This is a non-professional assessment here from the eyes of a long time Pats fan.
You could call this the glass-half-full perspective:
· To me, this was going to a bit of a transition year since it’s hard to believe that the Pats would let go of Seymour for a future draft pick if they thought they would be a deep playoff team this year.
· The Pats have a lot of higher-end draft picks in the next few drafts to fill holes.
· There are a lot of young players that got experience playing this year (Edelman, Chung, Vollmer Butler, Pryor others too) which should only help for the future.
· There are some developmental guys that could be contributors next year (McKenzie, Brace, Tate, Crable(?), others).
· Brady will be one more year removed from major surgery and is still in his prime.
· It’s an uncapped year and the Patriots are primed to be buyers, especially after losing the “top 8” playoff team status after yesterday’s loss (a small positive form yesterday’s loss, if that’s even possible).
You could call this the glass-half-empty perspective on the Offense and Defense:
· To me, the offense was way too reliant on two players (Moss, Welker), and Brady’s insistence on involving Moss at times comes at a price to the overall offense. Brady’s favorite receiver used to be the open one. Now he tries to find Moss even when Moss is sometimes blanketed. And if he doesn’t look for Moss, he can disappear from the game. Welker caught all those balls and his loss took the wind right out of this team’s sails. In short, the offense needs to get back to a system where there are no superstars and everything is more well balanced.
· The ground game tends to be non-existent when it’s really needed (running the clock, neutralizing the pass rush, red zone); which is to say that the Pats have become too pass happy and have replaced the running game with short passes in too many instances.
· The defense lacks playmakers and could stand an infusion of talent. Mayo took a step backwards, or at least didn’t noticeably improve. Wilfork could be gone. Adalius Thomas is likely finished here, which is fine but who fills the slot? Bodden and Springs are short term options and Bodden could be gone too. Burgess wasn’t worth the draft picks. Guyton and Banta-Cain should both be situational players and not a three down players. This defense had a lot of JAGS and very few difference makers.
· The loss of Bruschi, Harrison, Seymour and Vrabel, even if they all lost a step talent-wise, rattled this team. You could see in crucial situations that the defense was helter skelter and there was no real QB out there to keep everyone calm and focused.
It is possible for this team to improve for next year. But there was a lot of uncharacteristic things that took place this year. This team needs a talent transfusion and it’s clear to me that BB needs some help from his coordinators, especially on offense. This team looked way out of synch at times, and I think the cumulative brain drain (loss of O and D coordinators every year, plus Pioli) and the sudden loss of veteran leaders who were also among the team’s best players helped to do this team in.