The Chowdah Bowl

by Brian Freedman (Chowdah)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life After Brady - So Far…So Good!

I can’t believe it has been over a year since I posted an article on the Chowdah Bowl! Considering the season the Patriots just went through that alone must put me in the Slacker hall of fame!  There is so much I could write about to get you caught up but then you would be reading a blog the size of War and peace!  So before I discuss the topic of Patriots life AB (After Brady) I will, for your reading pleasure, boil it down to some juicy nuggets:

·       I had the pleasure of seeing 2 of last year’s games in person. The first was @ Gillette against the BuffaLLLLo BiLLLLs (9/23/08) (courtesy of fellow club member Mr. Jim Keenan) I took my older son Chowdah Jr (aka Brandon),  tailgated with Mrs. B & PatriotsZip and saw the Patriots come away with a great W!  The second game was the MNF game vs. the Baltimore Ravens @ M&T Field. I was provided these tickets courtesy of the president of the Murphysfans, (Visit their website (http://www.murphysfans.com) and my good friend, Dugan. Needless to say Chowdah Jr. & I witnessed one of the greatest and improbable come from behind wins of that season. Our seats were in the corner of the end zone (Upper level) where Jabar Gaffney caught the GW TD!! Needless to say the fans down in “Bawl”imore were not too happy with having history denied! 

·       But what about the annual “Home game” tailgate our club throws every year at Gillette West? (Formerly known as Ralph Wilson Stadium). Well this Chowdah ended up missing the game for the 1st time since the club was founded. Prior to the season starting I had booked a family vacation down @ Disneyworld for the week of my wedding anniversary. I knew I was taking a chance but in looking at the math the odds were overwhelmingly on my side.  All I needed was for the game not to be on 11/18. I had a 94% chance of this working. Who can’t like those odds? Well the football Gods came down on me hard as that was the week the Patriots came to town! Chowdah Jr. & I went to the ESPN Club on the Disney boardwalk, ended up sitting in booth #54 (For Bruschi backers like us it couldn’t get any better!) and watched the Pat’s trounce the BiLLLLs  56-10!! (Figures the one game I miss turns out to be the biggest blowout in the two franchises head-to-head history!) We were surrounded by Pats fans and had a great time all the same. (Chowdah Jr’s greatest thrill was discovering the HD TV’s hanging above the stalls in the Men’s room! I thought he’d never come out!)

·       With the closing of What’s on Second the Clubs home last year moved to Jeremiah’s. The food was great! (I was addicted to those Bee Sting wings!!) But we discovered that, especially during the playoffs, that we were not really a priority to them. Don’t get me wrong, Jeremiahs was a successful bar/restaurant before we came in but, during the playoffs and Superbowl,  we had to turn away several club members as there wasn’t enough seating for everyone. So it was goodbye Jeremiah’s, Hello Stuckos! (More on that later)

·        A small group of our fan base, not satisfied with Jeremiahs, forged out into the wilderness and blazed out a homestead at The Distillery in Henrietta. I had the pleasure of watching a few games out there and was impressed with the set-up. We had the back corner of the restaurant with a fireplace and 3 HD TV’s. Although it was a shame that we all weren’t at the same place. It was a really great set up and I thoroughly enjoyed watching some of the seasons games there!

·        OK.. Here’s my rant on the Superbowl loss to the Giants: I can’t understand why Brady was so overly focused on getting the deep ball to Randy Moss. As our TD in the 3rd quarter showed.  The Giants had absolutely no defense when we flooded the 10-20 Short/Intermediate zones with Moss, Welker, Gaffney, Stallworth, Watson & Faulk. We could have picked them apart all day and Brady wouldn’t have taken half the beating he did!  On Manning/Tyrees TD:   Both Green and Seymour had their hands on him and let him go but the thing that has me scratching my head is that Tyree’s legs were in the air as he balanced the ball on his helmet. Why didn’t Harrison take his right hand off of the front of his @#$@ shirt and knock the ball to the ground?  The bottom line is this: Defense wins championships and over the past 2 seasons the Patriots Defense was given a >3 point lead (Don’t give up TD =  Win game!) with under 2 minutes and for the second straight season they failed to keep the opposing team, (Giants & Colt)s out of the end zone!!! We should be celebrating our 5th ring this year!!

·       After the Boston Red Sox won their 2nd WS this century (New Century..New Count!! Red Sox 2 – Stankees 0!!) I finally was relieved as all those morons who made those “Got Rings” Stankee shirts were being driven out of business!  But then the Pats had to lose to the NY Giants and they now had a new venue to put out their crap!.  Some of the shirts I saw just made me sick! (18 wins and 1 PERFECT Loss!..Blecch!)

