Saturday, February 16, 2008

Patriots' detractors: Sour Grapes.

The Super Bowl champion New York Giants went 10-6 in the 2007 regular season. In the postseason, they defeated three of the teams (Dallas, Green Bay and New England) which dealt them four of their six regular season losses.

-After losing to Dallas twice (by 10 points and 11 points) they went into Texas Stadium in the NFC Divisional playoffs and beat the Cowboys 21-17.

-The Giants then went into frozen Lambeau Field in Green Bay and stunned the Packers 23-20 in overtime, winning the NFC title. What was even more surprising is that Green Bay had routed the Giants by 22 points in Week 2 of the regular season.

-And who could forget the Super Bowl earlier this month? After having their defense shredded for 38 points and 390 total yards by the New England Patriots in the regular season finale, the Giants shocked the world in the rematch by downing the Pats 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII. New York pulled off the big upset despite being 12-point underdogs.

In summary, the Giants completely turned the tables on three of their postseason opponents after having been dominated by them in the regular season.

Huh. How in the world did they do that?

One can only conclude that the New York Giants achieved such incredible turnarounds by stealing opponents’ signals or, worse yet, illegally videotaping the opposition.

But somehow much of the credit has gone to Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his incredible game plans he put together to combat three off the NFL’s most high-powered offenses.

Wait a minute!!!! A coaching staff making adjustments based on what failed in a previous game against the same opponent? Why, how is such a thing possible?

Apparently when it pertains to the New England Patriots, such adjustments can only be made through the aforementioned illegal videotaping of opponents’ signals.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell revealed to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) that Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been illegally videotaping opponents’ defensive signals since he took over the team in 2000. Goodell said Belichick told him he believed the taping was legal. Based on that, either Belichick is supremely arrogant or he genuinely did not know what he was doing was illegal.

Think about it. If Belichick believed that the videotaping of defensive hand signals was illegal, why would he employ such a tactic with his former defensive coordinator coaching the opponent? Former Pats assistant Eric Mangini blew the whistle on Belichick after his New York Jets were drubbed 38-14 in Week 1 of the ’07 season. Certainly Mangini must have known of Belichick’s techniques while working for the Patriots. It makes absolutely no sense to me that Belichick would take such an enormous risk of getting caught if he knew videotaping such signals was against NFL rules.

Most recently, there was an allegation that former Patriots employee Matt Walsh videotaped the St Louis Rams’ walkthrough the day before Super Bowl XXXVI in January 2002. New England defeated the Rams 20-17, despite being a two-touchdown underdog.

Personally, I believe this whole controversy has been wayyyy overblown. Certainly the Patriots would appear to have had a slight competitive advantage based on the findings of Commissioner Goodell. But I have to chuckle at the asinine logic that Rams, Steelers and Eagles coaches/players/fans (as well as all Patriots haters) have been perpetuating since these videotaping accusations have come to light.

To wit:

Belichick has very high winning percentage against an opposing QB the Patriots play a second time in a season.

Ummmm….so what!! Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was 3-0 in a similar situation in the 2007 postseason alone. But all I’ve ever heard was what a superlative game plan Spagnuolo put together in each of their playoff wins, especially the Super Bowl.

The Patriots taped the Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. The walkthrough consisted of the Rams’ red zone plays.

Irrelevant. The Rams never even reached the “red zone” (inside the opponents’ 20-yard line) until the 4th quarter. The Rams scored a touchdown the one time they reached that area. So much for the Pats benefiting from that alleged video taping.

In the 2004 AFC Championship game, Pats linebacker Teddy Bruschi was called to the sideline on a critical 4th and 1 play. He was told by coach Belichick what play the Steelers were about to run. Bruschi then stuffed Steelers running back Jerome Bettis on the ensuing play.

It takes intimate knowledge of another team to know that they’ll call a running play using a 260-pound fullback on 4th & 1? Stevie friggin’ Wonder could have predicted that play was coming. Besides, the Steelers were the most overrated 15-1 team in NFL history. They barely escaped losing the divisional playoff game at home the week before against the New York Jets. Were it not for two missed field goal attempts by Jets kicker Doug Brien in the last two minutes of regulation, the Steelers would have had the distinction as some of the biggest chokers of all time.

Eagles defensive players complained after Super Bowl XXXIX that the Patriots offense called a screen pass every single time a blitz was called by the Eagles defense.

One of the more absurd complaints I’ve heard yet. Ray friggin’ Charles could have told you that the Eagles would blitz on the next play (and he had been dead for eight months at the time) BECAUSE THAT’S THEIR SPECIALTY!!!!! Jim Johnson, the Eagles defensive coordinator since 1999, liked to blitz approximately 80-85% of the time. Again, that takes some real insight and knowledge to accurately predict something that takes place 80% of the time.

If indeed there’s more to the story of the Patriots’ videotaping escapades, I believe further punishment of Belichick (and Belichick only) should be meted out accordingly.

Until then, we who appreciate the Pats’ success have to endure continued delusional ramblings from their detractors.


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