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Thread: Previewing the AFC East: The New England Patriots

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    Previewing the AFC East: The New England Patriots

    Jets will be up tomorrow or Tuesday evening...
    [COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]
    [B][SIZE=4] New England Patriots[/SIZE][/B][/COLOR]

    The Patriot dynasty began with Tom Brady and will end when Tom Brady goes elsewhere. Until that time the Patriots will always be considered Super Bowl contenders. At worst he is the second best quarterback in the NFL and he does a better job of spreading the ball around than anyone in the NFL. He has tremendous pocket presence, but if there is one weakness in his game its that he can get rattled if teams put a lot of pressure on him and make him force the issue. Denver, San Diego, and Miami have all had luck doing that, but nobody else in the NFL has. The teams backup is Matt Cassell and you hope he never sees the field for anything more than mop up duty. Matt Gutierrez played well enough in the preseason to force the release of Vinny Testeverde and could move up the depth chart as the year goes onward.

    Laurence Maroney showed much promise as a rookie in 2006. Hes explosive with the ball and very talented. He replaced Corey Dillon last season in all but goal line situations and is probably better than anyone Brady has ever had to work with. Injuries and durability are a concern with him and may keep him from reaching the upper level of the NFL at his position. With that in mind both Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk will get their share of work. Morris should be used in short yardage and goal line plays. He has good size and can ram it up the gut of a defense. Kevin Faulk is a 3rd down type back who has been an unheralded contributor to New Englands run on top. He is a big asset at picking up the blitz and can make guys miss if you get him the ball in the open field, which NE loves to do spreading out the field and letting Faulk get lost in the shuffle.

    The major overhaul for the Patriots was revamping their wide receiving corps during the offseason. Reche Caldwell sealed his fate as a starter when he started dropping balls in the AFC Championship game and forced the Patriots to aggressively recruit this position. The most widely talked about pickup was the trade for star WR Randy Moss. It was a low risk, high reward type move. Moss has been a cancer in the locker room and has days where he just doesn’t feel like playing. He no longer can play 16 games, and has missed all of the preseason, but he still is a physical threat that few can match up with when he is on his game and he should be ready to play the opener. Even if you just get Moss for a big play here and there that is all the team needs to keep defenses honest. They don’t need him to haul in 10 receptions a game. Dante Stallworth was signed from Philadelphia and gives the team another threat to stretch the field. Stallworth is injury prone and has never lived up to his potential to be a number one WR, but that is not what he will be asked to be as a Patriot. If you hit him in stride and he catches the ball he is explosive with it. He should have his best season as a pro in New England. Wes Welker was the final piece to the puzzle. Welker has great hands and should be a wonderful slot receiver. With Moss and Stallworth drawing the safeties and coverage deep, Welker should benefit from a wide open middle of the field where he has only one linebacker to beat. Hes going to get a ton of balls thrown his way and he should be very productive once he gets the balls in his hands. TE Ben Watson rounds out the pass catching parts of the team. Watson is an extremely tough matchup for any team. He has a big frame, good hands, and can stretch the field. He will see a lot more open opportunities in this passing offense.

    New England’s offensive line is a good unit. Their interior of Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, and Stephen Neal is very good. They are good at pass protection and in the run game, being able to take on bigger defenders at the point of attack and also being quick enough to get out and pull on a sweep or block for a screen. You wont see these guys make any mental mistakes where they blow an assignment. Matt Light is an average left tackle. Hes not great against speed rushers and has been helped by Tom Brady’s quick release. If Brady takes deeper drops, Lights problems could be much more noticeable. Ryan O’Callaghan, who is a second year mauler, should start at right tackle by seasons end. He’s better than Nick Kaczur who started last season.

    The Patriots look to have an explosive offense, where a team is going to have to pick their poison and try to stop one facet of the game. The one negative is that there are questions about Maroney’s, Moss’, and Stallworth’s durability and if they all were to miss time it could hurt the team, particularly at the WR spot. While Brady can certainly cope with inferior talent the last thing the Pats front office wants to see is Wes Welker and Reche Caldwell or Jabar Gaffney lining up as the top 2 Wrs, with Kevin Faulk having to play every down. But if that doesn’t happen there is no reason to think that New England wont be one of the top 3 or 4 offenses in the NFL, and the only good team with legitimate potential to score really quickly late in games that they look like they are about to lose.

