Sunday, May 1, 2011

I just don't get it

It's safe to say Bill Belichick knows more about football that little ol' me. Criticizing his selection of players is akin to me criticizing a neurosurgeon during an operation.

Still, I just don't get this draft.

They had a need on the offensive line, which has been dominated in the team's last three playoff losses. Nate Solder could address that. But defensive line/linebacker? They didn't try.

Many love to screech about the unwashed masses who yearn for a pass rusher like we're baseball fans who hate OBP and BABIP, like we're the same WEEI banshees who would call for cutting Carl Crawford.

Yes, it may be a cliche at this point. But we watch the games, and it's a clear as it can possibly be. Opposing quarterbacks have dissected this defense with ease for years. Matt Flynn did it. Seneca Wallace did it. Mark Sanchez's jersey is always a pristine white after any Patriots game, if he sucks or not. Why not? When Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich are your pass-rushers ...

I can't go on. The fact that these two are the main pass-rushers makes me ill. I don't want to vomit on my keyboard. I liked TBC as a guy they brought in on third downs occasionally. I never, ever wanted him to start, to be the main guy.

For many years, we Pats fans have been waiting for the next Mike Vrabel/Willie McGinest. Shawn Crable never panned out. Adalius Thomas was a bust. And in the draft, the Pats aren't even trying. I always hear "so-and-so doesn't fit the scheme." So, for three years not one pass-rushing outside linebacker or defensive end fits the scheme? Clay Matthews seems to fit Green Bay's scheme. If 1980s Lawrence Taylor was available, would New England trade out of his spot to stockpile 14 second-round picks in 2013 because "he doesn't fit the scheme?"

Draft all the corners you want, a secondary of four Deion Sanders clones could not cover receivers if the QB has five minutes to throw. This is what Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi were able to provide. Jerod Mayo is good, but he's not a force in the backfield. Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork are supposed to occupy O-lineman in the 3-4, creating space for the LBs to attack the passer.

Who's going to do that next season? Jermaine Cunningham? Dane Fletcher? Lt. Weinberg? I don't know. But the fact that the Pats aren't even trying to fill this hole frustrates me to no end, as a fan. Going 14-2 or 12-4 is fine. But I don't want my team to become the Colts, completely incapable of making the big play on defense when it counts.

If a sports genie told me, "I grant one of your teams a championship. Pick which one, but only one," I would pick the Pats. The Bruins would be tempting, to finish out the four major sports, but I DESPERATELY want one more title for Tom Brady and the Pats. The last Super Bowl which I am refusing to name still stings. Balancing the scales from that epic, gut-wrenching, haunting disaster of a game is the one thing in sports I want more than anything else.

And Brady is in his 30s now. The end of his career is no longer a decade away. (As for Ryan Mallett, I watched him plenty and he gets the Drew Bledsoe yips when things start to go wrong.) So instead of making sure we have 13 draft choices every season, the Pats should be focused on the now. Go for the Lombardi Trophy while Brady still wears a Flying Elvis. Sell your soul if you have to. Having five or six picks won't doom the team to 3-13.

And getting NFL-capable outside rushers is important. The Ravens have Suggs. The Steelers have Harrison. The Packers have Matthews. The Colts have Freeney. The Pats have Banta-Cain and Ninkovich.

I don't get it.

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