Is it really any wonder we came up short last Sunday? The game was a reality check. Fisher and crew obviously have their work cut out for them as Jeff knew he would when he accepted the HC position. We fans got a solid taste of it at Wembley. That said, I believe strongly that we are going in the right direction, and our day is coming. Perhaps not with the alacrity we as fans desire, but “our day” IS coming.
Life as a Ram fan under Georgia’s tenure was far from wonderful, and though we caught lightning in a bottle in 1999, the organization afterall, was built on sand. The “Greatest Show on Turf” spoiled us, perhaps fooled us into believing we could have a dynasty. Guess what? Reality prevailed. We still had an owner who left all the decisions an investment analyst (J.Z.) and John Shaw (not sure what his qualifications were?). Finally that era concluded!
Excerpts below from an from article on *Billy Bellyache highlight some of the ingredients in the recipe for the success the Pats have enjoyed in recent years. Already one can see similar moves and non-moves by Stan, Fisher, Snead, & Demoff. We possibly will get our clock cleaned again in SF, but as Rambos stated in a recent post, there are reasons for hope. A bye week to game plan, injured players returning, an honest to God real football head coach and staff etc.
The Patriots have had the same coach and GM going on for 13 years, add to that a savvy owner with deep pockets, and you have a formula for success. Love him or hate him, Billy Bellyache has over his long tenure, quietly and expertly assembled a group of very talented players. The roster depth is solid, and the team has run variations of the same systems for years. Like it or not, the difference between the Patriots and current Ram team was painfully obvious at Wembley Stadium last Sunday.
An excerpt from article on Billy Bellyache. (Aitan Katz - March 2012)
As is usual for the Pats during the Belichick era, the team is in the envious position of being one of football's best teams with millions remaining in salary cap and multiple picks in each of the first two rounds of the upcoming NFL draft.
To Belichick, it seems, free agency is a simple game of supply and demand. While the start of free agency on March 14 was fast and furious, highlighted by a blockbuster trade involving Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall and lavish contracts for former Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and former Colts receiver Pierre Garcon, Patriots fans quietly simmered, wondering why the team had yet to make a move.
After all, if we didn't sign a wide receiver, then we were doomed, right? (Sound familiar?)
Fast forward to this week: Brandon Lloyd is on board, signed to a measly three-year, $12 million deal; Anthony Gonzalez and Donte Stallworth are both locked in for one-year "prove it" contracts.
Basically, Belichick let the desperate teams overpay for the top of the crop, while he spent pennies (metaphorically speaking) on some of the sneakier, under-the-radar guys. I mean, $36 million for Pierre Garcon? No thank you.
Not only is Lloyd a better fit for the Josh McDaniels offense, but he's probably a more proven playmaker overall—and for one-third the price. Who is winning free agency?
Belichick did the same thing on the defensive side of the football, signing Jonathan Fanene and Trevor Scott, both proven commodities, for less than $14 million combined. The Pats took a long, hard look at Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Red Bryant, but with a $35 million price tag, they passed.
Once again, Belichick weighed the pros and the cons of the situation and made the move that saved the team millions in cap space and still managed to address the problem. Fanene is a beast, a versatile end/tackle hybrid. He can stuff the middle with his 6'4", 295-pound frame and he can get after the quarterback—he has tallied 12.5 sacks in the last two seasons.
Given New England's strengths and weaknesses going into the offseason, Belichick's plan of action has been nearly flawless. The only weakness that has been completely ignored is at the running back position, but maybe Belichick is comfortable letting Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead take over the reins.
The wheeling and dealing is far from over. There is still a lot of work to be done, and by limiting spending and attacking vulnerable areas, Belichick has given the team tons of flexibility with the NFL draft right around the corner. Given the addition of Lloyd to what was already the third-highest-scoring offense in the NFL, I think it's safe to say that Tom Brady will be ready to unleash another Hall of Fame season in 2012. With a few more smart, aggressive moves on defense, this team could turn out to be Belichick's finest.
The AFC is once again New England's for the taking, and Belichick's managerial shrewdness and coaching brilliance is the reason. He has this team in contention every single year. We all knew the excellence of Belichick the coach, but now I think it's safe to say that excellence has spread to Belichick the general manager.
Three things to like right now:
1) The Rams finally have a real head coach and former NFL player with years of HC experience.
2) The Rams have been playing hard on both sides of the ball. Harder than I’ve seen in a while.
3) Out of Fisher and Snead's first Ram draft, no less than seven rookies have been contributing meaningfully, 5 of which are starting. Rams haven’t seen that from a single draft class in a while. I believe only one drafted player (LB Aaron Brown) is no longer associated with the Rams, The rest made the team and contribute in spot duty, special teams, or both. If Watkins had not been injured, he likely would be contributing as well. Isaiah Pead and Brian Quick have been made small contributions and appear to be ascending players. Bottom line: 9 of our 10 draft picks not only made the team, but have played in regular season games. Over half are starting! Not bad ..
(Brockers, Jenkins, Givens, Trumaine Johnson, Daryl Richardson, Hekker, & Legatron)
*Bill Belichick always appears to have a pained look on his face - like he has a bellyache ..