EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

September 23, 2008

Players, not Belichick, should be under the microscope

On Pro Football

Bill Burt

"We will find out how good of a coach Bill Belichick is in 2008."

How many times have we heard that the last two weeks? Maybe 250,000.

If the New England Patriots go 9-7, finish in second or God forbid, third behind the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, Belichick will be over-rated as a coach.

Wow.

So his coaching during 2001 season, playoff run and eventual Super Bowl title win in New Orleans over the St. Louis Rams was apparently a mirage.

What about the 20-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional game, the same Colts team whose quarterback threw for 49 TD passes in 2004?

Or the next week, when the Patriots scored 41 points against the NFL's best defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in the AFC Championship, in Pittsburgh?

We could point toward other games and more specifically, other game plans that would make the opening line of this column seem foolish, but I don't have the space.

Maybe it's time for some of the brunt of this season to fall on the players.

Maybe it's time for Tedy Bruschi, Randy Moss, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel, to name just a few, to step up and take charge of the 2008 season.

Doctors have confirmed that Tom Brady is not walking through that Gillette Stadium tunnel again in 2008.

Leadership is apparently in question. And Cassel doesn't have enough cache or experience yet to start pointing, shouting or demanding answers.

For a long time, Belichick and, most recently, Brady have copped a lion's share of the credit for what has happened around here since 2000.

While both have been categorized among the all-time greats among their coaching and quarterbacking peers, you can bet, quietly, many Patriots players have bit their tongues.

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