Purple Pennings with Patrick Buscone
Published: Friday, February 7, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014 15:02
For many people, it’s the stress of money, schoolwork, or other such important aspects of life that keep them up at night. While I certainly do have my fair share of these stresses, they do not cross my mind when my head touches the pillow. Instead, I am haunted by a far more powerful agent of insomnia: the what-ifs of sports.
I can’t tell you how many hours of sleep I’ve lost pondering such questions as: What if Kevin Garnett didn’t get hurt in the 2009 season? What if Kendrick Perkins didn’t get hurt before Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals? What if David Tyree didn’t miraculously catch the ball on his helmet? What if Wes Welker caught the likely Super Bowl winning pass against the Giants the second time? And the list goes on and on.
It is absolutely infuriating to explore these alternate, better, and painfully realistic alternatives. Currently the source of my restlessness is the 2013-2014 New England Patriots. This Patriots team was one of my favorites of all-time with their resiliency and heart which they displayed time and time again throughout the season. So, in that sense, the team did not disappoint me in the slightest. The circumstances under which the team was forced to play, on the other hand, irritated me to no end.
Coming into the season, the team already had to endure the Aaron Hernandez fiasco, a scandal that alone could doom a lesser franchise. Having your star tight end “allegedly” murder three people in the worst-planned manner generally does not bode well for the organization.
Wes Welker also skipped town to play for the Denver Broncos, Deion Branch retired, and the Patriots had to cut Brandon Lloyd after somewhat of a breakdown. If anyone is wondering what Lloyd is doing now, he’s acting in a one-star, zombie movie “After Effect” while trying to make it as a rapper; definitely a good career move for him, much better than getting paid millions to catch passes from Tom Brady before immediately hitting the deck to avoid getting hit.
The result of all of that offseason action was a Patriots team that lacked Tom Brady’s top-5 receiving options from the year before (Gronk opened the season injured), replaced with a hobbled Danny Amendola, special teams player Julian Edelman, rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, and Michael Hoomanawanui (I spell checked that one about five times and I’m still not sure I spelt it right).
The beginning of the season was painful at times, watching Brady try to acclimate the new receivers into the system. Yet, as the season progressed, the offense started to click. Julian Edelman, who was a college quarterback and until this season had played more snaps on special teams and defense than on offense, became Brady’s favorite target, amassing over 100 receptions while making fans think losing Welker was not all that bad after all.
The biggest development of the season offensively was the running game with the four-headed beast that was the LeGarrette “The Winnebago” Blount, Stevan “I’m good when I don’t fumble” Ridley, Shane “Kevin Faulk” Vereen, and Brandon “Throw me a screen” Bolden.
Defensively, the team came into the season more talented than they had been in probably eight years. They had a Pro-Bowler on the defensive line (Vince Wilfork), at linebacker (Jerod Mayo) and two Pro Bowlers in the secondary (Devin McCourty and Aqib Talib). Not to mention that they added a hard-hitting safety in Adrian Wilson and a solid defensive tackle in Tommy Kelley. Meanwhile, key emerging players such as Brandon Spikes, Chandler Jones, and Rob Ninkovich were returning.
I was thinking it was Super Bowl or bust for this team. In my mind, it would have taken unforeseen circumstances to keep the Patriots out of the big game. Unfortunately, those “unforeseen circumstances” were realized throughout the season in the form of injuries, each one more devastating than the last.