Here we are, it's early July, and the anticipation is building as we approach the final few weeks before training camp begins.
We've already addressed whether or not the Patriots filled their offseason needs. Now, I want to bring it together and ask the question: what are your expectations for the Patriots in 2010?
While I understand that any Patriots team led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will likely have Super Bowl expectations, I want to know what you personally think of this year's team. Do you honestly believe the team will make another run at the Lombardi trophy? Or are you expecting another one and done in the playoffs?
Before I give my expectations for this year's team, I'll advise you that I am an absolute homer. I always think the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl, whether or not the team realistically can.
Regardless, I do expect this team to be better than last year's, regardless of what the prognosticators are saying. Tom Brady is two years removed from his knee injury, the team won the division despite the roster and leadership turnover in 2009, and all of the young players that they drafted in recent years are a year older. In my mind, there's no way, despite the flashy moves the Jets made this offseason, that the Patriots take a step back in 2010. I believe that the team can only move forwards.
That being said, I do believe this team has its issues. Of course, there is the pass rush situation. Will rookie Jermaine Cunningham be ready for a major role in 2010? Can Derrick Burgess develop into more of a traditional 3-4 outside linebacker, and can he continue to improve like he did at the tail end of the 2009 season? Will Tully Banta-Cain have another great season?
Then there's the leadership issue. Will young players step up and take the leadership void left by players such as Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison? Players like Jerod Mayo and Patrick Chung will be key in this area.
I could go on and on with the "issues" this team has. The Tom Brady contract situation, the Logan Mankins contract situation... Every team has its issues.
So now we go to the original question. What are my expectations for this team?
Realistically, this team has a very difficult schedule. So from a record stand point, I think this team could have anywhere from ten to twelve wins. And yes, I certainly believe the Patriots will be in the playoffs. And this time around, I think the team will win at least one playoff game. The general feeling about this quad was very optimistic during the mini-camp season, and I think that optimism will carry over into training camp, the regular season, and eventually the post-season.
While I apologize for being so general in my predictions, I will be releasing much more specific predictions next week, as I am working on a giant post that will contain all of my NFL predictions.
For now, lets hear it: what are your expectations and predictions for the Patriots in 2010?