Re: Anybody else think this may be the most talented team the Pats have had since 2007?
posted at 8/30/2014 10:00 PM EDT
In response to prolate0spheroid's comment:
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 . . .
I started this thread last year, but as I look over the roster this year, I'm thinking the title of this thread is still valid . . . because in my opinion we're even better this Labour Day than we were a year ago. Here's what I like about this year's version of the team:
- The secondary is great. If we think in conventional terms--two corners, two safeties--we might think the second safety spot is weak. But I don't think that's the way to view the secondary on this team. I think we're going to have a core of McCourty, Revis, and one other corner--three guys. And then we'll add additional DBs around the core depending on situations and match ups. Arrington is going to play a big role as a small safety or nickel corner. Harmon will be the more traditional safety Wilson and/or Chung will give us a heavier set of options if we want to focus more on the running game. Then we may use Ryan and Butler if we want to emphasize pass defense.
- The front seven may lack depth . . . or it may not. Again, I think you have to look at it through an unconventional lens. I see this front seven as basically three positions: core interior down linemen (two or three in most formations), edge guys (two in most formations) and backers (two or three in most formations). At the core, we've got five guys (Wilfork,Easley, Siliga, Vellano, and Chirs Jones) playing two or three positions, and Chandler Jones can move inside if we need a sixth. For those edge roles we have Chandler Jones, Nink, Buchanon, Moore, Hightower, Flemming, and maybe Collins--at least seven guys who can fill the two slots. And then on the backers, we've got Mayo, Collins, Hightower, Flemming, White, and, in a pinch, Nink--six to cover two or three positions. Versatility means depth without lots of roster slots.
- Moving to offense, Brady remains great, but have we ever had better depth at QB? Hopefully we never have to use that depth, but if Garoppolo were ever to have to come in for a few games, I don't think I'd assume the season was over.
- I like the WRs/TEs much better than I did last year. Last year I saw potential, but wasn't 100% sure the receivers would live up to the potential. This year, I feel better. In large part, that's because Dobson and Thompkins do look (from what we've seen) to have progressed. Amendola and Edelman are excellent in the slot and I'm much more comfortable with them when we have some real outside receivers to complement them. Gronk (if healthy) is the best in the league . . . and Wright gives us another bigger receiver, something we really needed when Gronk was out.
- The backs excite me in the passing game . . . I like Vereen and Develin as receivers. I wasn't overly impressed with White's running, but I'm hoping he's a contributor in the passing game. And Ridley and Boldin give us some run-focused options (though I think this is looking like a pass heavy team unless Ridley stops fumbling).
- The one concern I have is with the interior O line. The Mankins trade has left some big question marks on an interior line that seemed to need some improvement. Tackles (if healthy) are fine . . . but we'll have to see what the interior line looks like. Right now, I just haven't seen enough from anyone to feel confident that the line hasn't gone backwards rather than forward. But the jury is still out . . . I'm hoping for the best.
- Finally, the kicking game remains a strength . . . good coverage units and good kickers.
Really, there's a lot to be optimistic about. O line is my only question mark. I'm not sure exactly how good the offensive weapons will be, but we've got so many intriguing options, I'm certain enough will gel to make this a top 5 offense. And I think the defense is going to be special. Maybe not number 1, but certainly top 10. This seems to be the most complete team we've had since 2007. There's a real chance that this team not only makes it to the Super Bowl, but finally has the horses to get over the hump and win.
Barring injury of course . . .