Posts Tagged ‘Rodney Harrison’

The changes for the Patriots’ defense have been astounding this off season and pre-season.  Changes needed to be made, the defense was old, slow and not quite ready for a championship run.  But no one could have predicted all that has gone down this so far.

First was the draft day trade of Ellis Hobbs.  Hobbs had a lot of heart, playing hurt much of the time.  No one can question that, but he was the cornerstone of a Patriots’ secondary that gave up too many big passes.

Second was the surprising trade of Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs.  Yeah, his production declined last year but he was one of the leaders in the locker room and the field.  Best friends with Tedy Bruschi, his sense of humor helped many a player through the difficulties of training camp and a long season.

Third was the surprising retirement of Tedy Bruschi.  One has to wonder if the trade of his friend was part of the difficulty for him.  But after Tedy’s stroke we weren’t sure if he’d even play again.  He did, and gave a few more years of memories.

The problem is the 2 most experienced defenders, both linebackers and keys to the Patriots’ defense for years are suddenly gone.  Mayo, coming off an incredible rookie year, is now the defensive leader of a less impressive linebacker corps.

This may explain the shift to the 4-3 rather than the 3-4 defense that has been the staple of the Patriots’ under Coach Belichik.  Perhaps it was this shift in philosophy that led to the next “out of the blue” move- the trade of Richard Seymour to the Raiders.  There were probably other reasons including the knowledge that they probably not be able to re-sign him and needed to build for the future.

But some people have come in.  Tully Banta-Cain returns to put some pressure on the QB, and Burgess came over in a trade from the Raiders to accomplish the same task.  They have some new, experienced CBs, Springs and Bodden, to defend the pass better.  Rookies like Brace, Butler and Chung look to help the defense too.

The Patriots will put lots of points on the board with a deep offense (aside from QB, where if Brady goes down again we are in big trouble).  They have protected themselves should Maroney not pan out by bringing in Freddy Taylor and keeping “The Law Firm”.  They have a great receiving corps, and added some youth to the line to keep Brady on his 2 feet.  The questions is, will they be able to keep points off the board?  Only time will tell if Coach called this one correctly.  For the fans, we’ll miss some of the old familiar faces.  But if the wins keep coming, we’ll move on.  Sentimentality is the death of a sports franchise, just as much as a church.

PS: I forgot the retirement of Rodney Harrison, another emotional leader of the defense.  His intensity, and Bruschi’s, will be greatly missed.  But retirement is unavoidable in any sport.

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First it was Tom Brady.  His knee injury ended his season and their hopes for a return to the Super Bowl.  Prior to Monday’s game it was announced that Laurence Maroney was done for the year with a shoulder injury. His injury is not as crippling to the team since they have plenty of running backs.  If Sammy Morris did a bigger number on his knee than he did on the Bronco’s defense (racking up 138 yards in the FIRST HALF), then New England is in trouble.  But if he bounces back, Jordan comes back, and they don’t have to rely on an undrafted rookie free agent, the Patriots’ running game can still be very productive.  That means that Matt Cassel can be productive despite his superb ability to take a sack instead of dumping the ball off.

During the game Rodney Harrison was carted off the field.  Word today is a torn quadriceps, and he’s done for the season- and perhaps his career.

Football is a brutal sport.  The Patriots are not the only team to suffer so many season-ending injuries.  They can quickly put a cap on championship hopes (unless that player is Jeremy Shockey).  There are no guarantees in life, and especially in sports.  Injuries are part of the game, and affect the outcome of many a game or season.  They humble us, or should.  They display the fleeting nature of life, and the precarious nature of success.  They also provide obstacles that can build character, or reveal weakness of character.  Injuries also allow someone else the opportunity to rise to the occasion (think Tom Brady or Lou Gehrig).  Life is just as unpredictable of those sports we follow.

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