Sure it was only the first game of the season, and everyone is allowed the opportunity to use the "rusty" excuse in the early going, but you have to admit that the Patriots looked like mere mortals against the Bills on Monday Night Football.
I don't view the Bills as a legitimate contender for anything this season, and yet they went stride-for-stride with Belichick's boys, and they actually dominated the vast majority of the game. Trent Edwards is one of the more limited starting quarterbacks in the game, but he was both efficient and effective against the Patriots' new-look defense. It wasn't an impressive opening performance for a unit looking to "go young."
Speaking of the Patriots' defense, much is riding on the health of linebacker Jerod Mayo, the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year winner. Outside of interior lineman Vince Wilfork, Mayo is probably New England's most important defensive player. How will the injury he suffered Monday night effect the rest of his year? Will it eventually cost him the season?
We'll have to wait and see. But on to the offensive unit...
Tom Brady finished with almost 400 passing yards, and this sounds odd to say, but he didn't look that great. His velocity increased as the game progressed (which is obviously a good sign for the Pats and their fans), but he didn't showcase the ability to stretch the field the way he did in 2007. Perhaps that will come as the season moves along, but it's certainly something to monitor and keep an eye on.
Perhaps most unimpressive about the Patriots was their offensive playcalling. Twice on third down, and once on FOURTH down, New England opted to run the ball. All three times they were stuffed by the Bills' defense in embarrassing fashion.
What happened to the gunslinging days of old? The Patriots passing on third-and-three was a lock. No one used to be able to stop their short-range passing attack, and yet Belichick lacked confidence in it on Monday night.
Could they be missing Josh McDaniels' offensive aggressiveness? Hey, it's a possibility.
In the end I expect the Patriots to be fine, but it doesn't appear that they will return to their invincible form of the 2007 regular season.
Maybe it's better to come off Cloud Nine, and join the rest of us down here. Maybe this time around, that will help them avoid a Giant letdown come playoff time.
By the way, don't sleep on my Jets, Bill!
("JFro," aka John Frascella, is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land."
It's the first full-length book centered on Boston Red Sox's popular
general manager Theo Epstein. Preview or purchase it online at Amazon.com, Barnes
and Noble or Borders. It's currently stocked in Barnes and Noble stores
throughout the U.S. Also, check out John on Twitter.)