    For years the Patriot defense has been the steady rock of the dynasty, but that has gone downward the last few seasons. The linebackers, which were the group that made the impact plays, have gotten older and either moved on to new locations or have not been as effective. Peyton Manning shredded the defense apart in the AFC Championship in an embarrassing manor as their Lbs just did not have enough speed to cover the field. The big prize acquisition was Adalius Thomas from Baltimore. Hes an aggressive LB that can attack the QB and make plays all over the field. He is the athlete the group has been missing. Still questions reside with the linebackers. Tedy Bruschi is extremely smart and plays with passion not often seen in todays players, but he has been in the league over 10 years and sometimes the body just cant respond quick enough. Mike Vrabel, who will get to play ILB this season, is in the same situation. Roosevelt Colvin, who led the team with 8.5 sacks in 2006, should benefit from Thomas’ presence and have a big season. Still it’s an older unit and if guys get injured there is nobody to really fill in for them.

    The Pats defensive line is among the best in the NFL when healthy. They have some depth and they have the flexibility to play in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme on any given down. All 330 pounds of Vince Wilfork anchors the middle. He takes up two guys at a time, clogs the middle, and keeps his linebackers free to make plays. Hes one of the few true 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL. Ty Warren is extremely underrated and often overlooked. He was the best defensive player on the Patriots last season. Hes an excellent defender against the run and if you don’t double him he will get to the quarterback. Rounding out the trio is Richard Seymour, who has been one of the best DEs in the NFL since his rookie season. Seymour is very active on the line and can take up as many as three opposing players on a single play. Even if the statistics are not there hes creating the plays that the guys behind him make. Whether its allowing them an open lane to rush the QB or forcing a RB into them by cutting off his angle, Seymour is an impact player. Seymour will miss at least 6 games this season. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list and it’s a question as to how much he will contribute this year. The team is prepared for his loss, but it limit’s the confusion the defense creates. If they want to run a 4-3 front they have the personnel to do so, but with Seymour missing significant time they can not play the 3-4 nearly as well. Jarvis Green will be filling in and is a good pass rusher with a good motor. He cant command the double and triple teams Seymour does, but you can not ignore him when he is on the field. Mike Wright will see his fare of snaps as well, but he has zero potential as a starter. LeKevin Smith and Kareem Brown have had good enough camps to earn playing time.

    Star CB Asante Samuel finally returned to camp just in time to get in shape for the season. He’s one of the best in the NFL and had 10 interceptions last season. He allows Ellis Hobbs to remain at the number 2 position and continue his development. Hobbs plays tough , but is obviously much better as the number 2 corner. Rodney Harrison still hits hard and takes a few cheap shots, but he is near the end of his career and cant stay healthy. It would be a surprise if he didn’t land on the injured list at some point this season and he just got busted for steroids. He will miss the first four games of the season. James Sanders will fill in for Harrison and the team is used to him playing there and thinks highly of him. They should not miss a beat. Eugene Wilson is a decent safety, but is coming off of injury. The Pats used their first round pick on safety Brandon Meriweather who is fast and brings athletic skills to the table, which is something the Patriots have lacked. Whether he plays safety or corner is something that will be determined later on, but the staff has been working him as a nickleback. Willie Andrews will also fill in for Wilson. New England always seems to get by in the secondary so even if the depth doesn’t look to be great its hard to imagine the team having issues when they bring in the Randall Gays and Tory James’ of the world.

    The defense has always been excellent at limiting the opposing team to field goals and tricking them into turnovers. They should be no worse than 2nd in the NFL in points allowed and 5th in yards allowed even with the injuries. The teams defensive schemes can hide weak spots for short periods of time until the starters get healthy. They are going to pressure the QB all game and force them into mistakes at the most inopportune times, and everyone on the NE defense- from the defensive linemen to the linebackers to the safeties- are all taught to catch the ball if it hits them in the hands. Teams are going to try to target Vrabel and Bruschi and force them into coverage, but outside of age and durability there is no real glaring weakness on defense.

