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Projecting the Patriots Starting Offense

New England Patriots

SAN DIEGO, CA – DECEMBER 07: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 and his New England Patriots teammates take the field against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 7, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Now that the NFL’s team OTA’s are underway, we can take a look at what might be the Patriots starting lineup. Going into the draft, many believed New England would take a Cornerback in the 1st round. But there was also a sense that the Patriots might move up for CB Byron Jones out of UCONN, the Patriots didn’t do that either. But when it came to their 1st round choice, they picked 6’2″ 320 lb Defensive Tackle Malcolm Brown out of Texas. Scouts said he was a top 20 talent, but as many players do, Brown slid further and further down the draft board till pick #32. Lucky enough for New England, they had just lost All-Pro Defensive Tackle Vince Wilfork to the Houston Texans. So New England thought Brown would be a perfect replacement.





After the draft the Patriots would go on to sign multiple free agents, even some Patriots fans should remember. The Patriots inked LB Brandon Spikes and LB Dane Fletcher to 1-year deals.

The Patriots were hurting for depth at Linebacker and this is the exact veteran depth they needed. The Patriots filled their roster to the brim at 90 players. The Patriots have exactly $9,998,212 in salary cap after they signed their draft picks and multiple free agents after the draft. So lets get to assessing the roster.

Lets play devil’s advocate and say Tom Brady’s suspension stays at 4 games, for the first 4 games you have Jimmy Garoppolo under center, after that. Tom Brady re-claims his throne and the Patriots continue their winning ways.

We all know at Running back LeGarrette Blount is the starter, but with Shane Vereen going to the Giants, the Patriots need a receiving back, my best guess for a starter is last years 4th round pick out of Wisconsin James White. The 5’10” 205 lb back has great hands and is great at finding open space. The Patriots drafted White to prepare for the departure of Vereen. James White is my pick, but he has other competition like Tyler Gaffney, Dion Lewis and Travaris Cadet.

At Wide Receiver the top 4 starters would be Edelman, LaFell, Amendola and Dobson. I believe that Dobson (if healthy, which is a huge “if”) can put up some good numbers for New England. The former 2nd round pick out of Marshall has all the ability to be the Patriots deep threat. In Dobson’s first season he put up good numbers for New England. Dobson went for 37 receptions, 519 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not too shabby for a rookie. But Dobson will have to out battle Brandon Gibson, Josh Boyce and Brian Tyms.

The Patriots added great Tight end depth this offseason, bringing in, 6’7″ Buffalo Bills Scott Chandler. Scott Chandler will add an extra dimension to the Patriots offense, with Chandler and Gronkowski working the seams, it makes LaFell and Edelman even more dangerous. The Patriots also added former Washington Redskins Fred Davis. Davis will have to beat Michael Hoomanawanui for a roster spot, but I believe that you could pencil in Chandler’s name next to Rob Gronkowski.

Now, time to see who will protect Tom Brady. I strongly believe Nate Solder is a shoe-in at Left Tackle for the Patriots. While at Left Guard, its up in the air, the Patriots could go with their 4th round pick out of Florida State, Tre Jackson. The 6’4″ Guard was listed as the 2nd best all around Guard in the draft behind the Redskins Brandon Scherff. But they could go with their other 4th rounder, Shaq Mason. Mason is a big mauler at Guard, the 6’1″ 300 lb beast could fit very well in the run game. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said he believed Mason was the best run blocker in this draft. But the one thing that allowed Mason to drop in the draft, was his lack of skill in the pass blocking department. At Center, Bryan Stork is an obvious starter. For Right Guard, its a little tougher. The Patriots don’t have a plug-and-play Right Guard, their only options are Marcus Cannon, Jordan Devey & Ryan Wendell. Wendell isn’t exactly the Patriots fix at Right Guard. He did a pretty solid job last year, but maybe the Patriots could get more out of a Marcus Cannon who is younger and bigger. Lastly at Right Tackle the Patriots have a fine starter in Sebastian Vollmer. Vollmer has been in the NFL for several years and has a great experience at the position.

Overall, the Patriots offense looks to have only gotten better in the off season, maybe New England will have a juggernaut of an offense and defense that is sub par at best. Only time will tell.

