In retrospect, its not an enormous surprise that the Patriots released Joseph Addai. First of all, hes 29, which in running back years puts him on the cusp of Social Security. Second, in reality, its been three seasons since Addai was any good; five seasons since he was great. Third, hes injury prone. Fourth, he was reportedly unimpressive at OTAs. Fifth and sixth, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Six and a half, Danny Woodhead.
Like I said, all things considered, Addais release shouldnt come as a huge shock. And it didnt. Still, when the news first surfaced yesterday afternoon, it conjured up a familiar feeling. Something we probably havent felt around here since the night before the Super Bowl, when Tiquan Underwood and his high top fade were handed a pink slip on the eve of the biggest day of their life.
In a word: Belichick!
Theres nothing quite like the abruptness of a Bill Belichick transaction. They come in many shapes and forms: Cuts, trades, signings, silent suspensions. I dont know much about the future, but I know that yesterday wasnt the last time this season that youll be moping around on Twitter or watching the Bottom Line, when all of sudden: Patriots have released Player X or Patriots have signed player Y or Player Z will be inactive for Sundays game or Player has been relegated to the crawl space in Bill Belichicks attic and youll think: Huh? What? Did that really just happen?"
Its just funny, because he gets us every time. He makes a random move like signing Addai last May, and every one starts buzzing. Oh, wow. Did you see they signed Addai? Is he the new BenJarvus? The next Kevin Faulk? We spend the next two months evaluating the Pats running back situation with Addais undetermined role hanging over everything. Wondering where and how hell fit in. Then on the eve of Training Camp: BOOM. Hes gone. He never existed. And were left with a slew of paragraphs like the one I opened with. Listing all the different ways Addai was never a good fit. Of course, by the time youre done reading this post, the Pats will have probably re-signed Addai to a three-year deal and named him an offensive captain. Thats just the way it goes.
Its always a mind-game with Belichick. At least from our perspective. No ones better at making all of us feel stupid. At convincing us that hes thinking one thing, and then turning perception upside down. Almost everything he does exudes some level of mystery, shock and awe. For instance, take Training Camp 2011: Trading for Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. Cutting Ty Warren, James Sanders and, to a lesser extent, Brandon Meriweather. Or just this week: Signing Visanthe Shiancoe! Sure, part of that is the nature of the cut throat NFL, but its just as much the nature of Belichick.
And believe, Im not suggesting he plays these games on purpose. Because the truth is, he doesnt care. And why should he? Unlike some other teams in town, Belichick never considers public perception when making a move. He never adds insight on why he did this or what he was thinking with that. He goes about business in a vacuum, and we stand outside banging on the glass, just begging for information. He never gives it up, so were just left to assume. We pretend like we know whats up. We try to make something of the nothing that hes provided. And we usually end up looking silly.
But if were looking silly, it can only mean one thing.
Belichick is back.
And so are the Pats.