This is the week where the Patriots do their self-scouting. They basically go over everything they've done the first nine games, throw out the plays that don't work and refine the ones that do work. It's almost like half-time adjustments, which the Patriots perform better than any team in the NFL. I'm sure we can all think of a few plays that we'd like to see tossed. And I'm sure we'd all like to see a few more throws downfield to Bethel Johnson who I think can beat just about any corner one-on-one. As we head into the bye, here are some awards:
MVP - Tom Brady. I know the offensive side of the ball hasn't been as noticeable as the defensive side. But Brady has kept a team together that should have been decimated by injury. Brady's toughness, staying in the lineup even when he was hurt in the early part of the season, made a big difference to the overall team confidence. He's a true leader. He's got nine fourth quarter comebacks to his credit now and certainly on his way to amassing big numbers in that category.
Let me ask you this, is he the one player the Patriots could not win without? Last week they proved they can win without Richard Seymour. I didn't think that was possible.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Richard Seymour. This one isn't easy because I think Ty Law should get top consideration for this as well. Seymour, however, is what makes everything else possible. It's evident they missed his presence in the Denver game. The defense allowed Clinton Portis to run for 100 yards and Danny Kanell would have had a far worse day had Seymour been in there disrupting him.
BLOOD AND GUTS AWARD - Law. John Clayton of ESPN asked me Monday Night who I thought should be considered for the Pro Bowl. Law is certainly one of them, along with Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Damien Woody, Brady and Larry Izzo. Law has played at a high level with a couple of major injuries. If this is his last hurrah in New England, he's going out in style.
COACH OF THE YEAR - As I wrote a couple of weeks back, hard to argue with Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick for this award. Dick Vermeil, in coaching an undefeated team is also doing a marvelous job, though Vermeil hasn't lost one offensive starter this season. In terms of the team, however, two guys really stand out - Romeo Crennel for his work with this defense and defensive backs coach Eric Mangini, who has brought along two rookie DBs and also integrated Harrison so nicely into the secondary.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER - David Givens. For a seventh-round pick to suddenly become the Patriots' big, physical receiver, is quite a transformation. Continued...