The Hill did a great job of getting this rolling. He's taking some time off and I'd like to see this done by the new year. Just to give us something else to talk about, I'm going to throw in a backup for each position. A backup is defined as a guy who rarely started (except when the starter was down), but you still felt pretty darn good about him when he saw playing time.
The Patriots of the Decade: Starting Offense
#1 Tom Brady - We didn't vote on this one, but then again did we need to?
Backup: Matt Cassel - spent years on the bench as #2, and came through big time when Tom went down.
#1 Kevin Faulk - 64% of the popular vote, our do everything / 3rd down back is as solid as they come. When the time came last year for him to pound the rock, he showed that he has what it takes to get it done.
#2 Corey Dillon - 26% of the popular vote, defined what a primary ball carrier should be. This hungry veteran ran hard for the chance to pick up a ring, and it worked.
Backup: Sammy Morris - backup more often than not, but has filled in at half-back / full-back / split out as a wide receiver. Sammy won't be a starter in the NFL, but do we mind when he carries the rock?
#1 Ben Watson - 54% of the popular vote, a physical specimen that at times has seemed to under-perform. He has set behind him any talk of rock hands, and has shown that he can be a big time playmaker as well as a solid blocker. What more could you want from a tight-end.
Backup: Daniel Graham - had 27% of the popular vote, so this is more of a nod to him than anything.
Wide Receiver: (These I will list more by field position)
#1 Randy Moss - 29% of the popular vote (2 less votes than the next two), a one of a kind field stretching machine. Despite the fact that offenses game plan to stop him, he can still turn up the heat. Putting Randy in the #1 spot only makes sense, since he is the first receiver defenses and Brady look at.
#2 Troy Brown - 32% of the popular vote, putting Mr. Patriot at number 2 could be an age before beauty option or a nod to the guy that did whatever it took to help the Pats win Super Bowls. Either way, he deserves it.
#3 Wes Welker - 32% of the popular vote, putting Wes in the typical slot position is perfect for this Slot Machine. He owns the three highest Patriots catch totals for his three years as a Patriot. What's that? The season isn't over? No matter, Wes has the most catches this year of any Patriot despite sitting out two games with a third game still to come. Troy Brown defined a do everything player, Wes Welker perfected it.
Backup - Jabar Gaffney - always #3 or #4 on the depth chart, the Patriots did pretty well when the ball came his way. Not as tall or fast as Moss, not as shifty or wily as Brown or Welker, but a third receiver that this offense sorely needs.
Offensive Line: (This didn't work as well as I would have liked, because we are short a tackle)
Left Tackle: Matt Light - 48% of the popular vote, Matt has guarded Tom's blind side through good times and bad.
Left Guard: Logan Mankins - 16% of the popular vote, Logan has stood by Matt's side and launched running back projectiles at opposing defenses. If you need a hole opened, follow Logan.
Center: Dan Koppen - 14% of the popular vote, Dan is the play caller on the offensive line. Tom calls out the Mike, Dan calls out the coverage. When an offensive lineman is doing his job, other playmakers shine. It's only when Dan is missing, do we realize how much we need him.
This is where our line breaks down a little, so bear with me.
Right Tackle: Damien Woody - 6% of the popular vote, while Woody was a center for us, Wikipedia says, "He has played every position on the offensive line except left tackle." Thanks for filling in, Woody.
Backup C/G: Russ Hochstein - Russ showed Patriot versatiliy by playing Center, Guard, Fullback, and special teams. Brady stayed upright when Russ played, and for the O-line, that's a badge of honor.
Backup T: Dan Connolly - Signed by the Jaguars, their practice squad, our practice squad, and finally on the 53 man roster. Connolly was primarily a backup at both Tackle spots as well as special teams. With LeVoir and Vollmer on the roster, he's slid inside to backing up the guards. Thanks for the versatility.