By Paul M. Banks
When death occurs this suddenly, sometimes we rationalize it by thinking, â€œmaybe I should have anticipated this crisis.â€
New England Patriots All-Universe Quarterback Tom Brady left the season opener today with a season-ending knee injury; possibly a torn ACL and MCL. Yikes! We all know that Brady was possibly in doubt about playing this week, right? Coupled with his absence for the entire preseason, we should have known something was up maybe? And remember the last time we saw him play in Super Bowl XLII; he was NOT himself. They said that whole walking-boot-during-the-February- bye-weeks thing was just precautionary, but it was remarkably clear to anyone who watched all 19 games of the Patriots 2007 season that he was not 100%. And perhaps the karma police were still looking to make a bust because of Spygate. So maybe I should have anticipated something like thisâ€¦.or maybe not!
Brady is 101-27 in the 128 consecutive games that he has started. I was worried about a heavy rain (minor ankle injury) not the Category 5 Hurricane (season-ending knee injury) now headed to New England. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m sick to my stomach tonight. It is a psychosomatic ailment: knowing what already happened to the Pats season after just the 15th play of the season.
Thereâ€™s only one man I can really talk to about this: BradyFan83. I know he was watching the game in his parentsâ€™ basement with some Dr. Pepper and his Tom Brady Fathead on the wall. He feels the pain Iâ€™m in. There is a form of artistic expression that I believe captures the emotion of this dark day in Patriot history.
It reminds me of a ritual that takes place in New Orleans, the city where the Pats won their first Super Bowl. A New Orleans Jazz Funeral begins with a bunchÂ Â of slow dirges and somber notes representing death and sorrow for the person who has passed on. This part obviously relates to Tom Bradyâ€™s season ending injury. The second portion of a Jazz Funeral has an upbeat tempo with faster, livelier rhythm thatâ€™s says, â€œhey I miss you, but it was great to know you while you were here, and youâ€™ve moved on to a better place than this life and that makes us feel happy.â€ I truly believe that there will be a happy portion to this Patriots season following the somber mood of death felt in Pats Nation today. Was Matt Cassel a â€œsystem QBâ€ in college at USC? Probably, so he can also be a system QB here. He certainly has had plenty of time to learn the system and he has a plethora of weapons around him at the wide receiver and running back positions. He has the same line blocking for him that Brady did; and the genius Bill Belichick and Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels â€“who was a very hot head coaching prospect this off season- guiding him.
For the first few weeks, I would expect a scaled down offense with more of a â€œgame managementâ€ philosophy, but an AFC East division title is still very much a possibility. Forget 13-3 or 12-4, but 10-6 is still very doable with this amount of talent. Buffalo is very improved, as their big week one victory over a good Seattle team proves. So they will be the biggest obstacle to winning the division. Favre has improved the Jets, but they are not a serious threat. Neither is Miami. And once you get in the postseason, anything is possible and upsets happen. So all is not lost. â€œAshes to ashes. Dust to dust.â€
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