I love my New England Patriots just as much as anyone. I will, on many occasions, dive into the Homerism Abyss and roll around in my championship jerseys just like the next fan (oh, you don't do that? Oops...). However, I will also be inclined to point out problems, too. This is not one of those times. I am blindly (well, peeking out the bottom of the blindfold) diving into the abyss and telling you this:
The 2009 New England Patriots will be better than the 2007 New England Patriots.
To start, take a moment to read through Bleacher Report's Tom Brady: Like A Kid In a Candy Store With Sweet Offensive Weapons. The author does a nice job of running through the new "toys on the roster". I'll wait... All set? Cool, let's get to why I'm so up on this roster.
Tom Brady's return
This is a little obvious, I know. But I didn't put it on this list just because of Tom's obvious talents on the gridiron. Brady is a team leader and, as such, sets the tone for his teammates. By all accounts, Brady is fired up:
So, this year if I hear [the Pats have] two-a-day practices? Great! Let's have three. Whatever you say, Coach. You need something from the players? Let me know, and I'll do what I can to get the players to do it.
Randy Moss and Wes Welker, also team leaders, have responded in kind saying, and I quote, "The sky is the limit." Leaders set the tone and that's what Brady is doing, simply by being on the field.
Both Randy Moss and Wes Welker have stated they feel they're better than they were in '07. This from Wes:
I feel we've gotten better,'' he said. "Back in '07, Randy and I were in our first year here, and I don't know about Randy, but I was worried about where the hell I was supposed to line up a lot of that season.
Uhh...Wes? You tied for the lead with 112 receptions and you were worried about where you were lining up? Oh boy. And Randy Moss will be Randy Moss. All last year, I maintained Moss' drop in numbers was due to a) Cassel never developing a relationship and long ball with Randy and b) using Moss the wrong way (remember the shivers you got when the lanky Moss turned inside 10 yards up the field?). Brady knows Moss better than anyone and, more accurately, knows where to put the ball so only Moss can get to it.
Joey Galloway might be a wildcard for me. However, I see his role as, "Look at me!! Look at me!!" and then throwing it to Moss. Once they get used to that, throw it to Galloway. Even at 38, the guy's running a 4.4!
Greg Lewis is a Stallworth/Gaffney replacement, comfortable in the slot and midfield. He'll be an interesting prospect to watch given he's 6-0 vs. Welker's 5-9. Welker underneath, Lewis midfield, and Moss downfield could be a potent combination.
Julian Edelman seems to be an interesting prospect. The media is continuously saying good things about him as he makes the switch from QB to WR and return man. Belichick LOVES versatility and this kid has it.
Laurence Maroney is fired up to prove himself. After keeping quiet about a broken bone in his shoulder and taking more crap than he deserved, he's ready to knock that chip off of his shoulder. And with Fredy Taylor aboard as a mentor, I think Maroney is going to have a huge year. Everyone who says the Colts got the better end of the bargain when they drafted Addai will be eating their words.
Speaking of Fred Taylor, anyone who discounts him will be licking their wounds. Taylor is, in my opinion, a more explosive runner than the other guys and has an afterburner when he breaks through the linebackers. I've also seen him flatten DBs who get in his way.
Sammy Morris has been one of my favorite Patriots since he joined the squad. He can be counted on to get yardage when needed. Add in third down guru Kevin Faulk and you have a very potent backfield. I almost forgot BenJarvus Green-Ellis for depth and offensive-linemen-turned-fullback, the 6-4 305 pound Russ Hochstein.
Laurence will get the most snaps of the crew, but this is a backfield by committee. If "Fast Freddy" is a better fit for a certain package, he'll be in. Forget the term starter or #1 back.
11 out of 13 offensive linemen are playing for contracts this year. That translates to wanting to impress. Not making the playoffs in 2008 has its ups and downs, but one of the ups is more rest than in many seasons past. Remember the OL at 2008 OTAs and training camp? If they were there at all, they looked like the walking wounded. That's what you get for being one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NFL.
What do a rested offensive line, a better backfield than '07, a varied and talented WR corp, and Tom Brady mean to the rest of the NFL? A lot of these moments for our rivals:
So sad. Our New England Patriots are going to embark on a scorched earth policy and this time, take it to the bank with a fourth Lombardi. Belichick is THE smartest and best coach in the business. The collection of vets and rookies is one of the best I've seen in years and our draft was regarded as one of the best around. Get ready for some football.
- Brady will throw 45+ touchdowns
- Moss will catch 20+ TD passes
- Maroney will have a 1,000+ yard year
- Welker will, AGAIN, be in the top three for receptions, third year in a row
- Sacks allowed will be in the three lowest in the league