The New England Patriots' defense has been the talk of the town (or at least the sports radio hosts in the town), as well as Bill Belichick's snappy response to a question posed to him by local reporter Kristine Leahy about the winless Colts.
Mike - You can't say that this Patriots defense is improving because they played a backup/stiff quarterback!!!!
Whether it Lou Merloni screaming at Mike Mutnansky or Tony Massarotti screaming at Mike Felger, you can't avoid hearing this line, over and over and over.
It's been a consistent theme over the last three weeks, and be prepared for it to continue for the rest of the regular season.
You're going to hear for the rest of the season that we have no way of knowing whether the Patriots, and in particular their defense, are any good because they're going against a series of poor teams who can't get out of their own way.
You might think that the Patriots played a pretty decent game this past Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. But to listen to the local "experts' - and in the case of Massarotti I use that term with the loosest of associations - the Patriots didn't do anything to win that game. It was handed to them on a silver platter by Vince Young and his underthrown passes.
This will be a recurring theme as the weeks go on, and Indianapolis, Washington, Denver, Miami and Buffalo come up on the schedule. Each week you're going to hear that this week's game won't tell us anything (unless of course, they lose, then we learn that this team isn't going anywhere.) and that we won't know anything about the team until the playoffs come.
With the 0-11 Colts on tap for Sunday, the topic grew even louder this week, and one reporter - Kristine Leahy from FOX25 tried to make the point at Wednesday's press conference with Bill Belichick that "you obviously can gauge your team's performance better against a team that is more competitive or has a better record..."
It seemed like Belichick was just waiting for this question. He didn't even wait for her to finish her statement/question. His response:
"I don't agree with that, so you can go ahead on your soliloquy, but I just don't agree with that. You don't think you can gauge a team based on how a player blocks Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? Who else would you gauge it against? Are you kidding me? Covering Reggie Wayne and [Austin] Collie and [Pierre] Garcon - you don't think you can gauge your coverage based on those players? I don't care what their record is. You think there are better receivers around than them? Better pass rushers than Freeney and Mathis? I'm not sure what games you're watching here."
Now it might've seemed like Belichick was jumping all over Leahy for a dumb question, but I don't think that was the case. It really had nothing to do with Leahy. As I mentioned, it seemed to me that Belichick was laying in wait for the question, which was answered quickly and prickly. He wanted someone to ask the question. Leahy obliged him.
Belichick was responding more to the media in general, rather than going after Leahy in particular. There's no doubt he's aware of all the talk about the soft schedule and whether you can really make any sort of judgment about the state of the team from these games. He clearly wanted to send the message, that yes, you certainly can judge the team for what happens in these games. Playing against Freeney and Mathis will certainly be a nice test for an offensive line that has had to shuffle the entire season, and which has some young, inexperienced players (Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Ryan Wendell) being worked into the mix. Playing against receivers like the Colts have, even if it is only working on covering the routes they run, will benefit the young and inexperienced defensive backs that are getting so much playing time right now.
All in all, the Belichick press conference Wednesday was both informative and entertaining. The coach spoke at length about Julian Edelman, and his transition to the defensive side of the ball, and also talked about getting his team ready for this week's game in the same manner as they would prepare for any other game, and why that is important.
Wait, I thought the next five games weren't important at all?