Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Happy New Year, Patriots Fans!

For all intents and purposes, this is New Year's Day in the NFL. Actually, it's New Year's Eve until 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. And much like the real New Year's, people are full of high expectations and hope. This is especially true of New England Patriots fans. There are rumors that Darrelle Revis will be cut by Tampa Bay, making him a free agent. There's speculation about freeing up cap space by cutting Danny Amendola and/or Vince Wilfork. Steve Smith is being mentioned in trade rumors. There are a number of wide receivers who will soon be free agents. So many happy possibilities! We can forget about 2013 and move on to next year. Fresh starts! New beginnings! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind...

However, just like the real New Year, people enter with ludicrously high hopes, then are often disappointed by harsh reality. This is also how Patriots fans enter into each and every off-season. They fantasize about Larry Fitzgerald, and having both Aqib Talib and Darrelle Revis on the field at the same time. They imagine trading for Steve Smith and moving up in the draft to select Sammy Watkins. Why not even add Jimmy Graham too?

You would think after years of following the Patriots, fans would learn to limit expectations and try to be as grounded as possible. Instead, with each passing off-season of disappointment their dreams seem to only increase in grandeur and decrease in plausibility.

Darrelle Revis is the latest object of Pats fans' fantasies. When word got out that the Buccaneers were shopping him, Pats fans immediately wanted to trade for him. Now that it seems like Tampa Bay might let him go, and Pats fans immediately want to sign him.

And so do I. He's a great player. If cap space weren't a consideration and the Patriots didn't need help elsewhere, it would be a no-brainer.

It's funny how the people who demanded Aqib Talib be re-signed are the same people now demanding that Revis be acquired.

It's also funny that the most passionate pleas for signing Revis are coming from the same people who were screaming the loudest about the Patriots needs at wide receiver.

I'm sure these sudden, dramatic, and sometimes conflicting shifts in demands are because these people are thinking rationally and not because they're reacting emotionally.

Unlike these people, who seem to know what to do, I don't think I could figure out a 53-man roster, along with all the salary cap numbers, and all the bonuses, and the guaranteed money, and the roster bonuses, and the workout bonuses, and juggle the cap in 2014 while thinking about the cap in 2015, and keep some money for draft day selections I haven't even picked yet. But these people who a few months ago demanded Aqib Talib be re-signed, then demanded a big tall wide receiver, and are now demanding Darrelle Revis, these people seem to know how to juggle all those variables. I'm impressed.

The complexities of an NFL roster are too much for a person like me to figure out. Especially since I only just watch football. The people demanding Revis, I'll just take their word for it. They've got it figured out. After all, they make it seem so simple. And they reach their conclusions so quickly. That's evidence of their clear and concise thought.

End sarcasm.

I'm not arguing against signing Darrelle Revis. He's a great player and he would help this team tremendously. I am arguing against overly simplistic and emotionally based arguments. I'm arguing against Patriots fans who should know better than to hope for a Daniel Snyder style off-season of buying names.

As I'm writing this, there are stories that the Patriots are close to re-signing Aqib Talib. I'm fine with that. I also think the Patriots need to add a #2 cornerback with experience, so when/if the #1 guy (whether it's Talib or someone else) gets hurt, or they face a team with multiple weapons at receiver, the Pats don't get burned.

There's an argument out there that Talib is injury prone, so he shouldn't be re-signed, therefore Revis should be acquired. That's valid. It makes sense. At the same time, such vulnerability suggests another argument: don't put your eggs in one basket. Don't over-invest in one player. When you invest too much in one player or at one position, at the expense of depth and at the expense of strength at other positions, you create an over-reliance on one player, and weaknesses at other positions. And if your one keystone player goes down, then you're weak EVERYWHERE.

The Patriots, when they've depended on one lone cornerback as the key to their defense, have been exposed when that single player gets taken out of the game or doesn't play well.

I'll take Talib plus a solid #2 CB and/or a better pass rush over Darrell Revis. That might not be what the Patriots do, it might not be the right thing to do, but at least my arguments are based on rationality and reason, not just emotion and over-simplification.

When you base too much on emotion, and ignore logic, even when you're right it's by accident.

Happy New Year, Patriots fans. I hope the Pats have a productive off-season and address more than just one of their needs. I also hope fans don't get too pie-in-the-sky hopeful about all the big names out there. Teams win Super Bowls, not names.

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