 

12 Reasons The Patriots Lost Super Bowl XLVI

The Patriots are just about set to take on the NFC Champion Seahawks in their sixth Super Bowl appearance in the last 13 years. In their two most recent trips in 2007 and 2011, however, the Pats have not been able to come away victorious. In their most recent Super Bowl loss to the Giants, there were some pretty clear reasons as to why they were unable to win the game. We all remember the last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive orchestrated by Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw’s accidental touchdown and the last-second Hail Mary attempt falling incomplete. Chances are, however, most people have forgotten about some of the other reasons the Pats came out on the wrong end of the score, but not to worry. Here are the top-12 reasons the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLVI.

Tom Brady walks off the field in Indianapolis following the Super Bowl XLVI defeat.

Tom Brady walks off the field in Indianapolis following the Super Bowl XLVI defeat.

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Running Game Has Patriots More Fit For AFC Championship Than Last Year

Okay Patriots fans this is their third straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game, but this time it is on the road. The Patriots have not won a road playoff game in what feels like forever, really 2006 in San Diego but I digress. I feel like the talk of Brady vs. Manning has been dialed down this week as there was so much time spent on it during the regular season. Peyton now has all the stats, as he took Brady’s single season touchdown record this season, as well as Drew Brees’ yards record. While Brady still has more rings.

LaGarrette Blount was a force last weekend against the Colts.

LaGarrette Blount was a force last weekend against the Colts.

Brady did not need to have to have a lights out game last weekend against the Colts as he mainly handed off the ball and kept the Colts offense off the field and when they were on the field the defense stepped up. Josh McDaniels always has something up his sleeve that really makes me scratch my head, so I hope they stick to the run this week in Mile High and continue to keep the opposing teams offense off the field.

After all the Broncos offense is a well oiled machine with Manning having Welker, Decker, and the Thomas’ to throw to. All four had double digit touchdowns this season. We remember Peyton had plenty of weapons in Indianapolis and only won one Super Bowl so here is hoping he will not come up in the big game again. His arm strength has declined but now he has Welker in the slot and Thomas on those screen passes.



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The Chargers played the Broncos three times this season including last weekend’s Divisional matchup. Each time the Chargers defense held the Broncos under 30 points but unfortunately only won one of those games. The Broncos can win the shootout type games going up and down the field without question but when it comes down to it I don’t think they can win another time controlled game where the opposing team tries to eat the clock leaving the Broncos offense impatient. Also Tom Brady has had great success against Jack Del Rio defenses, the Broncos defensive coordinator and this year was no different as he lead the Patriots back in the second half of that great Sunday night thriller.

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Patriots Match-Up Mania: Tournament Time

Will Bill still smile tonight?

Will Bill still smile tonight?

Tom Brady isn’t really matched-up against Andrew Luck tonight, or is he? They’re never on the field together so they can’t block or tackle each other. However, the presence of both men under center is the decisive factor for both teams.

 

Brady is Brady. His playoff resume is well known and boasts the most playoff wins (17) ever. He’s also struggled lately in the postseason with a 5-5 mark in the last 10 games. He’s been erratic at times this season, largely because of the chaotic state of the offense around him. He’s still the essence of the New England Patriots, and the ubiquitous Patriots Way. He said while esponding to a question about facing Luck’s Colts and Luck himself:

 

My motivation is pretty simple. I just try to win, that’s what I try to do and try to be part of the reason why we’re successful. That’s part of doing my job and trying to be the best I can be for the team…To be a professional athlete and to play at this high level with this level of competition, winning is the only thing that’s important. That’s one goal and one objective that I’ve had for a  and very long time.

 

 

The media coverage of Luck makes him sound like a Brady clone. Is there a difference between the two, beyond the age and experience factors? I thought of two distinctions.

Mobility. Brady can’t move. We’ve all seen him try and we’ve seen him not scramble when he possibly could. Luck is RGIII compared to Brady. Against Kansas City, Luck displayed some elusiveness with the touchdown he scored after he recovered a fumble.

Weapons. Luck’s team might be the only team left with fewer established options than Bill Belichick’s squad. T.Y. Hilton is the target of choice for Luck and should face the Aqib Talib treatment from the Pats tonight. Julian Edelman at least has Danny Amendola running routes alongside him. And, would anyone trade LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley for Donald Brown and Trent Richardson?

