2017 has been a very good year for the New England Patriots. The team won its fifth Super Bowl in February, added considerable talent in the months that followed and ultimately continued its domination of the AFC East through December. In order to keep all the success going in 2018, the team has to stay on the course it set on during the regular season – and also try to follow through on our five New Year's Resolutions:
Improve the protection for Tom Brady
Even at age 40, Tom Brady is still the NFL's best quarterback. To ensure that his unprecedented run of excellence keeps going in 2018 (and ideally beyond), the Patriots need to make sure that the future Hall of Famer is properly protected. This has not always been the case this season, so moving forward the young offensive line needs to improve its pass blocking and communication and simply has to perform more consistently.
Draft a developmental quarterback
Bold take: Brian Hoyer is not the Patriots' future at the quarterback position. With Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco, the veteran simply serves as a stop-gap solution behind Brady until a new number two is added. The best course of action for New England appears to be doing just that in 2018 in order to have enough time to develop the player. While the upcoming quarterback draft class lacks clear-cut top-end talent, it is deep in the middle – and the Patriots should take advantage.
Extend the core players up for new contracts
When the 2018 NFL league year starts in March, some key pieces of the Patriots' current roster are up for free agency: Offensive tackle Nate Solder, wide receiver Danny Amendola, running backs Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, cornerback Malcolm Butler and core special teamers Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner are all among the players up for new contracts. New England has to find a way to keep most of them around.
Prepare for personnel changes
Two of New England's coordinators are in high demand these days: Multiple teams with openings at the head coaching position have requested interviews with the offense's Josh McDaniels and the defense's Matt Patricia, and there is a very real chance that one or both leave. Add the potential fallout from a) fellow assistants leaving with them and b) Nick Caserio a hot name on the general manager market, and New England's staff might look drastically different in a few months. Bill Belichick as the quasi head of football operations needs to have multiple succession plans in place.
Win Super Bowl LII
The ultimate goal each season is to win the Super Bowl, so of course this one has to be on the Patriots' resolutions list as well. Entering the year and the playoffs, New Englan – as the AFC's number one seed – is in as good a shape as any of the remaining 12 teams. Now all that is left is for the team to stay focused, tackle one game at a time and simply do its job. The rest should then take care of itself as another Lombardi Trophy might find its way to Foxboro.