It is no secret the New England Patriots face their toughest uphill battle in pursuit of a Lombardi trophy in 2013. After losing the AFC Championship game last year, the organization is faced with the bitter reality that it has been eight seasons since ultimate glory has been achieved. While Patriot nation survived the “Summer of Gronk” last year, Aaron Hernandez is a different beast. Rob is currently rehabbing and Hernandez has since been released. Could the Patriots move toward a run-heavy attack and exploit defenses on play action? Only time will tell. With Hernandez’ future in serious question pending the murder investigation, let’s take a look at a few other notable offensive players New England has lost over the 2013 offseason:
- Wes Welker
- Brandon Lloyd
- Danny Woodhead
There is no way around it, losing your most productive wide receiver over the past six seasons (Welker) hurts. This graphic proves it all:
New England hopes to find similar success with Danny Amendola in 2013, if he can stay healthy of course. While Brandon Lloyd was up and down for the lion’s share of last season, his veteran presence will still be missed. There is also no denying how valuable Danny Woodhead has been for the Pats. On the contrary, New England is deep at running back (Blount, Washington additions) and Shane Vereen should be able to slide right in. While Belichick has been proactive in filling those two holes, there are still some glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed.
Following the release of A-Hern, the Patriots have Rob Gronkowski, Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells and rookies Zach Sudfeld and Brandon Ford on the roster. Just recently, Ted Bruschi shared his opinions on an ESPN podcast and expressed the need for more of a general veteran presence on the roster. Picking up someone like Dallas Clark could help subsidize the missing production and add a great lockerroom personality.
While it seemed as if Alfonzo Dennard was making a good name for himself, just last week “Fonzi” was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Assuming Aqib Talib can stay healthy and man the left cornerback position, the shaky Kyle Arrington is the favorite to take the RCB slot with pressure from rookie Logan Ryan. The downfall and position change of McCourty has opened doors at this position. It has been a while since the Patriots have had a Ty Law or Asante Samuel type player, hopefully Talib can build upon his impressive debut in New England. If not, Brady and the offense will find themselves in a familiar spot – needing to score points and a lot of them.
Rookie Chandler Jones was quite impressive last year during his first year campaign, netting 6 sacks, 5 pass deflections and 3 forced fumbles in 14 games played in 2012. Unfortunately, he was nursing an ankle injury most of the year and hopes to come back stronger in 2013. After drafting LB/DE hybrid Jamie Collins, the Patriots continue to put their cards in the big anchors in the middle. Big boy Tommy Kelly has recently joined New England and Wilfork had arguably one of his best seasons last year. Justin Francis and Jake Bequette made some impact last year; however, there is still opportunity at this position.
Similar to the beliefs of Patriot Nation, I think as long as we have Belichick and Brady we will be right up there in the AFC. Unfortunately, “right up there” hasn’t resulted in a championship in close to a decade. Let’s see if the organization makes any last minute splashes to help boost their chances in 2013, I sure hope so.