I know it's early, but after the first two preseason games, I'm thinking this is the most talented team the Pats have had since 2007. At just about every position I see a lot of guys who are young and athletic with tons of potential. No more old guys. No more misfits and marginal players cut from other squads. This looks like a team with lots and lots of upside to me . . . and at least decent quality and diversity at almost every position. Mostly, it's a team with a lot of youth and a lot of athleticism.
My favourite group right now is the LBs and all the edge players. Hightower and Jones both look ready to break out. And I just love the athleticism of Fletcher, Collins, Bernard, Buchanan, and Beauharnais. Already we're seeing better pass rush and pass coverage from those guys. This to me is a huge, huge improvement on defense.
I love Kelly and Wilfork in the middle. Worried about depth there, but that's looking like a great starting unit in the middle of the D line.
It's hard to judge the secondary with McCourty and Dennard out, but gotta like Talib. And while the young guys are making lots of mistakes, I'm liking the athleticism. Harmon, I think, is gonna surprise people. He'll be the fourth safety I think (after McCourty, Gregory, and A. Wilson, in that order)--and may start winning snaps from Gregory by midseason. Intrigued by Justin Green too . . . . the guy's getting a lot of snaps and while he doesn't look like a great cover corner to me seems to be around the ball and seems to be quite physical. May end up as the ninth or tenth DB.
On offense, gotta love the RBs. Ridley and Vereen really look like a quality NFL backfield. As much as you gotta like the hardworking Woodheads and BJGEs of the world, those guys are really marginal starters. Ridley and Vereen, however, bring us the kind of quality we've needed to make the running game a real part of the offense. The back-ups are all pretty good too.
And then there are all the new receivers. Amendola and Brady seem to have the same chemistry as Welker and Brady, but with Amendola being bigger and faster. Then there are young, outside receivers (Dobson, Tompkins, and Boyce), who will add a whole new dimension to our offense that has been missing for years.
The TEs are good too . . . and once Gronk is back, we'll have a nice unit there with plenty of depth. With Hern gone, I doubt the passing offense will be quite as TE focused as it was last year, but these guys will block well in the running game and will still have a lot of receptions.
I doubt Devlin will stick, but it was kind of nice to see a real FB in the offense . . . a guy who not only blocks and catches, but runs hard in short yardage situations . . .
I've said for years that the Pats have done remarkably well given talent that never seemed quite up to championship quality. I think now we are turning once again into a really talented, athletic team. The coaching will be as stellar as ever, and with all the young, athletic football players on the team I think the Pats are in the best shape they've been in since about 2007.
As Pete Carroll would have said . . . "we're pumped and jacked" about this year . . .