For the second time in franchise history, the Patriots look to win its third Super Bowl in four years. Let me repeat that, not once BUT TWICE, the Patriots are looking to win it’s third Super Bowl in four years, oh and both of these runs are within 20 years of each other! That is absolutely asinine. We are witnessing history and we’re taking it for granted.
So, which team was better? The 2004 team that first accomplished the feat, or the 2017 that is trying to accomplish it.
2004 Belichick vs. 2017 Belichick. I gave this to 2017 Belichick simply because of how he has been able to not only adapt to the current NFL, but mostly how he shaped the current NFL. The game of football back then was way different than today’s game, mainly on offense.
40 year old Tom vs. 26 year old Tom. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think I like 40 year old Tom. He’s been through defeat, lost a perfect season even. I think 40 year old Tom has more drive and more edge than 26 year old tom. He may not have the arm strength or the accuracy but he has the “IT” factor, that “I’m not going down again” mentality.
THE RUNNING BACKS
Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk vs. Dion Lewis and James White. Don’t get me wrong, Dillon and Faulk were absolute studs. Kevin Faulk was the first back Belichick really used as a passing threat and Dillon was a true bruiser…BUT…I have to give the edge to Lewis and White. Lewis and White are so versatile when they have the ball and are great at making guys miss. Even though Lewis does have some fumble issues, I still trust him in crunch time.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDS
This one was probably the trickiest one. It’s Deion Branch, David Givens, David Patten, and Daniel Graham vs. Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and Rob Gronkowski. Deion Branch still to this day is one of my all time favorite Patriots receivers. It was borderline not fair having Branch and Brady on the same field. They could just look at one another and know what each other was thinking. However; the only reason why the 2017 Patriots win this category, is Rob Gronkowski. The way that he can take over a game is unbe-freaking-livable. You have to know where Gronk is at all times.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE
This one is a no brainer Matt Light, Joe Andruzzi, Dan Koppen, Steve Neal, and Brandon Gorin vs. Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and (insert whoever you want here at right tackle). I will say that as of late, this offensive line has picked it up but that 2004 line wouldn’t even let you sniff Brady. They were five huge guys that would beat the living crap out of any defensive line and they would laugh at you as you tried. This one easily goes to them.
THE DEFENSIVE LINE
Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, and Richard Seymour vs. Trey Flowers, Malcolm Brown, and Lawrence Guy. Just like the offensive line, the defensive line clearly goes to the 2004 squad. You couldn’t even get back to the line of scrimmage if you tried to run on these guys and big Vince always hogged up 2 offensive linemen which always left a linebacker to roam free in the backfield. Hands down this one goes to the 2004 squad. (Hint, you’ll notice a theme on the defensive side of the ball in terms of who’s better.)
Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest, and Mike Vrabel vs. Elandon Robers and Kyle Van Noy. James Harrison hasn’t been here long enough to really be considered but he still can’t bring this linebacking corp anywhere close to the 2004 squad. Ted Johnson alone was the stuff of nightmares, and we all know how well Tedy Bruschi was. But watching McGinest and Vrabel was like watching a cat play with a mouse they knew the other teams offensive playbook better than the other team knew it. (And Vrabel caught a TD pass in SB 39). Once again, this one isn’t even close.
Ty Law, Asante Samuel, Rodney Harrison, and Eugene Wilson vs. Malcom Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung, and Devin McCourty. I’m pretty sure Rodney Harrison alone is better than this Patriots secondary, he himself was the original “Legion of Boom.” He was easily the greatest defensive back in football at the time. Butler and Gilmore are a nice duo but man have they struggled this year. Ty Law and Asante Samuel were even better than Browner and Revis from SB 49. They were scary good.
The 2004 Patriots are clearly the better team. As you know what they say, defense wins championships. And that 2004 defense was one of the best in NFL history and they shut down Terrell Owens in SB 39 (granted he did have an ankle injury in that game). No wonder why Brady is the G.O.A.T., he constantly was practicing against some of the greatest defenses ever.
Written By: Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)