 

The quarterback play is usually a huge factor in a game. Luck doesn’t have much around him to work with. BB’s defense keeps getting injured, just ask Brandon Spikes. Jamie Collins and Dane Fletcher are the next in line to do their jobs. Two other key players should be Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones who need to keep Luck in line and possibly provide a sack or two.

Patriots Stun Broncos With Biggest Comeback In Team History

Julian Edelman leaps into the end zone to give the Patriots the lead in the fourth quarter.

It was fitting that the coldest regular-season game played in Foxboro in the last 20 years (22 degrees) was also (one of) the best regular-season games played in Foxboro in the last 20 years. For the 10th time in 14 career meetings with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady got the best of the other best quarterback of our era after Denver dominated the home team in the first half, but just the first half, scoring the first 24 points of the game and forcing three turnovers.

It was the final turnover, however, that was the biggest one. Denver special teams player, Tony Carter, allowed the ball to hit him after Wes Welker, back to return the kick with three minutes remaining in overtime, may have made the “get away” call just a little too late. New England recovered and three plays later, Stephen Gostkowski capped the biggest comeback in Patriots’ history with a 31-yard field goal to beat the Denver Broncos, 34-31.

If you’re going to turn the ball over three times in a game, you might as well get them all out of your system in the first half.

“The weather conditions get a little tough [and] things can turn quickly,” said  Brady, who finished 34-of-50 for 344 yards and three touchdowns, of the second-half turnaround.

Despite only one touchdown pass from Manning in the first half, Denver jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks to Patriots’ fumbles on each of their first three possessions. Von Miller returned the first 60 yards for a touchdown 4:53 into the game and Kowshon Moreno plowed in from two yards out just over a minute later following a Brady fumble that was returned to the New England 10. They were two of his 224 rushing yards on the night, easily a career-high.

Then, LeGarrette Blount put the ball on the ground, leading to a field goal and quick 17-0 lead before Manning threw his first touchdown pass to in the second quarter to make it 24-0 all before the break.

It seemed like it would be a laugher after the first 30 minutes, but Brady drove the Pats down the field after receiving the second-half kickoff and after just eight plays, hit Julian Edelman from five yards out to make it 24-7. Then, after five straight draw plays to begin their first drive of the half, Moreno put the ball on the ground as Dane Fletcher jarred it out and Brandon Spikes got the recovery. Six plays after that, Brandon Bolden ran it in from a yard out and just like that it was 24-14. By the end of the third, it was 24-21 as Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on 3rd-and-6 to bring the Pats within three.

It kept going after that. Manning threw just his sixth interception of the year into the arms of Logan Ryan and three plays later, Brady hit Edelman for their second scoring connection of the night to cap the 30-yard, 78-second drive and somehow give the Patriots the 28-24 lead.

After Wesley Woodyard dropped a tipped interception that he had both his hands on and a would-be 2nd-and-20 was negated by an illegal hands to the face penalty, Gostkowski hit his 20th consecutive kick to give the Pats the seven-point lead with just over seven and a half remaining.

When it looked like it could be over on the next Denver drive, Aqib Talib, who had completely shut down Demaryius Thomas all night, was called for holding and negated his own interception, giving the Broncos some hope. Then Manning started converting third downs and Thomas started catching passes. And the Patriots started committing penalties. With 3:06 left, Manning hit Thomas from 11 yards out to tie the score at 31 after Denver picked up two first downs from penalties on the drive, including a pass interference call on Rob Ninkovich on 3rd-and-7 in the red zone. Brady would then go three and out and Ryan Allen was called to punt the ball to Welker with 1:45 remaining.

Denver took over at the 33-yard line, going into the wind. Then, Manning went three and out with a near sack from Andre Carter, a pass break-up from Kyle Arrington and an incomplete floater to give Brady one more chance from his own 11-yard line with 28 seconds left and two timeouts. Just a screen and a draw would take Brady and Manning to overtime, though.

After winning the coin toss, the Pats elected to forego possession and select the side of the field with the wind at their back, giving Manning and the Broncos the ball first. Both teams would trade possessions with New England’s ending on a long incomplete sideline pass on 3rd-and-4 after everyone thought Kenbrell Thompkins was interfered with on the previous throw, forcing the Pats to burn their first timeout to cool off.

