Each year, for every NFL team, there become one or more storylines that become overplayed, and portrayed as more of an issue than they really seem. The Patriots have seen their fair share over the past few years, from lack of a pass rush, to an aging defense, to Tom Brady's recovery from knee injury, to Randy Moss "quitting" and so on. Today, we'll continue our Patriots prediction series by looking at storylines that are likely to be overplayed in 2010.
Richard Hill: Tom Brady's Contract
No, he won't, shut up and stop saying that you main stream media drama queens.
Stephen Verman: Tom Brady's Contract
There is no question for me that the idea of Tom Brady leaving the Patriots is preposterous. While I acknowledge that he is no longer the super-dedicated, first-in-last-out type of player, he is only a very small step down from there. The man reported for camp with the rookies. Brady is going to be paid very very well, and will retire a Patriot. End of story.
Marima: Tom Brady's Disconnect With Patriots
Remember the tiresome "Tom Brady's Body Language" theme of 2006? This will be even worse because neither Brady nor Kraft nor Belichick will talk so it leaves every insect under every rock free to speculate wildly. All they have to do is pull a John Clayton and say "it's possible" before whatever juicy theory (backed up by 'sources') they want to print.
Right on the heels of the Brady non-story, will be the continuation of the Randy Moss Watch. He will have his effort questioned, his motivation, his demeanor on the sideline and his supposed feelings towards the way the Patriots may or may not handle any contract talks to secure his services beyond 2010.
Comedic.Sans: Tom Brady's Contract
Brady suddenly wants the Pats to break the bank and will hold out otherwise at pain of death, despite Brady choosing to take less and reshuffling his contract to suit the team in previous years. Sense? This makes none.
Mike Dussault's and I give our predictions after the jump (hint: neither have to do with Tom Brady's contract)!
Mike Dussault: Pass Rush
Look I'm not saying getting more pressure on the QB isn't critical for this team, but everyone seems to think that one of our OLBs has to suddenly turn into Demarcus Ware if the Pats are going anywhere. Pass Rush is a lot more about winning one on one battle in trenches. Guys like Damione Lewis, Mike Wright, Tully, and now Jermaine Cunningham don't have to explode for 15 sacks, we just need them to consistently make the quarterback get rid of the ball. With an improved secondary it should help, but the d-line and linebackers must be relentless to hold up their part of the bargain.
Greg Knopping: Youth on Defense
So I'm going against the grain on this one. While everybody else chose to go with Tom Brady's contract situation being completely blown out of proportion, which in a sense blows it even further out of proportion, I'm picking something that has YET to be blown out of proportion, by predicting that it will be blown out of proportion in the near future, if you can follow me. Honestly, the way I see it, I think Tom Brady will get his contract done before the start of the regular season, causing the mainstream media to turn their attention to some other story. The question is, what?
The way I see, the mainstream media (particularly the national media) is usually at least half a season behind when it comes to the Patriots (or any NFL team for that matter). Last year, people would still say that the Patriots defense was too old and slow, and that they weren't the same. By the end of the year and the start of the offseason, people have finally caught on to the "rebuilding" process that has taken place on the defensive side of the ball for the Patriots.
That being said, I have a strange feeling that the Patriots defense, in the minds of the casual NFL fan and the national media, is going to go from too old to "too young." People will ignore the presence of veterans such as Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Leigh Bodden, Tully Banta-Cain and Ty Warren, and focus more on the presence of youngsters such as Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, and Devin McCourty, especially if they land starting positions. Jerod Mayo and Brandon Meriweather may even get grouped in that "too young" category.
I can see it happening now: it started with the Derrick Burgess situation (which is surprisingly getting a lot of national attention), and will continue whenever the Patriots' defense struggles.
In summary, pretty much everyone knows that the Tom Brady contract situation is being blown out of proportions, particularly due to the rumor-addicted media figures such as Chris Mortensen and Mike Florio, who will try to latch on to any Brady story and put a negative spin on it. However, we should also keep an eye on how the media treats the Patriots' "youth" on defense. Monday, we'll look at a player who could have a big drop-off for the Patriots in 2010.