    The special teams unit is strong. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski has a big leg and looks to be safe as their kicker of the future. Maroney and Hobbs were as good as any kickoff return tandem in the NFL, though its unlikely Maroney will see much action with his increased offensive responsibilities. Faulk will be a decent replacement. Welker is a pretty good punt returner and upgrades the position. As has been the case for a few seasons now, The Patriots are constantly trying to find a punter. Odds are that their current starter, Chris Hanson, wil not be their punter at the end of the year. Dirk Johnson formerly of the Eagles could be a possibility.

    Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL. He does a tremendous job scheming against the opposition and exploiting weaknesses. This is probably the most star laden and talented team that he has ever coached. The playoffs are, at this point, a given for the franchise. The only team that can dominate as much as New England on both sides of the ball in the NFL is the San Diego Chargers. Health is a concern for New England. They have some age on defense, and Moss, Stallworth, Maroney, Seymour, Harrison, and Wilson are all going to be a concern for 16 games. Certain players will take sometime to get acclimated to the system and it may take a few weeks to get everyone on the same page since the preseason has been somewhat of a washout for some of the newer faces. But at the end of the day the Pats should easily win the AFC East. The schedule is not hard difficult matching up with the AFC North, who New England historically beats up on, and the NFC East. The team avoids any trips out west where they have problems and they get to close out the season with three of their last four games up in Foxboro. Its Super Bowl or bust for this team in 2007. They are one of the 3 elite teams that is favored to get to the title game. If they don’t it will probably be a major disappointment for everyone who follows the team.

    [B]Will Make the Playoffs if: [/B] Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork stay healthy for 15 games.
    [B]Will Miss the Playoffs if:[/B] Tom Brady gets injured.

    [B]Easiest Stretch of the season: [/B]Weeks 14-17: PIT, NYJ, MIA, @Nyg- One of the prime reasons New England has always been so successful in the playoffs is because they typicaly play their best football at the end of the season. Since 2001 the Patriot are an incredible 20-4 in the last 4 games of the season. In that same time they are 11-2 at home, with one of those losses being a throwaway game in week 17. The only season where they finished worse than 3-1 to end the year was 2002, coincidentally the only season they did not win the AFC East. The Patriots have dominated the AFC North in recent memory compiling a 7-1 record in their last 8 games and have yet to lose at home. The can deal with the physical brand of football the Steelers typically represent and they frustrate the aggressive defensive attacks with quick strikes. The Jets broke through in Foxboro last season, but that was the first time the Jets have beaten the Patriots since 2002. New York is 3-3 in New England since 2001 and if there is a game the Pats could lose this is the one. Miami plays New England very tough, but rarely win away from Miami. New England is 5-1 against them at home, with the only loss coming in week 17 as they started their reserves. The Patriots are 17-3 in their last 20 against the NFC, which wont bode well for the Giants. At worst New England will go 3-1 and there is an excellent chance they go into the playoffs on a big win streak.

    [B]Toughest Stretch of the Season: [/B] Weeks 6-9: @Dal, @Mia, WAS, @Indy- If the Patriots are going to have problems, typically its on the road where they have won slightly under 70% of their games compared to over 80% of their games in Foxboro. This is a hard stretch for the team. New England dominates the NFC, but if they were to lose a game its going to be against the Cowboys who can stretch them deep and attack the QB, with a similar scheme to what San Diego has used to beat up Brady. Miami is a handful for the Pats when they meet in Miami. Miami has a 4-2 record against New England when they meet in Miami, the only AFC East team to have a winning record on any field against New England. Jason Taylor and company always frustrate them no matter how bad the Dolphins are. Other than maybe being overlooked the Redskins look to be a pushover. If the Patriots lose to Miami, the Redskins have no chance at the upset. The Colts are the biggest rival New England has had and have overtaken them in the last two seasons. The Patriot defense no longer matches up as well against them. New England will probably come out of this 2-2, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see a 1-3 run where every media outlet starts “whats wrong with New England” headlines.

    [SIZE=5][B]Predicted Record: 12-4 1st AFC East[/B][/SIZE]

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    [QUOTE=Jason423]

    [B]Easiest Stretch of the season: [/B]Weeks 14-17: PIT, [B]NYJ[/B], MIA, @Nyg[/QUOTE]

    They forgot to mention week 1 as well.

