Re: Being very honest about this season
posted at 9/2/2009 4:19 AM EDT
I think we're somewhere between 12 and 15 wins. Not quite as good as '07 because Brady will surely have lost something or have to sit out a game or two; and because the D is younger (although better, IMHO) and is likely to have a bad game or two.
The strength of our D is the line, and regardless of the fact that the passing game has become so prolific in the league, the game starts in the trenches. I disagree about the "too many DT's" comment completely and utterly for three reasons. First, Green and Seymour are essentially DE-quickness with DT or almost-DT size. That's not a bad thing. Second, we have some big LB's like Burgess, TBC, and AT, that can come in as blitz rushers and crush halfback blocks. But third and most importantly is our coach. Too much size up front might be a problem for some other team, but having an absolutely ludicrously stacked position is the kind of stuff that BB dreams about. I could see anything from Seymour dropping in coverage on big TEs to a dime line with Pryor and Wilfork up front that is impossible to run on. I can't wait.
The secondary will give up some big plays, but it will make a lot more big plays this year than since Asante left. The secondary is tough to call with what we've seen, but it is young and fast, and there is even some height. I think Chung will become a starter by game 6, and that will send Meriweather to FS, and that will be dynamic. We also have depth, especially at CB, which is all-important in keeping these guys fresh when they get little injuries so they won't turn into big injuries.
The LBs are a work in progress. On the one hand, Mayo and AT are among the top 5 1-2 LB punches in the league. On the other hand, the weak side is dubious, and the 3-4 line scares me. I'm not sold on Crable's coverage skills, I think Guyton will be a dependable WAG. But Woods just can't put it together; he has a good physical game but he has no field sense - he just misses big plays all the time. BB called Rosie Colvin before he let Alexander start. TBC and Burgess seem to be one-dimensional. Still, BB usually has one of the three field levels that is just not all there - remember the Troy-Brown-as-CB years? - and he always ranks in the top 10 defenses.
Our offense is nasty, but I just can't imagine them being as good as '07. Other teams have learned, and I just have a bad feeling that Welker or Moss is going to have some injury troubles this year - three years healthy in a row for both of them is too much to expect. Baker was a good addition, and I think our TEs are really quite good this year. Baker can catch, Watson is not a 1st round talent but he is a quality #2 TE, a good blocker, and he can catch in the red zone. Thomas is showing some tantalizing versatility out of the backfield, kind of a bigger version of Kevin Faulk? I have to think either Galloway or Lewis will stick, and Edelman is the best insurance policy on Wes Welker we could hope for.
The O line is getting older, so it's good to have a guy like Vollmer to spell Light. Letting go of Hochstein was ballsy, but we have a logjam of 4 guys who want that backup interior spot - again, I'll play the odds one of them has to at least be a reliable backup, and possibly a starter when Neal gets injured in Week 4.
The backfield will be our secret weapon. We can run 150 yds in any given game if we want to. If we keep 5 RBs, we can lose any two, or let them stay healthy by sitting games with minor injuries, and be almost unaffected. We have 3 bruising backs to soften up big lines and serve as extra blockers for play action.
Only the best 5-6 coached teams can plan for half of what we can throw at them every game; and even better we can change it completely at half time. We can throw 40 times in one game, then run 40 time the next game. We can flood the mid level with TE's, with Welker-Edelman double slots, or with Maroney, Morris, and Faulk popping up through the line. We can go vertical to Moss or use him as a decoy and get man coverage for Galloway or Lewis. We can put 3 in the backfield, pull with Mankins, and have 3 blockers opening a hole for BJGE. Outstanding.
Special teams also looks strong, depending on how many specialists we manage to keep. I think our castoffs out of training camp will be reserves for 20 teams in the league, but ST specialists have the best chance of clearing onto the practice team. We have probably the best placekicker in football. Our punter is average to above average. We have depth at the return positions. We have the best QB, maybe ever. Bring it on.