According to a wishful Colts' fan, they are. Here's an article from Brad Wells of Stampede Blue. My comments have been inclued therein, in bold black:
The New England Patriots Are In Deep Trouble In 2013
By Brad Wells
The New England Patriots have lost over 90% of their receiving production from last season.
For the first time since 2002, the New England Patriots are not listed as a regular season opponent for the Indianapolis Colts. However, just because the Pats aren't on the docket doesn't mean the gutting of their roster this offseason won't affect the Colts and the rest of the AFC.
To put it bluntly, the Patriots are toast.
RESPONSE: We shall see.
Yes, yes, yes. I know Tom Brady is still the quarterback and I know Bill Belichick is still skulking the sidelines. As long as those two are there, the Patriots are playoff contenders.
RESPONSE: Okay...then why are you saying that the Patriots are toast??
By "toast" I mean their chances of seriously contending in the AFC. You have to be a homer of the highest degree of blissful ignorance if you truly think that the loses this team has suffered this offseason, particularly on offense, won't affect their win-loss column.
RESPONSE: To quote "The Miz"...Really? Really? Really? Really???
Let's do a recap of the damage, shall we?
- Owner Bob Kraft got cheap and decided to play hardball with the greatest receiver in franchise history, Wes Welker. Welker bolted and signed with AFC rival Denver (and Peyton Manning).
RESPONSE: Obviously, this guy is ignorant of the way the Patriots rate veterans, manage the salary cap, and their personnel philosophy. BB has always held that it's better to release a good veteran player a year early, than to keep him a year too long. In Danny Armendola, the Pats saw a guy who is five (5) years younger than Wes, with similar physical capabilities. The decision to let Wes go had little to do with money, and more to do with his age, and the chance for the team to gain a younger, suitable replacement. That said, had BB known that Aaron Hernandez would morph into two-gun Crowley, he might have stuck with Welker. But...no one saw that one coming...except those wise men in the media.
RESPONSE: A healthy Gronk appears to be a must, if the Pats are to make a SB run. There's no telling at this time when he'll be ready...or if he'll ever again regain his form.
RESPONSE: Sure...the loss of AH hurts. But, this can be overcome. Furthermore, the media negativity over the AH mess could become another "us against the world" rallying point, much like the bogus spygate "scandal" was.
Danny Woodhead bolted during free agency and signed with the Chargers.
RESPONSE: Danny played well while in NE. But, Shane Vereen should be more than ready to take up the slack.
The team didn't re-sign Brandon Lloyd.
RESPONSE: Evidently, Lloyd is a head-case. Still, his production must be replaced.
Deion Branch was also let go.
RESPONSE: Deion had a great career with the Pats. But, he's done.
These loses account for 354 completions, 29 touchdowns, and 4,129 yards of offense for the Patriots last season. Tom Brady's ENTIRE RECEIVING CORPS is gone from his 4,827-yard season last year!
RESPONSE: I refer you to the 2006 season, in which your lovables were handed the AFC Title game against the Patriots that year by the zebras...and the Pats' injury riddled defense let the team down. Brady had little WR fire-power to work with that year, as well.
Now, there are some out there that still think this Patriots offense will be a-okay, okely-dokely with Brady throwing to Michael Jenkins, Lavelle Hawkins, and Danny Amendola.
RESPONSE: in 2006, Brady had an ancient Troy Brown, Reche Caldwell, and Jabbar Gaffney to work with. This year, he has the players you mentioned above, plus rookie Aaron Dobson.
Sure. Sure they will.
RESPONSE Guys like you were saying the same thing in 2006.
If players like Hernandez are so expendable, why did New England give him a 5-year, $40 million extension? Why did they even try to re-sign Welker this offseason? Why did they franchise him in 2012, paying him nearly $10 million?
RESPONSE: No one is saying that AH and Wes won't be missed. But, you're neglecting the fact that the Pats have a deeper, stronger stable of RBs than they had in 2006, have an all-world TE (assuming he's healthy), and have what appears to be a younger, deeper, improved defense in 2013.
Logic: The bane of all New England apologists.
RESPONSE: Patriot fans "aplogize" for NOTHING. Our team has the best record in the NFL over the past decade. Really...such a silly comment from a fan of a team that leads the NFL in most playoff chokes over the same past decade.
There's also the school of thought that says that no matter who Tom Brady has to throw to, the Patriots will still be fine
RESPONSE: True...because Tom Brady is of of the greatest QBs to ever play the game...and BB is the greatest coach to ever prowl the sidelines.
RT @PantherPride86 Who exactly is Tom Brady going to throw to? ... Went to AFCCG with Reche Caldwell as leading WR. That won't be a problem.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) June 27, 2013
I like and respect Evan Silva, but come on.
The season he is referring to is the 2006 campaign, the one that saw the Patriots epically choke in the AFCCG that year to the Colts. That season, Brady still had Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk, Ben Watson, and a rookie Laurence Maroney on the team. That's a helluva lot better looking than what they have now.
RESPONSE: Your ignorance of the Patriots is showing again. Corey Dillon was all but washed up in 2006. Faulk was a great 3rd down RB. Maroney was inconsistent at best...and was more of a kick returner than a big time contributor in the backfield in his rookie year. Compare and contrast that with the solid Stevan Ridley, the up and coming Shane Vereen, veteran scat-back Leon Washington, and bruisers in Brandon Bolden, and veteran LeGarrette Blount.
But hey, whatever. I'm content to see this whole thing play out, and when the outcome ends up being what I think it will, I'm going to enjoy every darling moment of it.
RESPONSE: Hatred and obsession with the Pats is all you Manningless Dolt fans have left. Why don't you concentrate on that great young QB you now have, rather then rehash sad red, white, and blue memories? Don't watch the Pats this season...you may not like what you see.
What say you, my Patriot bretheran? Will the Pats struggle, or thrive?