·       From the “How winning can be bad department”: Remember when the Patriots were America’s darlings. Those lovable, no-nonsense, hard working, team-first underdogs! Well now it seems everyone is rooting against our beloved team! The Patriots have even being compared to, of all the teams, the NY STANKEES!!! (Excuse me while I lose my lunch!) Well we all know the ride has to end at sometime and whenever we reach that proverbial end (Hopefully not too soon!) we can proudly take our three rings (BuffaLLLLo still holding at…ZERO!) our two-times 21 game regular season win streaks and all those other records we smashed along the way and file them for future reference to “The great old days” until the next Patriots Dynasty is built!

·       It’s sad that the Chicago Bears go 18-1 and are considered one of the greatest teams in NFL history but the Pats go 18-1 and because of the timing of our 1 loss we go down as one of the biggest disappointments.  Seriously… Who out there is bragging about us going 16-0? It has been rendered meaningless!

·       If there are football Gods who deem a perfect season impossible then I would have gladly given up any of the 16 regular season W’s (Even the games I went to) if it meant winning that 4th SB ring!  

 

Well, enough of the “year in review”. Let’s look forward to this season (Which as of this writing is 2 weeks old):

 

Let me just start by saying “Its good to be a Chowdah!” When one of your teams rips your heart out, like the Pats did, another steps up! Let’s hear it for your 2008 NBA Champions the Boston Celtics, who by adopting a very “Patriot like” team and defense first philosophy, went from Worst to First and captured their record 17th NBA title!!  All we need now is for the Bruins to bring home the cup before 2010 and it will be the greatest decade in Chowdah history!!!!! (Hear that B’s?? You are ON THE CLOCK!!!!)

 

A new season and with it a new home… We needed to find another scenario like “What’s” where we didn’t have to compete with other teams fans. A place we can call our own! Well, we discovered Stucko’s thanks to long time member Frank Artcheko whose friend owns and runs this fine establishment.  I cannot in good faith write much more about watching games at our new home as I have not officially been there for a game this season (Nooooo…. I have NOT been kicked out of this place! THANK YOU!)). But based on my visit before the season started I can say that it has a huge back room that can easily accommodate up to 100+ Patriot fans, the food was both affordable and tasty, there is a nice separation between the bar and the back room (For those who want to bring their kids) and, speaking of kids, a very nice arcade room which I know my two boys will really like!    

 

I can honestly say I have not missed a single snap of a Patriots game since this club was founded in 1994. So it is very strange for me to be missing games this season.  My reasons for this though are quite sound.  Chowdah Jr.  is playing football for my home town youth league.  Before this season started he went up the hill at practice to get his Game Jersey and came down with a huge smile on his face.  Why? Cuz he got number …are you ready for this… #54!!!!!  That’s’ right! I got a little Bruschi of my own out there and he plays defense too!  I tell ya it brought a tear to this Bruschi backer’s eye! He’s currently the nose tackle (aka Vince Wilfork) I love that I can wear my lucky #54 Bruschi starter jerseys to his games and fit right in with all the other parents! As soon as his season ends we are gonna be headed back to the club!

 

This season…..sighhhh…one that had such promise at the start… I often call Mr. Keenan to get his take on the upcoming season and we agreed BB (Before Brady) a record of 14-2 was attainable and the worst we could expect was 12-4 and another trip to the Superbowl. Well after that 1st series against KC that all changed.  We all know what happened.. 5 for 6 on the 1st series, marching down the field, Brady takes a shot to the knee (Replay shows that he KC defender was “directed” into him by our own OL and I would not call it a dirty play) and poof.. He’s gone for the season!  

 

Now our season relies on one Matt Cassel, the same Matt Cassel who played so poorly in Pre-season that I was sure he, not Gutierrez, would be the one cut.  The same Matt Cassel who was backup his entire collegiate career and who had not started a game since HIGH SCHOOL!!! Much to my surprise he led the Patriots on, not one, but TWO 80+ yard TD drives and the Pats beat the Chiefs. 

 

Not bad….Not bad.. But how would he handle starting his 1st game against the Brett Favre led and much hated NY Jets ..ON THE ROAD???  The answer was…. Quite respectable! He moved the offense very efficiently drive after drive and, most importantly, he had no turnovers as the Patriots took a much needed Division Road W 19-10!!!

