Re: Pats' Passive Off-Season Makes No Sense
posted at 3/18/2010 12:37 AM EDT
Sorry I've been late in responding...just extremely busy lately. Rather than take on your posts individually...here is my general response to you-all:
At the end of last season, the following weaknesses were obvious:
1.) Punter: Chris Hanson is terrible. He was once know as a good "positional punter"...a guy who could angle his kicks 40 yards and out of bounds, or nail the "coffin corner" kick, inside the opponents' own 10 yard line. Those days are gone. Hanson may be the worst overall punter in the NFL.
2.) Kick Return Game: With Welker gone, the Pats have no one...and I mean no one...who is a competent punt returner or kickoff returner. Matthew Slater is terrible. Patrick Chung was awful. NO ONE!! Add this with poor punting, and you'll know why the Patriots always seem to start drives in horrible field position...and why opposing offenses always seem to have a short field against the not so formidable Patriots' defense.
a.) Pass Protection: Over the past two seasons, Tom Brady has suffered a severe knee injury, broken ribs, and a damaged throwing shoulder. At age 33, how much more abuse can Brady take? Time to give the OL a wake-up/shake-up call...and let them know that if Brady's livelihood is on the line, so are their jobs. OTs Nick Kazcur is a joke...and longtime LT Matt Light is showing his age. Sebastien Vollmer provides hope. RG Steven Neal is 33 years old, and always seems to get hurt. Center Dan Koppen isn't the same player since his knee injury. LG Logan Mankins still needs to be extended;
b.) Run Blocking: Sorry guys, but the Pats have become a soft, finesse team. I for one am tired of seeing Patriot RBs, no matter who they are, getting hit behind the line of scrimmage...or having no room to run. Is there any wonder why Tom Brady throws 45 times per game...and Wes Welker has to be counted on for 100 plus receptions?
3.) RBs: Let the Maroney bashing begin! Frankly, I had no problems with Maroney, until he developed a bad case of fumble-itis last season. RBs Kevin Faulk, Fred Taylor, and Sammy Morris all are around 34 years old...which is ancient for an NFL player at this position. A stud is badly needed. Why didn't the Pats at least kick the tires on Thomas Jones?
4.) WRs: Anyone who thinks that Wes Welker will be a huge contributor next season is dreaming. At best, he'll be ready to go in late November. You saw how anemic the Pats' offense was without him in the Ravens' blow-out playoff win. The Pats still lack a WR to run opposite of Randy Moss. If the season started today, the Pats would be starting Moss, Sam Aiken, and Julian Edleman, with perhaps Shamus of the WWE at TE. After Moss gets' mauled, other than Shamus, there is no threat.
5.) DL: Vince is back!! Great!!! His alleged back-up, Ron Brace, strongly resembled a bust last season. With Jarvis Green gone, who replaces Richard Seymour? Mike Wright?? Ty Warren was put together with glue and popsicle sticks last year. Worse yet...who are the back-ups?
6.) OLBs: Unfortunately, Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess have flopped. Tully Banta-Cain was resurrected, and had a good season. The Pats are still
waiting for Shawn Crable to make it through a practice
without straining a hamstring. Pierre Woods is a good special teamer. How exciting.
7.) Secondary: How is 2008 2nd rounder Terrence Wheatley working for ya?? The CBs are so bad that the Pats had to pay a premium to bring back Leigh Bodden. Darius Butler offers hope. The 34th overall pick last year, Patrick Chung, brought back painful memories of his "cousin" Eugene. When he hits, he hits hard. But his coverage skills were sorely lacking. Maybe he'll improve...we hope.
8.) Coaching: In many games, the Pats looked disorganized, and were badly outcoached last season...particularly in the second half of games. They were a team that could not win on the road. I can't remember a Patriots' team being so deficient in these areas since the bad old days. Yet, BB made no effort to bring in an experienced OC or DC. Can somebody please point out the wisdom here?
The bottom line is...is there anyone who can tell me with a straight face that these flawed Patriots, as currently constituted, are a legitimate SB contender? I've never questioned Bob Kraft's commitment to winning, until now. I recommend this excellent article on the above subject, by Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal: http://www.projo.com/patriots/content/Jim_Donaldson_New_England_Patrio_03-07-10_31H_v2.30f478c.html