Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005 at 8:34 AM

The New England Patriots.

This is the first part of my look at the two teams in the Super Bowl. Today we will look at the defending champs, the New England Patriots. Wednesday we will take a peak at the Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday will be my overview of the game and keys to each team winning. Friday, as always, the Sports Dude will make his pick.

The Patriots have won two of the last three Super Bowls and look to do something once thought unattainable - a dynasty in the age of free agency. The one they missed, in 2003, went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Oakland Raiders. That year, in fact, the Pat's didn't even make the playoffs. So, for the record, that is why the word "dynasty" is thrown around, but with an asterisk. A true dynasty, they say, would have at least made the playoffs. Well, for the record, they still went 9-7 that year and just missed a wild card spot. Before that season began they waived one of their veteran leaders, Lawyer Milloy and traded long time QB Drew Bledsoe. There were problems in the locker room because of it as well as an injury riddled season. Even though I agree that maybe some of the dynasty talk is premature at least look at the bigger picture before slapping the old asterisk on it. Most teams probably would have been worse than that 9-7 record, so do not tarnish the amazing feats this team has accomplished over the last four years. What Belichick, his staff and his players have done is remarkable and regardless if they win the Super Bowl or not should be talked about as one of the all time greats. Dynasty? Well, maybe if they win it! But the team takes on the manner of their head coach, Bill Belichick, and remind me of business men the way they approach the game week in and week out.

THE OFFENSE:
The field general, Tom Brady, two-time Super Bowl MVP and Mr. 8-0 in the playoffs leads the way. No flash, just poise. No 100 yard rushing games from him, just a pure pocket passer in every sense of the word. He is as cool, calm and humble as they come. He finally got a running back behind him this season, one Corey Dillon, whose power running style helped balance this offense. They finished their first regular season together at 14-2, earning a first round bye in the playoffs and have now earned the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Brady doesn't put up "gawky" fantasy league type numbers, but the dude is smart, efficient and - most importantly - he wins. He has a nice compliment of receivers, but that is what they are - a compliment. No T.O., no Moss, no Rice - just a bunch of guys who go out there and get the job done. The balance is there between the run and the pass, the poise, the leadership and the business like attitude.

THE DEFENSE:
Scrappy - that, to me, is the word that comes to mind. The secondary is beat up you say? HAH!!!! We hold Indy to three points - take that bitch! Can't beat Pittsburgh? HAH!!!! Roethlesberger who? They cover the field extremely well, they love to hit you and make you remember it, they make the big play when it needs to be made and they compete. Oh, and did I mention they scheme better than most and get the most out of the talent they have? Again, no flash, no big names, just guys who get it done. Vrabel, Brueschi, Harrison, McGinest - not quite house hold names like Ray Lewis, but they get down and dirty and take care of business. Oh yeah, and their nickel back - Troy Brown - happens to also be one of their best wide receivers. Yeah, the dude goes both ways - and I mean that as a compliment! Point is, you may not see them on the cover of any video games anytime soon, but they play "D" as a team and get it done. Did I mention they held Indy to three points yet!?!?

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Adam Vinetari. Look, in New England's two Super Bowl wins, he kicked the winning field goal each time. Do you think this guy gets nervous under pressure? He may not have a huge leg but he most definitely doesn't get rattled. Hey that is huge come playoff time - just ask the Chargers and Jets about choking kickers in the playoffs!

COACHING:
Charlie Weis ( offensive coordinator and future Notre Dame Head Coach ); Romeo Crennel ( defensive coordinator and all but future Cleveland Browns Head Coach ) and the head coach Bill Belichick. Maybe the league has figured out a way to stop this guy - start stealing his assistants away! As far as Belichick is concerned, is he the greatest of all time? I don't know, that may be too hard to tell right now. Is he the greatest in the game today? HELL YES - hands down! The fact that he has two weeks to break down the Eagles, scheme his way up and down their play book and come up with a game plan for the Pats should put the fear of god into everyone in Philly. In fact, it should be illegal. The Eagles should have requested that Belichick be put in a isolation booth for the first week to at least make it somewhat fair. Crap, give this guy a week and look at what he does ( please see Indy 20-3 and Pittsburgh 41-27 for reference ), can you imagine his game plan after two weeks? They really should have had him on lock down for at least a week to give his counter part, Andy Reid, at least some chance in hell. Belichick and his staff are the best at what they do - game planning.

OVERVIEW:
In closing, looking at the last two games and what they did, all you can say is "WOW!". Forget dynasty talk, forget Belichick, forget Mr. 8-0 Brady, forget it all! All things point to New England and that makes me nervous. Not going to make my pick just yet, but all things point to New England and them being better than the Eagles, whom we will discuss tomorrow. But the champion is crowned on the field, not on paper, so we will have to wait and see on Super Bowl Sunday.

Later - the sports dude.

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