Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Revisiting preseason predictions
By Mike Reiss
|Mike Reiss nailed his prediction for Aaron Hernandez but was off the mark on Chad Ochocinco.|
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It's that time again.
In the spirit of accountability, and with the idea of providing the faithful readers of ESPNBoston.com with some laughs, let's revisit the 10 bold predictions made at the start of the 2011 New England Patriots season.
Prediction: Patriots will win 12 games
What I wrote: "They know they can't count on the defense to force 38 turnovers again, but with a pressure-oriented approach, they should dictate play on a more regular basis."
What happened: They generated more pressure, but the revamped D was more of a disappointment. Still, 13 wins, so can I get half-credit here?
What I wrote: "The way the Patriots plan to rotate defensive linemen this season, Haynesworth might not even play 50 percent of the snaps. The approach could be perfect for him, keeping him fresh and allowing him to turn it on when he is on the field."
What happened: The only sack was Bill Belichick canning Haynesworth after eight games. Who knew sportswriters could be wrong?
Prediction: Fifty catches for Ochocinco
What I wrote: "Over his 10-year career, Chad Ochocinco has averaged 75 receptions per season. He won't hit that mark because of a combination of factors -- learning the offense, struggles to separate from defensive backs and the Patriots' style to spread the ball around."
What happened: 15 catches. Was on the right track, just didn't think it would fall off that sharply. Players sometimes wish they could have a play or two back. For sports reporters, sometimes it's just a few letters -- Fift-'een', not fif-'ty', buddy.
Prediction: Contract extension for Jerod Mayo
What I wrote: "The fourth-year linebacker, whose deal extends through the 2012 season, will ink a long-term contract sometime before the end of the team's off week in late October. ... The Patriots have the maneuverability to make it happen now, so why wait?"
What happened: Delayed blitz. The extension came ... but not until December.
Prediction: Randy Moss will not play for the team
What I wrote: "While Moss almost surely would come out of retirement if the Patriots called him, it would take an unexpected run of injuries for such a scenario to be considered."
What happened: No run of injuries, no Moss. We're on a little roll here.
Prediction: Eighty catches for Aaron Hernandez
What I wrote: "If he stays healthy, the second-year tight end is in position to have a monster season."
What happened: Pathetic prediction. He had 79.
Prediction: Splitting with the Jets (revised)
What I wrote, Part I (Sept. 8): "In the much anticipated rivalry between the Patriots and New York Jets, each team will hold its ground at home -- the Patriots winning in Week 5 and the Jets evening the score in Week 10."
What I wrote, Part II (Oct. 11): "I think the Jets have been the better team in recent weeks, but I don't think all the gloom and doom around the Patriots is reflective of a team that won't show up. ... I like the Jets' mental toughness, but I also like the Patriots in that area. I think they get rewarded this week for hanging tough in tough times."
What happened: When an audible works, it can be a beautiful thing. (Editor's note: Sorry Mike, no audibles allowed. There's a reason we call them PRE-season predictions. Nice try though.)
Prediction: Julian Edelman -- two punt returns for touchdowns
What I wrote: "If he stays healthy, the third-year receiver will be recognized as one of the league's more dangerous returners on both kickoffs and punts."
What happened: Just one. A true Nostradamus would have predicted his impressive transition to slot cornerback.
Prediction: Lonie Paxton again won't be forgotten
What I wrote: "Snappers aren't talked about unless they cost their team points (or a game), and the Patriots enter the season with rookie free agent Danny Aiken, who spent training camp with the Bills. It's risky."
What happened: Aiken was solid. File this one under the "sportswriters-reaching-because-they-are-running-out-of-ideas" category.
Prediction: Playoff questions will be answered
What I wrote: "This team will be in the mix to win a Super Bowl ring in Indianapolis."
What happened: To be determined. But I feel good about this one, even if turning on local sports radio sometimes leads to the feeling this is a 3-13 team.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.