On Sunday night Baltimore Ravens reserve linebacker and special teams player Brendon Ayanbadejo made some disparaging comments about the New England Patriots through twitter. He called the high tempo offense a “gimmick” rather than a legitimate style. While Ayanbadejo was criticized for his comments nationwide the Patriots decided not to comment and left the situation alone. This was the correct decision for the AFC east champions.
Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach of the Patriots in 2001, the Patriots have usually demonstrated the “Patriot way” which includes not getting caught up in trash talk leading up to a game. This style has helped them over the years by keeping controversy away even if other teams decide to do so. Using the methods of the “Patriot way” is going to help the team again this week.
A popular incident where the Patriots abandoned this style was leading into their 2011 playoff game against the New York Jets. In the week leading up to the game, Patriots Pro Bowl wide receiver Wes Welker made several references to a foot fetish of Jets head coach Rex Ryan. As usual with comments made about an opposition, Welker’s jabs headlined the matchup which the Patriots went onto lose 28-21. Since that incident no other Patriots player has gone that route.
As for Ayanbadejo’s comments, they will likely backfire. For one, this reserve linebacker has no impact on his team or any game they play and therefore doesn’t have the physical ability to back up his comments. Players who do have an impact like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs will likely be upset with Ayanbadejo for making comments when he has no impact on the game.
The other reason is that the Patriots have unquestionably the best offense in the NFL. During the 2012 regular season the Patriots led the league in both yards per game and points per game. They have a player at quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end that could argue to be one of the top three at their given positions in the league. If there’s one group not to give extra motivation leading up to a conference championship game, it’s the Patriots offense.
Ayanbadejo’s comments were thoughtless and detrimental to his team. They can cause both friction within the Ravens locker room and give motivation to an opposition that needs none. The Patriots made the right decision this week by refusing to acknowledge the comments even though they most certainly heard about them. By ignoring the situation, the Patriots are letting the Ravens cause problems amongst themselves which gives the favorites one more advantage leading into Sunday night’s championship game.