Sure, it was a tough game to end the season. However, I think the first day of next season starts today.
I'll start off by congratulating the Ravens on red-zone/third-down defense. The Patriots would get a drive rolling and it would end up no where. The Patriots offense was only able to put up 13 points on the board, all in the first half. That is something to be ashamed of. That is something nobody would ever have imagined going into the playoffs and being the highest scoring offense in the league.
For the most part, the defense held their own up until the 3rd quarter when it begun to break down. I will not put the blame on Talib's absence because even Arrington had played respectively. They couldn't really get pressure on Flacco and they let him find his receivers. But I think games like those help us find what the biggest needs are for this team, so here is what I believe them to be: WR, CB, SS, DE/DT, coverage LB. I think WR is actually the biggest as of now.
Now what exactly can we take away from this team?
-Wes Welker is not going anywhere.
Sure he had some key drops but Wes embodies the meaning of being a Patriot. He fights every single play. I fully expect the Patriots to re-sign him. They experimented with Edelman, and while I believe Edelman has a place on the team, I don't see him ever being the receiver that Wes is.
-Rookies showed promise.
Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Tavon Wilson, Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Bolden, Justin Francis...all of them should be given high praise for we could not have made it this far without them. I mostly acknowledged Alfonzo Dennard yesterday for he had shown fantastic coverage all night. He played amazing. Chandler Jones started the year off great but was slowed due to nagging ankle injuries, Dont'a Hightower improved as the season went on and will continue to get better. Tavon WIlson is great at covering tight-ends. Brandon Bolden showed some nice depth at running the football. Justin Francis showed us he can get after the passer. All of them give us a bright season to look forward to next year.
-It isn't how you start, it's how you finish.
Well duh. However in this case, the Patriots started bad, got better, got amazing, and then gave out last night. But remember those losses to the Cardinals, then the Ravens, then the Seahawks? I know a lot of us began to panic. And then, Talib comes in and McCourty is moved to safety and that already had done a ways with the defense. The Patriots will be in the same position again next year.
-McCourty is a free safety.
He has played phenomenal back there. He should be considered the free safety of the future. Now if we can only find a strong safety....
-Patrick Chung should be gone.
I think that one speak for itself.
-Does Tom Brady still have the "drive" in him?
My dad brought up a good point yesterday. Yes, Flacco has outplayed Brady in all games they have played. But Brady has been going against the Ravens defense and Flacco has been going against our defense so it's a considerable gap. However, I don't think Brady is as good as we all like to think he is in the post-season. He just has not shown that drive he had shown back when we were winning Superbowls. Now, no hate to Brady. But there are things he can do to keep a play alive. I know he is not a mobile quarterback but there are times when he can in fact run it for a first down but decides to throw only to have the receiver miss the ball. I probably sound crazy and I don't want him to get hurt either but what about his accuracy in big games. He just misses targets a lot now. I still think he has it in him to win another ring and I still think he is the greatest to play the game but he really needs to fix that aspect of h is game.
In the end, I am extremely excited for this off-season because there is a lot of promise going into next season. I'm really looking forward to this draft and hope we can find a speedy WR and a coverage LB. Should be a good off-season.