Monday, January 3, 2011
Revisiting preseason predictions
By Mike Reiss
When revisiting preseason predictions for the New England Patriots, a few of Bill Belichick's trademark comments from the past 11 seasons come to mind.
"My crystal ball is a bit cloudy."
"Some good, some not so good."
"I'm sure there's some he'd like to have back."
Exactly, and with the 2010 regular season officially in the books, here is a good-natured look back at where it all went wrong, and a few places it went right.
1. The Patriots will finish with 10 wins. Wrong! The initial prediction was 11, but that was lowered after a string of big injuries in training camp. Imagine if the prediction had been 14. Some might have gone as far as to call me Robert Kraft's fifth son.
2. Wes Welker will not lead the team in receptions for the first time since 2007. Wrong! And it wasn't even close. Welker's 86 receptions were easily a team high, besting Deion Branch's 61. A sliver of credit is given for this thought: "The Patriots look primed to spread the ball around more but he should still be in the 70-catch range."
3. Brandon Spikes will be in the discussion for defensive rookie of the year. Wrong! Come on, man. You had the wrong rookie (Devin McCourty). Always go with the first-rounder.
4. Logan Mankins will play for the Patriots this season. Right! Verbal grenades were tossed, but it was hard to believe Mankins would sit out the season. Finally got one right.
5. Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski will have double-digit touchdown catches. Right! The Patriots had struggled in the red zone in 2009, but it turns out all they had to do was find a big, rangy Arizona Wildcat and "Bear down!"
6. Stopping the run, not rushing the passer, will be the team's primary issue. Wrong! Don't mess with Vince Wilfork.
7. Defensive lineman Mike Wright will win the 12th player award. Wrong! Besides the fact the award has been retired for a few years, no one would have caught up with running back Danny Woodhead. Even Tom Brady admitted to being surprised by his contributions.
8. Stephen Gostkowski will have some early struggles adjusting to a new operation. Right! Gostkowski opened the year 1-for-4 on field goals, calling it a "disaster." Whether that was a result of the new operation isn't clear, but when you are racking up the "wrongs," you take it and move on.
9. Tom Brady will throw for more than 30 touchdowns. Right! Reminder to self: In the future, it's always a good bet to put your chips on Brady. The guy's a winner, in every sense of the word.
10. Fred Taylor will be the team's leading rusher. Wrong! Only off by 853 yards. Great season, BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.