 

So two weeks in… The Pats are 2-0.. The more things change the more they stay the same.  I have a good feeling about this season, I really do, but my expectations have changed.   

 

So here is Chowdah’s primer as to why life, after, Brady, is not going to be the disaster many have predicted it would be:

 

·        First and foremost forget everything you knew about last season!!! This Patriots team is probably going to average 17 – 24 points a week. A far cry from last year’s output. What this means is that our “bend but don’t break” defense is going to have to step it up each and every week! I would have to say the D had it pretty easy last year, thanks to Brady and the gang, but now it’s time to get back to work! Belichick is one of the best coaches in not only creating a unique defensive strategy but also making the proper adjustments come game day!  With the infusion of young talent such as LB Jerod Mayo and Safety Brandon Merriweather the Pats D will once again stand tall and carry this team!

·        We have been so spoiled by Brady’s offensive production these past few years that we may have forgotten that when he 1st took over back in 2001 he ran a simpler Pro-style offense.  Remember how, even after he won SB36 for us, many so called “experts” questioned his ability to become a truly great QB because of his “inability to throw the deep ball” (Boy, were they wrong!)  It wasn’t that Brady couldn’t throw the long ball it was that the offense Belichick and Charlie Weiss developed for him was designed to reduce mistakes and turnovers and build his confidence in running the team. Which meant a balanced pro-style attack featuring equal parts run and pass and several short passes to his RB’s, TE’s and WR’s! THE SAME OFFENSE THAT THEY HAVE MATT RUNNING NOW!  Look at the targets Matt has to choose from Welker, Gaffney, Faulk, Watson and a certain receiver.. You may have heard of him… RANDY MOSS?? It will be only a matter of time before Matt has both the timing and confidence to start lobbing those deep balls to arguably one of the greatest WR’s playing the game today!  But, until then, he also has a 4 headed RB attack in Laurence Maroney, Slamming Sammy Morris, Lamont Jordan and, the best change of pace back in NFL history… Kevin Faulk to help keep the defenses honest!

·        Look at our schedule this season.  I haven’t seen so many cupcakes since the last time I visited my local bakery!  The scheduling Gods certainly didn’t create this year’s schedule based on last year’s performance. We got KC, Miami (twice) the Rams, 49er’s, the Rai’Duh’s, Cardinals, Seahawks and don’t forget the BiLLLLs at the end of the season. No offense, but our team could go out there with NO QB and beat these teams!!  I mean Club Prez, Dean, at QB, with beers in both fists, could win every one of them!!!! Seriously, if Brady weren’t out we’d be looking at another 16-0 regular season!

·        Think about this….When is the last time we Pats fans went into a game not expecting….not KNOWING our team was going to win? Don’t get me wrong, seeing the Pats win them all up to the SB last season was great but after a while when your team is expected to win week after week (after week…after week…)those individual victories hold a little less punch then before. Remember those days back then when the Pats were like the old Cardiac Kids from Cleveland? No lead was safe... Every game came down to those last few minutes in the 4th Quarter. Remember the rush of adrenalin and the sense of fear of a last minute let down which was then replaced by a sweeping sense of euphoria as the Pats pulled off another improbable W?  Well for a few games this season (Broncos, Chargers & Indy, to name a few) we are back to those pre-Brady days where each W is going to be that much more satisfying because now there is the possibility of the Pats not winning that week.  Enjoy this feeling now as it will disappear next season when Brady comes back!

 

 

Now for this year’s prediction:

 

Will the Pats go perfect this season?...No. Will they go 14-2?..12-4?.. Probably not.

I am predicting a 10-6 record and another AFC east title for our beloved Patriots.

And after they make an improbable run through the playoffs to the SB and take home their 4th trophy (At the expense of the Dallas Cowboys) and Belichick wins the most deserved coach of the year honor in the history of the NFL. It is then..that we in Patriot Nation… can stand proudly and bellow out at the top of our lungs….

 

Sing it with me….

 

PAAAAATTTRRRIIOOOOOOTTSSS RRRUUULLLEEE!!!!!!

 

Here’s to a great 2008 Season.. See you all at the club! (eventually)

 

Chowdah….OUT!   

 

PAAAATTTRRRIIIOOOTTTSSSSS   RRRRUUULLLEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Past Chowdah Bowls

9/30/05-Here we go again

1/30/05-Spoiled

9/13/04 First game 2004

2/04/04 How Sweet it is!!!

1/23/04 Report from cloud 9

1/23/04 Patriots vs. Bills 2003 comparison

12/13/03 Zilla and Chowdah Take on Nor'easter