OK Patriot fans, after a few days of reflection, what are you prepared to say? The loudmouth, trash-talking, Brady-hating, Belichick-disrespecting, chest-pumping blow-hards from New Jersey beat the clean-cut, professional, classy, tight-lipped, respectful Patriots. It’s a victory that should change the conversation going forward. But will it?
Are you willing to say that Rex Ryan’s methods can work, or is beating the heavily favored Patriots not enough? Does he have to win a ring first? Are you willing to say you’re pretty impressed that Ryan has been able to go 3-2 against Belichick despite having Mark Sanchez as his quarterback? Or maybe you’re ready to give credit to Sanchez for being a winner and a clutch performer.
Are you willing to acknowledge that trash-talking has no impact on the outcome of a game and does nothing to motivate a team? Or do you think Wes Welker’s personal attack on Ryan rallied the Jets around him and ultimately helped New York win the game?
Do you look at the Randy Moss trade today the same way you looked at it during the regular season? I’m not saying Moss would have made a difference on Sunday, but getting rid of him was supposed to make the Patriots a better playoff team.
What are you saying about Tom Brady’s last three playoff games? While he remains the best quarterback in the league, and perhaps of all time, he’s lost three postseason games in a row — two of them at home. He’s thrown four interceptions in those games while being sacked 13 times. He’s also thrown 11 picks in his last seven playoff games. Are these things you’re willing to discuss and express some level of disappointment about?
Does Brady’s performance get you rethinking your position on Peyton Manning? Perhaps, when Brady’s pressured — when his defense is nothing special and when his teammates make a few mistakes — he ends up looking a lot like Manning and other quarterbacks who end up losing playoff games.
Are you willing to question Belichick’s abilities to out-think and out-prepare any team when he has two weeks to get ready?
Certainly, Belichick and Brady should still have your trust. Together, they make up one of the greatest football tandems in league history. But there was zero doubt in many Patriots’ fans minds prior to that Jets game. Will there be the tiniest bit of doubt the next time the Patriots step on the field?
Or will you write off what you saw on Sunday as an aberration? Will you ignore what you saw and hold steadfastly to old opinions? The only good that can come out of a crushing loss like that is if we all get to look at things with a new perspective and change the tired old conversations.
But will we?
—Bob Halloran is a sports anchor and author. Follow him on Twitter @BobHalloran63.
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