YOOOAdrian’s 2010 NFL Preview- New England Patriots

It’s been a while since the New England Patriots headed into an NFL season as an underdog to win the AFC East.  The 2009 season ended in a disaster due to a 33-14 drubbing by the Ravens in the AFC Wild Card.  It’s going to be an interesting season because the offense is so good, and the defense is so bad.  With such a bad defense, it’s going to be very important for New England to put up 7’s and not 3’s on the scoreboard on each possession.  And then there’s Tom Brady.  It seems like everyone forgot how good the guy is.

 Quarterbacks

Tom Brady- 371/565  65.7%  28 td  13 int  96.2 rat

They say that it takes 2 years to fully recover from an ACL knee injury.  Well, this is Brady’s 2nd year back from his knee injury suffered in week 1 of the 2008 season against Kansas City.  That damn Bernard Pollard.

(Tom Brady)

Brady can still throw it around, and has one of the best deep balls in the NFL.  uncharacteristically, Brady made some bonehead decisions and mistakes late in some contests last year.  He’s usually the most clutch quarterback in the NFL.  With a chip on his shoulder and fully recovered from the knee injury, I expect a huge season from Brady.

Others- Brian Hoyer, Zac Robinson

Hoyer is a smart quarterback who has picked up the Patriots complex offense quite well.

GRADE- 9

 Running Backs

Laurence Maroney- 194 car  757 yds  3.9 avg  9 td  14 rec  99 yds

The Patriots use a plethora of backs, and Maroney is the number 1 guy.  He is at his best near the goal line.  Maroney downfalls are his fumbling and his inability to hit the hole.

(Laurence Maroney)

Fred Taylor- 63 car  269 yds 4.3 avg  4 td  2 rec  17 yds

Taylor missed a lot of the season due to an ankle injury.  He is in the twilight of his career at this point.

Others- Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk

Morris does a bit of everything, and Faulk is a fantastic receiver out of the backfield on 3rd downs.

GRADE- 7

Receivers

Randy Moss- 83 rec  1,264 yds  15.2 avg  13 td

Moss can be the most dangerous receiver in the NFL when he wants to be.  Unless you’re Darrelle Revis, you have to double cover this guy.  Even at this point of his career, he’s still one of the best deep threats in the league.

(Randy Moss)

Wes Welker- 123 rec  1,348 yds  11.0 avg  4 td

Welker, in my opinion, is the best slot receiver in the game.  If he can come back from the ACL tear, he will be Brady’s go to guy in clutch spots.  Welker knows how to get open and read a defense.  He’s quick and slippery and great after the catch.

Julian Edelman- 37 rec  359 yds  9.7 avg  1 td

Edelman is a former quarterback in college and a Wes Welker clone.  He had a fantastic game in the Wild Card Game against Baltimore scoring 2 touchdowns.

TE- Alge Crumpler- 27 rec  222 yds  8.2 avg  1 td

Crumpler is strictly a blocking tight end at this point of his career.

Others- Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Tate, Taylor Price

Gronkowski and Hernandez are both rookie tight ends who should see playing time.

Tate can be solid receiver if he can stay healthy.

GRADE- 9

 Offensive Line

LT- Matt Light 

Light is a solid left tackle, but he struggles against speed rushers.

 LG- Logan Mankins

Mankins is a mauler.  He plays with a mean streak and sets the tone up front.  He is very good at setting the seal.

(Logan Mankins)

 C- Dan Koppen

Koppen isn’t dominant, but he’s a great match for Brady.

 RG- Stephen Neal 

Neal is another mauler who excels in the run game.

 RT- Sebastian Vollmer

Vollmer was very impressive as a rookie, starting 12 games at both tackle spots.  He’s a good run blocker and can get to the 2nd level effectively.

 GRADE- 7.5

 Defensive Line

 LDE- Gerard Warren- 35 tck  2 sck  1 p def 

Losing Ty Warren is huge.  Warren, Myron Pryor and Ron Brace will all fight for playing time.

NT- Vince Wilfork- 43 tck  2 p def  1 ff

Wilfork is the unsung hero on the defense.  He’s a 2 gap plugger, opens up space for others and collapses the pocket.

(Vince Wilfork)

RDE- Mike Wright- 35 tck  5 sck  2 p def  1 ff

Wright is a smart football player, and can play anywhere on the line.

Others- Myron Pryor, Ron Brace

Besides Wilfork, the starting lineups may change weekly.  The Ty Warren injury is a huge blow.

GRADE- 7.25

 Linebackers

 LOLB- Tully Banta-Cain- 54 tck  9.5 sck  2 p def  2 ff 

Banta-Cain is a solid pass rusher, good run stuffer and solid in pass coverage.

 LILB- Jerod Mayo- 103 tck  1.5 sck  1 p def  1 ff

Mayo is smart, instinctive and a good tackler.  He does everything well.

(Jerod Mayo)

RILB- Gary Guyton- 85 tck  2 sck  4 p def

In my opinion, I think Guyton is more suited to play of the outside.  I question his ability to take on blockers.

ROLB- Marques Murrell- 12 tck  1 ff

The Pats can go with a couple options at this spot. 

Others- Brandon Spikes, Bruce Davis, Shawn Crable

Spikes is a guy I love.  By the end of the season I can see New England inserting Spikes in Guyton’s spot and moving Guyton outside.

GRADE- 7

Secondary

 LCB- Darius Butler- 35 tck  3 int  8 p def 

The Leigh Bodden injury is huge, because he was really the only really experienced starter in the secondary.  Butler had some growing pains as a rookie with penalties and mistakes.

RCB- Devin McCourty- ROOKIE

McCourty is a 1st round pick from Rutgers.  McCourty is good at flipping his hips and keeping up with faster receivers.

CB- Terrence Wheatley- 2 tck

Wheatley hasn’t really developed into anything as of yet, but there is so little depth at the position.

FS- James Sanders- 48 tck  3 p def

Sanders is a solid tackler, and with the youngster Patrick Chung on his tail, Sanders needs to perform.

SS- Brandon Meriweather- 83 tck  5 int  9 p def  2 ff

Meriweather is a playmaker and a hinderance.  He makes plays, and then he can also miss a lot of tackles.

(Brandon Meriweather)

Others- Jonathan Wilhite, Patrick Chung

Chung will start if Sanders falters.

GRADE- 7

 Special Teams

PK- Stephen Gostowski- 26/31  53 lg

Gostowski is the number 1 ranked fantasy kicker, will that translate on the field?

  P- Zoltan Mesko- ROOKIE

When I think of Zoltan, I think of “Dude Where’s My Car.”

 KR- Brandon Tate- 4 ret  26.5 avg  34 lg

Tate needs to stay healthy, because he’s a threat.

PR- Wes Welker-  2 ret  22.5 avg  27 lg

Welker is quick and shifty as a returner.

 GRADE- 7

 2010 PREDICTION- 10-6

This is a tough team to gauge.  Offensively they’re superb, and they’re going to have to dictate how a game is played.  If they can put up some points, that may make the opposing offenses one dimensional, which could benefit the Patriots defense.  Bill Belichick is the most knowledgable football mind in the game right now.  He knows how to adjust.  I’m just not going to give up on Brady and Belickick thus yet.  Brady has something to prove.

Offensive MVP- Tom Brady

Defensive MVP- Jerod Mayo

Breakthrough- Patrick Chung

Overrated- Randy Moss

Underrated- Tom Brady

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