I've been following football and the New England Patriots for over thirty years. I saw a LOT of bad football in the 1980s and 1990s, I remember when the team came *this close* to moving to St. Louis (thank you for saving us, Bob Kraft), and I remember the hope we all had as fans when Bill Parcells was hired and when Drew Bledsoe was drafted. When Drew got injured in 2001 and some no-name backup called Tom Brady stepped in, I had no idea what to expect but kept watching anyway. Seventeen years and five championships later, here we are near the end of this still active dynasty. The three constants have been Kraft, Brady, and Bill Belichick and to say we've been blessed as football fans in New England goes without saying. We've seen so much winning that sometimes it's difficult to step back and get perspective on the team. This year's team is currently 9-4 and the bizarre debacle in Miami not withstanding, they're still in good shape for a first round bye if they can take care of business these last three games. Most fans of other teams would kill for their team to be 9-4, so why does it seem like something is off with these Patriots?
So what's up and what's down in the world of Boston sports as of December 10, 2018?
The New England Patriots bi-polar season continued on Sunday as they were embarrassed in Miami giving up the longest play with no seconds on the clock since 1970, falling to the Miami Dolphins 34-33. New England played EXTREMELY un-Patriot-like football in all 3 phases of the game and fans are left picking up the pieces of their smashed remotes while questioning a final play that has most of us questioning Bill Belichick's genius.
Last Sunday against the Vikings, Patriots fullback James Develin was in the spotlight. The Patriots were once again at the goalline and struggling to punch it in for the touchdown throughout the game, but not when they handed it to James Develin.
The Patriots' defense held the Minnesota Vikings to 296 yards of total offense as New England continued their tradition of December dominance with a 24 - 10 victory. The Patriots now boast an incredible 64 - 13 record in the month of December during the Brady / Belichick era. Along the way, Tom Brady reached a number of new milestones and Bill Belichick won his 250th game as the head coach of the New England Patriots.
James White is having the best season of his career and it’s only right that he get properly rewarded.
The Patriots cornerback play has been nothing short of spectacular this season. While the Patriots safeties have lagged behind in performance, Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty have stolen the spotlight and emerged as the Patriots most effective defensive unit.
Sony Michel led the Patriots' ground attack on Sunday, busting out for 133 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, for an outstanding 6.3 yards per carry average. The Patriots, as a team, ran the ball 36 times for 215 yards. Impressive. How impressive? The last time the New England Patriots rushed for over 200 yards was when "Flash In The Pan" JONAS GRAY exploded for 201 rushing yards against the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. With Bill Belichick's "challenge" to establish the run game coming out of the bye week, I'm left wondering if he realizes that the only way this team can survive in the post-season is to rely on the ONE thing that has been consistent: The run game with a healthy Sony Michel.
The Patriots have finally gotten fully healthy coming out off of their bye week.
When the Patriots drafted Sony Michel with the 31st pick in last year's NFL Draft, there was a fair amount of shock around New England. The Patriots already had 4 quality running backs on their roster at the time in James White, Rex Burkhead, Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee. As it's turned out, the Patriots have needed that extra running back depth this season more than it seemed they would when the pick was made. Both Burkhead and Hill were placed on injured reserve before the Patriots could even get out of September and Mike Gillislee was cut before the season was even started.