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    [QUOTE=PatsFanTX]They forgot to mention week 1 as well.[/QUOTE]


    Very Fuuny PatsfanTx. :D

    Frank

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    [QUOTE=Jason423]Jets will be up tomorrow or Tuesday evening...
    [COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]
    [B][SIZE=4] New England Patriots[/SIZE][/B][/COLOR]

    The Patriot dynasty began with Tom Brady and will end when Tom Brady goes elsewhere. Until that time the Patriots will always be considered Super Bowl contenders.[/QUOTE]

    Until NE replicates a defense that could make all the pivotal stops, they'll continue to fall short, and shouldn't have even made it to the AFC champ last year.

    NE began with the defense, Brady managed the game and later emerged as the D fell off their once historic pace/level. And you can show all the D rankings in the world for the reg season, the past 2 years what good are they when you can't get the stops needed in the playoffs??

    I agree they'll be in it, but to think he'll do it w/o that defensive edge is silly.

    Since 04 it's proven. When you have to play from a weakness, it's alot different than having a D that makes all the critical stops, when you need them, because it's the ultimate team game. That doesn't take away from Tom, but it does limit the expectations of what he can do w/o that D.

    Hence Champ Bailey, and the AFC meltdown last year, preceded by what should have been a game ending pick by Bradyboy in the divisional at SD.
    Last edited by JOHNNY JOHNSON; 09-02-2007 at 05:37 PM.

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    Good breakdown Jason. Thanks for taking the time to do it. Look forward to the rest of your analysis.

    I do think you're missing the value of Matt Casell though. He looked much better this year in the preseason. Most pats fans (delusional, I know), feel that, with this roster, he could get the team to the playoffs, much as Brady did with a much weaker roster, on both sides of the ball, in 2001.

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    [QUOTE=JOHNNY JOHNSON]Until NE replicates a defense that could make all the pivotal stops, they'll continue to fall short.

    [/QUOTE]

    Yea, that 2nd ranked defense in the NFL really sucks.

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    [QUOTE=PatsFanTX]Yea, that 2nd ranked defense in the NFL really sucks.[/QUOTE]


    Sir, with all due respect, aren't you at least alittle wee bit nervous about the overall team speed of your defense, especially your Lb's corps. Just a thought. That may be an issue that hurts your organization's efforts to win a 4th SB.
    Just some thoughts.

    Frank

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    [QUOTE=PatsFanTX]Yea, that 2nd ranked defense in the NFL really sucks.[/QUOTE]
    [B]And you can show all the D rankings in the world for the reg season, the past 2 years what good are they when you can't get the stops needed in the playoffs[/B]??

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    [QUOTE=JOHNNY JOHNSON][B]And you can show all the D rankings in the world for the reg season, the past 2 years what good are they when you can't get the stops needed in the playoffs[/B]??[/QUOTE]

    What do Jets fans know about the playoffs?

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    [QUOTE=JOHNNY JOHNSON]Until NE replicates a defense that could make all the pivotal stops, they'll continue to fall short.

    NE began with the defense, Brady managed the game and later emerged as the D fell off their once historic pace/level.

    I agree they'll be in it, but to think he'll do it w/o that defensive edge is silly.

    Since 04 it's proven. When you have to play from a weakness, it's alot different than having a D that makes all the critical stops, when you need them because it's the ultimate team game. That doesn't take away from Tom, but it does limit the expectations of what he can do w/o that D.

    Hence Champ Bailey, and the AFC meltdown last year, preceded by what should have been a game ending pick by Bradyboy in the divisional at SD.[/QUOTE]

    JJ, all I can say is, wait until you see this defense next week, sans Seymour, Harrision, & maybe Samuel. This is the best defense they've had yet, even with the age at LB and the 'weakness' in the secondary.

    Don't lose it as I expect many fans will, just because Penny can't move the ball, or because Jones can't find any holes. I expect many teams to have the same problems. People said the same thing about their DL in 2001, and their secondary in '03 & '04.

    It'll take teams like SD, Indy, & the Bengals, with amazing offenses and a variety of weapons, to make this d look as old as its calendar age. I honestly don't believe the Jets or many other teams have that ability.

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    [QUOTE=Tailgater] I honestly don't believe the Jets or many other teams have that ability.[/QUOTE]

    The Jets offense would make a Pop Warner defense look good.

