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Dave D'Onofrio's Patriots Notebook: Belichick, Brady are reasons for optimism
Important players went to the operating table, or to a rival team, or to jail. The status of a starting cornerback has been unsettled since midsummer as he awaits a court date that could impact his season. The draft came and went, seemingly without adding a player who can make an immediate impact on the defensive side. Free agency passed similarly, too, except for a couple players who come in with equal parts uncertainty and potential.
They've still got the coach, and they've still got the quarterback — and while that may seem oversimplified and trite, in today's NFL it's enough to justify that the expectations remain the same in New England as they've been for a decade, which is to say the mentality of the Patriots and their fans should be nothing short of Super Bowl or bust.
It's not impossible to have success — or even to win a Super Bowl — without a coach and a quarterback who are among the best in their profession. But having both is typically enough to at least keep a team competitive. And not only do the Patriots have a couple that are among the best, they have a couple that might in fact be THE best in their respective roles.
"The mental toughness, the work ethic, the core principles and fundamentals of the game have not been tested under game conditions," Brady said. "They've been tested in preseason, in practice and workouts, but nothing is like the games. Especially when there are 70,000 people in the stands, they're televised and there are millions of people watching on TV. That's where you see the best of the best."
Dave D'Onofrio covers the Patriots for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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