When it seemed the Pats would be playing for a tie at best, the only thing that hadn’t happened in the game happened. Nate Ebner recovered the loose ball at the 18 and with 6’8’’ backup quarterback Brock Osweiler in the game to try to get the block, Gostkowski sent those who stuck it out home happy with a little bit of history to take with them.

Special teams players pile on Nate Ebner after he recovered the botched punt to set up the winning field goal.

Special teams players pile on Nate Ebner after he recovered the botched punt to set up the winning field goal.

“We just calmed down and each played one play at a time,” said Edelman, who finished with nine catches for 110 yards and the two huge touchdowns. “We didn’t turn the ball over in the second half.”

For Brady, it was his 33rd game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime and this was certainly one of the bigger ones as New England now controls its own destiny in its hunt for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Denver turned the ball over four times in the second half while the Patriots played mistake-free and scored on all five of their possessions, including 21 points in the third quarter, 10 in the fourth and, of course, the three in overtime. Manning finished with just 150 passing yards while Brady put up 344. It was the Pats’ ability to score touchdowns and not having to settle for field goals that gave them a chance to get back in the game.

While they did fumble the ball six times, they only losy three. Welker finished his return to Foxboro with just four catches for 41 yards and, of course, it wouldn’t be a Welker outing at Gillette without a big drop.

“We had a lot of guys step up here,” said Bill Belichick after the game. “You could rattle off 35-40 guys.”

After the improbable victory, New England will move on to the disappointing Texans (2-9) while the Broncos will take on the Chiefs for the second time in three weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

The New ‘A-Team’ Large In Patriots’ Opening Day Win

Kyle Arrington came up large for the Patriots on Sunday.

Kyle Arrington came up large for the Patriots on Sunday.


With all the talent that the Patriots have on both sides of the ball, certain games will inevitably come down to the same guys making key plays at opportune times. In Sunday’s Opening Day win over the Bills, however, it was a couple of the bottom two guys you might expect, but ones near the top of the roster, who were key assets in helping the team pull out the two-point win.

Everyone will remember Tom Brady going 6-for-6 on the eventual game-winning drive and steer his pre-halftime interception that cost the team seven points to the back of their minds. Many of us will also point to the reliability of Stephen Gostkowski as a big factor in the win since after all, he went 3-for-3 and was right down the middle on the game-winner with five seconds left. Finally, the productiveness and toughness of newcomer, Danny Amendola, was sure to have stood out in the minds of some, but in my opinion, that is what he was brought here to do – to be that No. 1 receiver and spend a good deal of time in the spotlight.

Two of the more impressive guys on Opening Day, however, arguably were Kyle Arrington and rookie punter, Ryan Allen. In case you forgot, two of the most critical factors in the outcome of an NFL game are turnovers and field position. These two were at the center of both these departments for the Patriots on Sunday.

Let’s start with Arrington. Yes, he was beaten on Steve Johnson‘s third-quarter touchdown reception that gave the Bills the lead for a while, but he could have gotten a little bit better safety help on the play. Other than that, he was all over the place – especially compared to what we are used to seeing from him as a nickel corner.

He forced both Bills’ fumbles, the first of which was a result of good form tackling the bigger C.J. Spiller and punching the ball out at the same time. Giving the Pats starting field position at the 16-yard line of Buffalo all but guaranteed a score for the Brady-led offense. Arrington also made five tackles on the day, including four solo and one for a loss. He then forced another fumble late in the first half that led to Brady’s second touchdown pass and Julian Edelman‘s second touchdown catch as he finished the day with more tackles than Dont’a Hightower, Aqib Talib, Brandon Spikes and Devin McCourty, while not being used as an every-down player.

Aside from getting beat on the Johnson touchdown, Arrington also had a solid day in coverage while he was on the field. He picked up his first pass deflection of the season and played a role in no Bills’ receiver having more than 41 receiving yards on the day. Also, E.J. Manuel was able to throw for just six passing first downs due to the tight coverage across the board. Fred Jackson, their leading receiver and a running back, would have been the responsibility of a linebacker most times, anyway.

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