No need to panic for Pats fans

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Posted Sept. 25, 2009, at 1:28 a.m.

No need to panic for Pats fans

• I’m not worried about Tom Brady.

The 24-7 media panic cycle is concerned that the New England Patriots quarterback didn’t step into passes against the New York Jets last Sunday the way he did before his knee injury a year ago.

But from what I could see, in most cases there was no place to step forward, the result of either considerable pressure by the Jets’ defensive front or a lack of protection.

The Patriots must believe Brady is OK — he has averaged 50 passes in the first two games.

Brady will be fine, but I’m not quite so sure about the Patriots’ offense.

The line grows more inconsistent against the best defenses, and the running game is nonexistent for no clear reason.

I’ve believed for several years that the Patriots have sacrificed some of their run- blocking priorities for the benefit of protecting Brady, but now they barely even bother to run.

And if the Patriots don’t at least attempt to establish a running game, and perhaps allow either Laurence Maroney or Fred Taylor enough carries to get themselves going, Brady’s health may be in danger before the season ends.

• I am worried about the University of Maine football team.

Two quarterbacks, no Jared Turcotte and a sluggish start to begin with do not bode well heading into Saturday’s game against Syracuse, then Maine’s Colonial Athletic Association schedule.

Turcotte’s abdominal injury and surgery this week removes indefinitely an All-American piece of the offense that normally would take some pressure off the quarterback.

Meanwhile, the old saying that when you have two starting quarterbacks, you really don’t have a No. 1 quarterback seems to be ringing true.

Perhaps the surgical clarification of Turcotte’s non-availability will prompt further clarification of the quarterback responsibilities.

The sooner the better.

Maine’s 20-16 loss at Albany last Saturday — a game the Bears controlled 16-0 at halftime — was one of the toughest defeats in recent history.

And a matchup against a Bowl Championship Series team — albeit a struggling one in Syracuse — isn’t necessarily the best bounce-back game.

But such circumstances, particularly those on the injury front, reveal why Maine football fans should celebrate the postseason opportunities that periodically do arise, for they aren’t easily earned.

• I’m not worried about the state of high school football in Maine.

Yes, there are several individual programs struggling to field sufficient numbers to ensure long-term viability, and those are a concern.

But many more signs point to the growth of high school football in these parts as simply a microcosm of the popularity of the sport nationwide.

Hermon High School’s first-ever home game drew more than 600 paying fans, and the Hawks won’t even be a varsity program until at least 2011.

And the halftime chatter at a recently covered soccer match held at another school that only recently added football to its sporting curriculum was focused not on the world’s brand of football that has been a fixture at the school for generations but America’s Game.

Basketball and football are the two high school sports in Maine that double as community bonding vehicles, basketball because it provides a diversion from the dark of winter, football because it provides a common respite from the rigors of the work week for two months each fall.

It’s good to have both around.

eclark@bangordailynews.net

990-8045

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/09/25/sports/no-need-to-panic-for-pats-fans/ printed on August 22, 2014