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Sunday, July 18, 2010

New England Patriots 2010 Analysis and Preview

Last Years Record            10-6
Wins: Bills (x2), Falcons, Ravens, Titans, Bucs, Dolphins, Jets, Panthers,  Jaguars
Losses: Jets, Broncos, Colts, Saints, Dolphins, Texans, Ravens (Playoffs)
Biggest Playmaker            Tom Brady
QB, Michigan, Drafted #199, 11th Year
Tom Brady consistently makes plays and makes everyone around him better.  Brady could have another great year with a veteran offensive line and a very solid receiving corps.
Impact Player            Vince Wilfork
NT, Miami, Drafted #21, 7th Year
Entering his seventh season with the Patriots, Wilfork has been a staple of the Patriots 3-4 defense.  A huge key to this defense is a dominating nose tackle who can stuff the middle and take on two blockers.  While he may not boast huge numbers, he is the key to the Pats’ defense.
Biggest Free Agent Addition            Torry Holt
WR, NC State, Drafted #7, 12th Year
Torry Holt will be a great complement to fellow WR’s Randy Moss and Wes Welker.  As Moss consistently draws double teams down the field, Torry Holt could have a big year.  He only had 51 catches for 722 yards and zero touchdowns (all career lows) in 2009, but he was playing for the run-first Jacksonville Jaguars.
Biggest Offseason Loss            Benjamin Watson
TE, Georgia, Drafted #32, 7th Year
Watson has been consistent for the Patriots, and losing him and fellow TE Chris Baker left the Pats with a serious question mark at the position.  Now they will look to Alge Crumpler to be the leader of the group, with two rookies (Gronkowski and Hernandez) to likely be the top pass catchers.
Biggest Draft Steal            Aaron Hernandez
TE, Florida, Drafted #113, Rookie
Hernandez is a versatile athlete that will fit in very well with the Patriots system.  At Florida he was involved in the passing game as a tight end and a wideout, as well as in their option attack.  Hernandez is electric with the ball in his hands and picking him up in the fourth round was a great move by the Pats’ management.
Biggest Draft Reach            Zoltan Mesko
P, Michigan, Drafted #150, Rookie
Mesko has a big leg and the potential to be a game changer, but drafting a punter is always risky business.  Not to take anything away from Mesko, as he has been impressive so far, but only time will tell if it was worth using a draft pick to pick him up.                 
Offseason Grade            B
The Patriots went quietly about their business, focusing mainly on re-signing veterans such as Vince Wilfork, Kevin Faulk, Leigh Bodden and Stephen Neal.  The Patriots addressed their needs in the draft, selecting two tight ends who should be factors immediately, and bolstering their defense with the selections of versatile CB Devin McCourty and LB Brandon Spikes.  Getting a deal done with LG holdout Logan Mankins is a must. 
X-Factor            Wes Welker
WR, Texas Tech, Undrafted, 7th Year
After blowing out his knee in the final (irrelevant) regular season game in 2009, Welker's knee should be a question mark only because of his importance to the team. Julian Edelman served as an adequate replacement but Welker is a vital part of the Patriots' success.  Welker should be cleared sometime in August
Name You Should Know            Tully Banta-Cain
OLB, California, Drafted #239, 8th Year
Banta-Cain rejoined the Patriots after two seasons in San Francisco.  After seeing his role increased in 2006 in which he registered 5.5 sacks at OLB, he left for California, only to register four in two years combined.  Tully stepped up big for the Pats last year with 9.5 sacks, and look for continued success this year
Rising Star            Jerod Mayo
ILB, Tennessee, Drafted #10, 3rd Year
Drafted in the first round out of Tennessee in the 2008 draft, Jerod Mayo has been a consistent player in the middle of the Pats’ defense.  However, Mayo has only 1.5 sacks, zero interceptions and two forced fumbles in two years combined.  If he can become more of a consistent playmaker Mayo will be the next star of the Pats’ defense.
Offensive Outlook            A-
Tom Brady is still the quarterback of the New England Patriots.  Coming off a season in which the Pats posted the third highest yards per game totals, we expect similar success for the Pats offense this year who added the dynamic (but aging) Torry Holt, all-around TE Rob Gronkowski and playmaking TE Aaron Hernandez.  If Laurence Maroney can stay healthy and have a successful year, expect the Patriots to be very hard to stop.
Defensive Outlook            B-
The Patriots most glaring weaknesses is their pass rush, where they ranked 23rd in total sacks last year.  Tully Banta-Cain stepped up with 9.5 a year ago and will have to continue his success.  Vince Wilfork is consistently huge (literally) in the middle, while the young secondary must step up.  The Patriots will need a few players to become consistent playmakers if they want to have an elite defense.
Special Teams Outlook            B
After Chris Hanson's 32nd ranking yards per punt in 2009, the Patriots drafted Zoltan Mesko from Michigan. Stephen Gostkowski has been reliable throughout his career, nailing 19/20 FG attempts inside the 40.  Welker averaged a very healthy 12.5 yards per punt return last year.  If the Patriots can get decent production in their kick return game (Brandon Tate?) they could have a very effective Special Teams unit.
Projected 2010 Record            10-6
It’s hard to bet against the mysterious Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady, especially when surrounded with weapons.  If the tight ends can overcome their inexperience and the Patriots can generate a pass rush, look for them to be hard to beat.  It certainly won’t be easy for the Pats, as they have the 6th hardest schedule in the NFL (according to 2009 Win-Loss Records).

1 comment:

  1. projected record after that embarassing loss, 17-0