Bill Belichick has made it clear throughout the years he's not one to fall back on nostalgia, nor is he afraid to make earth-shattering roster moves for the good of the team.
The recent trade of Richard Seymour serves as a friendly reminder, just in case anyone forgot who's calling the shots in Foxboro. Seymour joins Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison as recent departures from New England's championship defense. The loss of Bruschi and Seymour sting the most because they were tremendously popular within the community and effective on the field as well.
Clearly, this is a defense in transition. Not only are the stalwarts from the Super Bowl teams gone, the Patriots also need to replace Ellis Hobbs, who they traded away, and find a suitable replacement for Asante Samuel, who played opposite of Hobbs at cornerback.
|Seymour leaves New England after 8 seasons, with 3 Super Bowl Rings and 5 Pro Bowls. |
While all this is going on, the pressure to carry the load in 2009 will fall squarely on the shoulders -- and, in some cases, the left knee -- of quarterback Tom Brady. With the two-time Super Bowl MVP back in the fold after injuring his knee last season, the Patriots are once again loaded offensively. The last time this group played together for a full season (2007) they rewrote the record books.
A similar effort may be necessary to keep this team in playoff contention if the defense cannot survive the loss of some key players. Brady understands what's on his plate and understands what needs to be on the defensive side of the ball, too.
"They're going to create their own style," Brady said. "You're not going to have the loudmouths like Vrabel -- well, you still have Adalius (Thomas) -- but Rodney (Harrison) was the guy who I loved to compete against out there at practice.
"There are other guys who have stepped into those roles. James (Sanders), I remember when he was learning from Rodney and now he's the guy that Patrick Chung will be learning from him. There's definitely some new faces over there and some new looks, and I think they're very skilled. They're going to have their hands full this week with a great team and a great offense in Buffalo that presents some different threats, but they're going to have their own identity."
From a mental standpoint, the entire team must shake off any feeling of doubt or sadness following the trade of Seymour to Oakland. Brady knows what that's like, too. After all, he grew up a 49ers fan and remembers the fallout from the Joe Montana trade.
"My mom loved Joe Montana. That was hard in our own house," Brady said. "And I remember when he went to the Chiefs, they played a Monday night game against Denver. I was at this gym I used to work out at and they had this little TV in the locker room. They had a pretty good QB back there in San Francisco (Steve Young), they did when they got rid of (Montana), but those great players they do move on and they carry with them a lot of great memories."
The same applies to Seymour, though it's obvious both the offense and defense must move on in the aftermath of this shocking deal. Likewise, the offense might just have to carry the load while the defense adjusts on the field. They've done it before. Now we'll see if history can repeat itself.
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