On Pro Football
---- — Bill Belichick has delivered his weekend surprises, and your New England Patriots roster is set for Week 1, this Sunday in Tennessee.
Three huge stunners from the weekend cuts.
First, the wide receiver got blown wide open with the cut of Deion Branch. The veteran of 11 years has slowed, for sure.
When the alternative is a Julian Edelman or even newcomer Mark Salas, who the club picked up in a minor deal from St. Louis, you have to wonder why Branch isn’t still here or hasn’t been called back.
“It’s the hardest part of the job to take players that have played for you, won for you and players that have been with us since the spring, the whole offseason, done everything we asked them to do, worked hard, sweated, been banged up, kept going out there, kept playing, kept trying to do everything they could to make the team, to do what we asked them to do, to do it in a team-first attitude and fashion and to tell those players that they can’t be a part of the team is very difficult,” admitted the coach yesterday, when asked about the release of vets like Branch.
The second surprise of the weekend has been the silence from the Brian Waters camp. We definitely should have heard something by now.
No Waters is a bad thing for an offensive line that was at best embattled and at worst overwhelmed during the preseason.
Every minute he remains away from the team costs the Patriots.
Finally, the last shocker was the move of Jeff Demps to injured reserve. The coach confirmed yesterday that the speedster was done for the year.
While he was tiny and needs the year to learn the system and get back into football, as opposed to track and field, shape, Demps had/has a game-breaker’s look.
NOW ON TO MY SEASON THOUGHTS
All eyes – coaches, players, fans – will be focused on the
officials, their lockout and the impending replacements.
How the players have not stepped up to end this travesty, concerning what amounts to pennies for NFL owners has me totally flummoxed. …
At some point, will the decrepit state of the AFC East, where Buffalo remains a non-entity thanks to Chan Gailey running the show, Miami has put its hopes into a rookie QB in Ryan Tannehill, and the Jets continue to bump into each other like bumbling fools, actually hurt the Patriots.
After rolling through the AFC East, gaining a bye and pummeling an overmatched Denver team, the Pats were hardly fine-tuned to compete against Baltimore or the Giants.
Seriously, the lack of real competition has killed this team recently.
New England closed out the season, facing Mark Sanchez, Tyler Palko, Vince Young, Dan Orlovsky, Rex Grossman, Tim Tebow, Matt Moore, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tebow, before a couple decent tests with Joe Flacco and Eli Manning.
Were the Pats really playoff ready? …
Finally, I look at the New York Jets, who remain light years behind the Pats in the quest to be the best in the East.
Despite the rumblings of so many, Rex Ryan brought in Tim Tebow to the fold.
Tebow, once the cheap façade of a QB that is Mark Sanchez is unmasked, will again be the man to take over and try to make something out of nothing, just as he did in Denver a year ago.
I firmly do believe that Tebow will make a Wild Card contender out of the Jets. That does not mean they will pose any serious challenge to the Patriots.
Can’t wait till the Wednesday night opener, despite all the bad Super Bowl memories it will conjure when the champ Giants host Dallas.