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    [QUOTE=PatsFanTX]Yea, that 2nd ranked defense in the NFL really sucks.[/QUOTE]
    Here's the whole thing for you again, but read slowly, so i don't have to repeat it to no end.........and suck on it. That way you know how the truth tastes. JK :yes:

    Until NE replicates a defense that could make all the pivotal stops, they'll continue to fall short, and shouldn't have even made it to the AFC champ last year.

    NE began with the defense, Brady managed the game and later emerged as the D fell off their once historic pace/level. [B]And you can show all the D rankings in the world for the reg season, the past 2 years what good are they when you can't get the stops needed in the playoffs[/B]??

    I agree they'll be in it, but to think he'll do it w/o that defensive edge is silly.

    Since 04 it's proven. When you have to play from a weakness, it's alot different than having a D that makes all the critical stops, when you need them, because it's the ultimate team game. That doesn't take away from Tom, but it does limit the expectations of what he can do w/o that D.

    [B]Hence Champ Bailey, and the AFC meltdown last year, preceded by what should have been a game ending pick by Bradyboy in the divisional at SD[/B].

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    [QUOTE=PatsFanTX]The Jets offense would make a Pop Warner defense look good.[/QUOTE]


    tex, that was quite funny. :D

    F

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    [QUOTE=FrankMoga]tex, that was quite funny. :D

    F[/QUOTE]

    I like the old Moga better. :yes:

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    [QUOTE=JOHNNY JOHNSON]

    Until NE replicates a defense that could make all the pivotal stops, they'll continue to fall short, and shouldn't have even made it to the AFC champ last year.

    [/QUOTE]

    So failing to stop the best QB in the NFL on one drive translates into a problem?

    Got it.

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    [QUOTE=Tailgater]JJ, all I can say is, wait until you see this defense next week, sans Seymour, Harrision, & maybe Samuel. This is the best defense they've had yet, even with the age at LB and the 'weakness' in the secondary.

    Don't lose it as I expect many fans will, just because Penny can't move the ball, or because Jones can't find any holes. I expect many teams to have the same problems. People said the same thing about their DL in 2001, and their secondary in '03 & '04.

    It'll take teams like SD, Indy, & the Bengals, with amazing offenses and a variety of weapons, to make this d look as old as its calendar age. I honestly don't believe the Jets or many other teams have that ability.[/QUOTE]

    Do you have the lottery numbers as well by any chance.

    And Right.......their best defense that hasn't played a down yet...........

    Better than their SB teams for sure, just my prediction.

    "All i can say is wait until you see it" - you should have stopped there. ;)

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JOHNNY JOHNSON
    [B]And you can show all the D rankings in the world for the reg season, the past 2 years what good are they when you can't get the stops needed in the playoffs[/B]??

    [QUOTE=PatsFanTX]What do Jets fans know about the playoffs?[/QUOTE]

    Funny, but that doesn't counter my point. ;)

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    [QUOTE=JOHNNY JOHNSON]Do you have the lottery numbers as well by any chance.

    And Right.......their best defense that hasn't played a down yet...........

    Better than their SB teams for sure, just my prediction.

    "All i can say is wait until you see it" - you should have stopped there. ;)[/QUOTE]

    I see many posts predicting the pats defensive demise, all without playing one snap in the regular season.

    My opinion is based on watching them at practice and in the preseason, and comparing them to past years in that same time period. I could care less about the hype from others. Could I be wrong? Yup. Could you? Yup. :yes:

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    [QUOTE=PatsFanTX]So failing to stop the best QB in the NFL on one drive translates into a problem?

    Got it.[/QUOTE]
    Spin away spin doctor, but you know as well as I.........................

    Wait a second.... One drive?? NE D has been a shell of itself in the [B]playoffs[/B] the last 2 years.

    What do you have to say to that, my friend. :eek:

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    [QUOTE=PatsFanTX]They forgot to mention week 1 as well.[/QUOTE]
    FWIW, if I were a betting man Id be putting my money on NE, but Jets and Bengals on the road, plus San Diego at home should give NE much more chances to lose than that stretch at the end of the season. Plus if you want to catch the Pats usually you want to catch them early. Id be surprised if New England went 4-0 weeks 1-4. Id be pretty surprised if they didnt weeks 14-17, unless they just take week 17 off.

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