New England Patriots Hit Bye Bye Bye Week with Tough Stretch Looming Ahead

Andrew CahillSenior Analyst IOctober 30, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 18:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots calls out the play as Sebastian Vollmer #76 listens in the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans on October 18, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

It's bye week 2009 for the New England Patriots, and this season is gearing up to be one of of the most epic seasons to be a fan of the New England Patriots.

This is a season that saw the return of Tom Brady, an emotional milestone that one probably would not even begin to comprehend unless you are a true diehard fan of my beloved Pats.

It is a season that saw the end of Scott Pioli holding back Bill Belichick in his true genius. Not only is this team performing in such a high capacity, they drafted 12 rookies, most of whom are getting decent play time.

Myron Pryor is one who sticks out in my mind as a serious find. The kid just has a motor that doesn't quit and has been providing quality push when rushing the passer.

Darius Butler is another rookie who is shaping up to follow the footsteps of some of the better cornerbacks to play, ever.

Other rookies this year that I feel will end up being marquee names for years to come, are Brian Hoyer, Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, Pat Chung, and Sebastian Vollmer. There are also some key free agent finds like safety Brandon McGowan and corner Leigh Bodden, not to mention the continued growth of previous draft choices and defensive leaders Jerod Mayo and Brandon Meriweather.

It is a season that saw the trade of a figurehead of the team, Richard Seymour, to the Oakland Raiders for a 2011 first-round draft pick. This pick is shaping up to be a very high pick as well, one that will certainly bring a future keystone to this Patriots franchise.

It is also a season that saw the retiring of Tedy Bruschi, which, while depressing, was necessary. His presence on ESPN is comforting, though, as well as his also being a voice of reason in that twisted anti-Boston medium.

The bye week comes almost midseason. At 5-2 the Patriots sit atop the AFC East and will stay that way no matter the outcome of this week's divisional matchup between the Jets and Dolphins.

The two losses the Patriots suffered were games they should have won, and as devastating as they may have felt at the time, it is promising to see the team close to the top after struggling to perform at their finest.

This season has seen an awe-inspiring comeback to open the season, lowest of lows in the doubters of Brady against the Jets, highs of beating up on weak teams like strong teams do, and a painful last minute loss—a last minute loss against a team that we may face, in the same place, in the AFC Championship game for a chance at revenge.

The Pats will take this week to heal up, having had a few painful injuries, as well as some small "bumps and bruises" every game.

Matt Light was injured, and rookie Sebastian "Seabass" Vollmer has played very well in replacement. Seabass did get mildly hurt himself, however, and may have compensated for this by committing a few holding penalties against the Bucs.

Downhill runner Sammy Morris and solid veteran pickup running back Fred Taylor were also hurt, leaving most of the running duties to Laurence Maroney. Despite all the criticism of Maroney, he has played well enough, just continuing to show flashes of the running back we hoped he would be.

One thing looking forward is the Patriots cannot look back. They need to forget about their two losses and only build upon their recent successes. The biggest point is that the next five games are going to define their 2009 season.

Week Nine they face the Miami Dolphins at home, then they travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in a Sunday night game, then it's back home against the Jets, then off to New Orleans to square off with the high-flying Saints on Monday night, and then back south again against the Dolphins in Miami after a short week.

The Patriots are going to wave bye to the bye week and plunge head first into the meat of their schedule, and only be better for it.

We'll see where they stand after the second game versus Miami, but they currently rest in a position to take charge of their destiny and mark the year of the return of Tom Brady as one of the most memorable, meaningful, inspiring, hopeful seasons ever.

Let's hear it for FOUR in FOURTY-FOUR!