2016 Season Previews: New England Patriots

We finally have an answer to Deflategate. Holy Cripe did this thing drag out. You know what this really reminds me of? Some Rich dude getting busted with a crime- like a DWI. You throw lawyer after lawyer and paperwork after paperwork at it, and hope the Powers that Be just let it go. The problem is, the courts have all the money, and all the time in the world, and we the people gave them that. Brady may or may not be guilty, I don’t care at this time to be honest, but the NFLPA gave them the power, and now the big pretty QB face wants to complain about it. I want to be the NFL’s lawyer (for a nominal fee, of course) I would just show up, throw the NFLPA agreement on the bench and say- hey, show me where we can’t do this. And wait.
I’ll get into what this does to the Pats record later.

QuarterbacksTom Brady

Tom Brady, Ya’ll. He’s 38, went for 38TDs and only 7 picks. 4770 yards and the third most attempts of his carrer. Yeah, I feel for the Browns in Week 5 when Brady comes back. Second greatest QB in the Super Bowl Era, and a chip on his shoulder. Good Luck NFL. The top backup is Jimmy Garoppolo. First problem is name me the great QB with the name Jimmy. No one is ever called Stone Cold Jimmy or Big Game Jimmy. I wouldn’t be overly stressed about about this, considering how well the Pats did the last time Brady was gone for a year, and this is only 4 games. Holding the clipboard for Jimmy is Jacoby Brissett, whom I saw at NC State, who is in the Big Ben mold, not exactly an accurate, Brady-type passer.

Running Backs

Who cares right? The Pats got 87 yards a game out of the running game, and if you watched the playoff games, you saw almost no effort to do anything other than lean on Brady’s arm. This is the primary reason why the Pats fell off later in the year, going 2-4 after Thanksgiving and 1-1 in the playoffs. Part of this is just horrible luck, with Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount going down to injury. Both are back, and the Pats brought in Donald Brown, who had one more TD than I did last year, my problem here is the Pats have all these draft picks, and couldn’t drop a few on a back last year, and didn’t spend any this year for a back to lean on. The Patriots took a third string QB in the third round, but not a single running back?

Wide Receiversgronkowski

Julian Edelman is the top target, and was on pace for a great year with almost 700 catches and 7 TDs before breaking his foot in week 9 (again, 2-4 after that). If he’s back, and no reason why he shouldn’t be, he should get close to 100 catches and 60 first downs. Chris Hogan comes over from the Bills, and this could be a game changer. Danny Amendola is still there, and Chris Hogan should limit his plays and make him more dangerous. Speaking of dangerous, Ron Gronkowski is still the most dangerous weapon in the NFL that doesn’t line up behind the center, and this year he gets a sidekick in Martellus Bennett. The last time the Bears let a Tight End go, he went to Carolina and became the second best tight end in football. If you can get 90 catches and 900 years from Jay Cutler, what can Tom Brady do for you? This offense is a Madden Game come to life, and going with Edelman/Bennett/Gronk/Amendola/Hogan on 3rd and 10 is not going to make any defensive coordinator get any rest.

Offensive Line

As much as the running game is a problem, this line was the worst group for the Patriots last year, Nate Solder is back, and that makes this line a lot better, even though Solder is an average tackle after getting a fairly big contract, hopefully his time on the injury list will bring him back motivated.  and Sebastian Vollmer to go back where his effective on the right side. Now that the outside is fixed, the attention can go back to trying to get something right in the inside. Jonathan Cooper comes over from the Cardinals and is expected to play somewhere, Shaq Mason was a surprise last year and should get a long look, with third rounder Joe Thuney in the mix as well.

Defense

9th in yards allowed, 10th in points allowed, and this is again without a running game to give them a rest. This is why the Hoodie is best in the game today. The fun thing about the Pats defense is they can play nickel, 3-4,4-3 and not lose much as far as speed or coverage. Just an amazing group with a stunning Linebacker core. I would expect to see a lot less 4-3 this year with the Pats dropping Dominique Easley and Akeem Hicks unless Terrance Knighton can do something.

Defensive LineChris Long

The Pats traded off Chandler Jones, so replacing him is not going to be fun, Jabaal Sheard should improve with the additional playing time.  Rob Ninkovich is a solid run stopper but doesn’t get near the QB very often, but when he does the QB goes down. The middle is where the power is, Alan Branch who is one of the better run stoppers in the game. Branch should be surrounded by new faces, and I think Terrance Knighton could be the best of the new bodies the Pats brought in. Vincent Valentine should see a lot of playing time as well, and this group should be just fine. Chris Long is a former second overall pick, and is just the type of player that the Hoodie sends to Hawaii. Effort is not the problem, injuries have been the problem.

Linebackers

Jerod Mayo wont be missed, with Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower both being just amazing linebackers. Shea McClelin comes over from the Bears to chase success, and could slide into a starting role should the need arise. The third leg of this group is Jonathan Freeny, who was solid, but not spectacular. Depth is a problem, especially behind Freeny.

Secondarysb49-malcolm-butler-int-ji-1

Super Bowl Hero Malcom Bulter didn’t suffer a slump, coming back out strong as a number one corner. Over on the other side, Logan Ryan got 4 picks and became a full time starter. The last line of defense is Patrick Chung and Devin McCourtney, both have been there for a long time and are a solid duo. The Patriots are blessed with some depth at this position as Duron Harmon is a starting safty in the making, and had 3 picks last year. Second round pick Cyrus Jones should start the season at nickel and wait his turn to start. The rest of the bench are special teamers all blessed with speed.

Special Teams

K- Stephen Gostkowski is one of the better kickers in the NFL, playoff XP notwithstanding, and that was Gostkowski’s only miss from inside 40 yards all season
P- Ryan Allen is a fellow Techster, and is also amoung the best at dropping punts inside the 20.

DraftBrady&Hoodie

Cyrus Jones is going to add some serious depth to a position of strength on that defense, but I have no idea why without a first round pick, you burn a third on a QB. True the Pats may turn him into a second rounder in a few years, but a MLB or a RB would have been a much better use a red chip Pick. The odd thing is the number of picks with injury histories: Jones, Malcom Mitchell, Karras, Lucien. I think the best pick might have been Thuney and Valentine as they can sit and learn and get in the rotation. Lot of Special Teamers in this draft, as they have 4 speed guys late.

Final

Ok, Lets get into this tale of two seasons. I have to give them a loss to the Cardinals and I’m going to ding them against the Texans too, and I have them dropping a game vs Miami. That doesn’t mean they start 1-3, because Miami has a good record against Brady too. So 2-2 to start. They do go 5-1 vs the division. The NFC West gives them a 3-1, since they get Seattle at home in November. The AFC North is a 4-0 as they get Baltimore and Cincy at home and I’m not as sold on Pittsburgh as everyone else. Bonus games vs Houston I already said is a loss, and they play at Denver, so a split there. I’ll go with a 13-3 as Brady is going to be pissed and waiting on the playoffs. I feel for the Colts if they see them in the playoffs. Brady might drop 50 on the Browns week 5, don’t rule that out.

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