing the AFC Championship Game to the Indianapolis Colts.
So why are the Pats still so scary to some people? Is it the lingering memory of their perfect regular season of 2007? Is it the specter of the “Tuck Rule” game? Is it a hangover from their three ill-gotten championships, the most recent of which was six years ago?
Take a good, long look at the Pats roster. It ain’t all that impressive and it may be worse next year.
Now, I know Pats fans and so-called “experts” will shout from the rooftops about the Pats having eleventy-seven draft picks in April’s draft but take a hard look at their last four drafts. The Pats had 38 picks and got 4 decent starters out of it, and not a single Pro-Bowler. That’s hardly impressive. Conversely, in the same stretch with only 23 picks the Jets drafted nine starters , four of which have already been to Pro Bowls, three of whom have been named All-Pro. So despite having 15 fewer picks, the Jets got significantly more value out of the last four drafts. Who is doing the Pats scouting? I know Terry Bradway and Joey Clinkscales are doing one hell of a job!
Would you really be all that excited about the Pats upcoming draft based on their recent draft history if you were a Pats fan? Unless you were a blind homer you’d be wondering how they are going to screw this one up.
The next comment is usually about the “uncapped” year and the Pats being able to spend whatever they want in free agency. Well that completely ignores rules put in to prevent teams from buying a championship in an uncapped year which will significantly restrict player movement this offseason. Because of the uncapped year, most of the best potential unrestricted free agents will be restricted free agents and most of the guys who will be unrestricted free agents will be old.
So that means the Pats are free to sign more old players like Shawn Springs and Junior Seau which is a strategy that has yielded zero championships so far. If it wasn’t for the Leigh Bodden signing last year, the Pats would look completely inept in the free agent market.
The one big name they can potentially sign, provided the Panthers don’t franchise tag him is Julius Peppers, which would give them another guy with a questionable work ethic who is on the wrong side of 30. Not really all that awe-inspiring.
That leaves trades, which is the one area the Pats have been successful when it comes to team building the last several years. But at this point, who is really going to be dumb enough to give them a future Hall of Famer for a fourth rounder like the Raiders did?
It’s time for the Pats fans to face facts. That team is heading in the wrong direction and has a ton of holes to fill, way more than can be addressed in one offseason.
It’s also time for Jets fans to face facts. The Jets are only a couple of players and the continued improvement of Mark Sanchez away from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
We shouldn’t fear the Pats anymore. They need to start fearing us.
You can discuss this in our New York Jets message board.