With the Hall of Fame weekend here, I thought I would jot down some thoughts about the upcoming Patriots season.
Earlier this summer I wrote a little blurb about Tim Tebow but I really haven’t done anything substantial about the Patriots’ roster up until this point. I think we have all read the pre-season projections that essentially start and end with “who the fuck is he going to pass to.” While this will be a look at the roster, I hope we can go a little deeper than that.
Quarterback: Did you know Tom Brady turned 36 today?
It hurts to say, but as a Patriots fan, we are coming close to having a dire need to find the next guy. The odds of it being Ryan Mallet are low. You have to figure he is going to bolt sometime soon. The third dude on the roster is Timmay! (Tim Tebow) And I don’t think he is a serious option.
All that being said, it’s hard not to see Quarterback as the Patriots’ overwhelming strength this season. It will be the position that makes the Wide Receivers look much better than they actually are and it will be the team’s overwhelming legacy for a long period of time.
Running back: I think this is one of the strongest, most versatile positions on the team and will undoubtedly factor into the Patriots’ success this season substantially. Steven Ridley is the superstar. The “beast” as I like to describe it. Shane Vereen is the change of pace back (although I think he is more than a cop guy. Look at how they split him all over the field some games last season – I think we will see an awful lot of that this year), the “baller” if I am to continue my colloquialisms. LeGarret Blount is most likely the goal line guy – the “banger.” And then there is Leon Washington, who will probably just be the returner this season.
The popular consensus is that because the Pats have such a crowded backfield they will grind out more games than in previous seasons. I don’t know if I believe that. I think they will continue with a similar offense to the couple of past years but will have better success with their running plays because of the experience on the offensive line and running back position.
Fullbacks: Does anyone really care? Are James Devlin and Ben Bartholomew going to have a substantial impact this season? The odds are no. Next.
Wide Receivers: For the first time this season I took a long, hard look at the depth chart and, well, it’s uninspiring. There is Michael Vick’s failed number one receiver (Mike Jenkins), the fragile Danny Ammendola and the even more fragile Julian Edelman. Then there are the rookies, Dobson and Boyce. And all of that is in addition to the special teamers Slater, Aiken and Hawkins.
Best case scenario would be Dobson and Boyce turn out to be superstars, Danny A becomes Welker in the slot and Edelman and Jenkins make up the difference. Odds of that happening? Probably kind of low, right?
A step down from that would be one of the rookies breaks out, Danny A works it in the slot, and we get production from Edelman and Jenks that is at the least, serviceable.
Worst case scenario? We get some sort of pre-2007 production from the receiving corps in which one dude puts up Troy Brown numbers simply because he is getting the ball thrown to him so often.
In reality the receiver production should be viewed on some sort of spectrum rather than a list. I don’t think there is an absolute bad or an absolute good, but varying degrees of each.
Tight Ends: Who would have ever thought the Tight End position would be one of the things in question coming into this season after the end of last year. I mean, we all new Gronk was going to have to go through some sort of rehab/bionic surgery so this shit stops happening. But no one saw Hernandez coming. And then Gronks’ injury backsliding like it did. All of it has kind of left the position in a state of limbo.
The ESPN depth chart has Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanaawanui as the players behind Gronk. Then there is Zach Sudfeld, who has been dominating in camp. I think the production can still be there – Ballard and Fells were good players for the Giants and the Broncos, respectively – so there is potential that the position can have at least a portion of the production they did last year.
Offensive Line: Are many people worried about the line? I think they got it, right? No one is hurt right now and they have decent depth. Currently the line is Soldier at left tackle, Mankins at left guard, the center is Wendell, Connolley is at right guard and Vollmer is the right tackle. I think they are good.