By Petzi Poyau
This 2013-2014 offseason has been filled with a lot of big news from free agent signings such as Mike Wallace and Wes Walker, to other news such as Hernandez being tried for murder. In an ever changing NFL no team can say they have had a worse offseason this year than the New England Patriots. With Wes Welker leaving to join Brady’s archrival Peyton Manning, Gronk’s back injuries which may leave him sidelined well into the season, and Hernandez being released from the team, there are certainly plenty of reasons to be concerned for the Patriots. With the Patriots being known for their high scoring offense many have wondered how will the Patriots weather this storm, especially with teams such as the 49ers, Seahawks, and Broncos who seem as if they will only get stronger after their impressive showing last season.
As bleak as the situation may seem there is a glimmer of hope for Pats fan to hold on, aside from the future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady. With the signing of both Arrington and Talib, and also McCourty’s permanent placement in the safety position alongside Adrian Wilson, this season may have the Pats setting the NFL world on fire with their defense. With the Patriots showing a remarkable change after Talib’s addition, keeping passing yards per game under 300 (about 57 yards less per game) and having 37 sacks for the year.
What makes this year the defense’s year to shine is that this is the first time in seven years where the defense has largely remained the same. This means coaching staff knows who they have and what they are capable of and can now focus on defensive schemes to stop some of the deep pass plays that Pat fans have become too accustomed to. Plus with Talib, Ros-I Dowling, (provided he stays healthy) and possibly Alfonzo Dennard pending legal action in the backfield the Patriots can now focus on the pass rush. With Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones showing great promise to rise to the occasion alongside with veteran Vince Wilfork, this year may show the Patriots blitzing more and being more aggressive on the line.
This improvement on defensive is greatly needed not only for Belichick’s legacy as a defensive coaching genius but it is also important to the Patriots quest to win another Superbowl for the Hall Of Fame Duo. We have seen Patriots fail to have post-season success when the offense stalls out and the defense simply cannot hold on. Plus with some other NFL teams becoming offensive juggernauts like the Broncos, Texas, and the threat of newcomers such as Andrew Luck, and Mike Wallace with the Dolphins the defense will have its work cut out for it.
Outside of the defense the Patriots offense also has room to shock people. Many have showed their concern for the Patriots having lost 4 out of the top 5 receivers the Patriots had last season. However, the Patriots offense is at best an unknown. With Ridley, Vereen, and Blount the Patriots have a rare opportunity to develop a run game to complement Brady. Considering this season the Patriots have plenty of new receivers to break in any help he can get is appreciated. With Danny Amendola who, when healthy, has shown he can not only make the receptions when they count but he can also make plays afterwards. Alongside Amendola will be many candidates but the likely ones are Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, both who are NFL rookies and have yet to show what they are capable of. The Patriots have had a season with unknown receivers in 2006 and Tom Brady was able to take them to the AFC Championship. That is not to say that Brady will carry the team by himself to another AFC Championship this year, but with the improvement on the defensive side and a new offensive plan the Patriots will do what they do best, and win.
Stats provided by Pro-Football Reference