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No team in NFL history has compiled success in back to back decades, but thats about to change. The New ENgland Patriots, led by BB and Tom Brady once again are loaded in the talent pool, and have all the pieces in place to make another run at the superbowl for years to come. The reasonings for this is mostly through the NFL draft. BB has made some questionable picks the last couple years, but he has found some stars in the rough. Lets look more in depth in some areas that will help the Pats redefine the organization.
1. The Tight End Connect:
No other team in the league can match the Patriots at the tight end position. The have Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Daniel Fells. "Gronk" compiled one of the most successful seasons not only as a tight end, but as a pass catcher. His 17 touchdowns was untouchable, and his physical assests are hard to cover. He has a big frame that helps him bring in balls thrown his way, and protects him from big hits. If you need a example, just watch the highlights from the Redskin or Jet games. Don`t forget about his complement Aaron Hernandez, who also had a big season. He had 910 yards, and caught 7 td`s. They are a combination that includes big size, and speed that leaves safeties and linebackers shaking their heads to cover. And did I mention Daniel Fells, who started in Denver as their featured tight end. Fells signed a three year deal to be a third tigh end in New England. That says he took less money and less of a role to go to a to organization for a chance to play in the postseason. What was key this offseason was the Pats locking up Gronkowski with a 6 year, 54 million dollar contract. Tom Brady just got his favorite target signed until he retires, and I believe Aaron Hernandez will get a extension sometime this year. I can see the Patriots letting Welker go after this year, going with more tight end sets.
2. Getting Defensive:
The Patriots were down right ugly last season against the pass, partially with a limited offseason because labor talks. Regardless, the secondary was getting torched through the air it seemed on a weekly basis. Given this, I think their defense is about to come together and b a force in the league. They have a full offseason to come together as a unit, and determine the play packages more rather then switching as much as they did. I believe they have the personnel to match either a 3-4 or 4-3 base scheme. The key component of the defense will be the front seven, which I believe is very athletic and strong. The additions of Jonathan Fannene will help the line create some more pressure in passing downs. I think Chandler Jones will emerge on the scene at defensive end, and become their man pass rusher with Rob Ninkovich. To top that off, Donta Hightower is a versitile linebacker who can play defensive end, inside/outside linebacker. He was used all over the place at Alabama, and will be a valuable asset when the Pats rotate the 3-4 and 4-3. The linebacking core is led by Jerod Mayo, who likely will line up as a outside backer now. But pairing Brandon Spikes and Hightower inside seems like a power house against the run in the middle. You add Mayo and Ninkovich(or Jones in 3-4) outside and you have a very young and strong linebacker core.
Overall, the defense will have only 1 starter, being Wilfork at the north of 30 mark. Every other player is south of it, most still youngsters. Thos eunder the age of 26 include; Jerod Mayo, Kyle Love, Patrick Chung, Kyle Arrington, Brandon Spikes, Brandon Deaderick, Donta Hightower, and Chandler Jones. At least five will be starters, depending on the defense. The Pats use a hybrid 3-4/4-3 so in many cases all of these kids will see plenty of time. It`s alot of youth, but we have seen Mayo lead the league in tackles one year, McCourty grab 7 INT`s, and Spikes has closed up the middle runnnig games. If all of these players gel in camp this season and next, I think you could see 4-5 pro bowl players, and a defensive in the top 10.
Its no doubt BB and Robert Kraft have turned aroung the New England Patriot organization apon their arrival. Kraft has not only made a great team, but was the biggest difference maker in labor talks last year. BB has a very interesting coaching style, he goes for it when most would punt, and he will run the score up if the other team quits. Regardless of what people think, this guy has nailed down how to run this team. The Patriots didn`t have a strong core of players in the first Superbowl win, but they played how they were coached. I think the big thing here is can BB develop all these youngsters on the defensive side of the ball. Since Mike Vrabel, and Tedy Bruschi, the Pats haven`t had a leader on defense. The emergences of Vince Wilfork the last couple years has helped. But they need Jerod Mayo to help as well, and other kids to play to that level. Another area to watch is the offensive lineman and how they adjust. Dante Scarnecchia is considered one of the best out there, and he has some work to do. Logan Mankins is coming off knee surgery, and Matt Light retired. They still are waiting on Brian Waters, and Sebastian Vollmer has been banged around. In my opinion, I think the Pats are ok, with the depth of Robert Gallery who can play guard or tackle. They also have both Dan Koppen and Dan Connely back after signing them. Both can play center and guard. Nate Solder will replace Matt Light, and he showed how physical he can be last year when playing for Vollmer. Marcus Cannon was a steal a couple years back when the Pats got him in 5th round, because of health issues. He can also play guard and tackle, and has a very big frame. After that the Pats hav a mixed bag, with Donald Thomas, Ryan Weendell and Matt Kopa. All who have had playing time, and shown flashes of starting ability. With work they definately can be great depth help, and start if need be. I think Scarnecchia can develop these players more, and help add needed depth behind a great front line.
Overall, I believe the Patriots can make at least 3 Superbowl apperences by the year 2020. As long as they keep a majority of the core players together, they should see significant growth. Gronkowski is just one example, and they locked him up long term. If the Patriots can extend one key player each offseason, then the adding of role players will help mold around their youth. It will be interesting to see the draft approach they use in the near future, given the amount of young blood of this team. I can say, they will continue to target the defensive, and also the offesive line.
I was given permission to post this by my boyfriend as a way to get people interest and a fan base