New England Patriots: Looking Forward

One of the great things about being a fan of the New England Patriots is, when one season ends you always know that next season will be exciting, with  another legitimate chance for the Lombardi Trophy. It’s really a thrill to look forward to what will happen next and have confidence that it all will work out fine.

Just think about it. How many fans of other teams in the NFL can legitimately make that statement? The answer is – zero!

  • The current Super Bowl Champion Bronco’s? Who is the QB again?
  • The runner-up Carolina Panthers? Hell, their fans are thrilled to just make the play-offs. Although they are the favorites going into the year (the Patriots are #2), they have to show they can perform year in and year out.
  • The Green Bay Packers? Close, but no cigar. Last year the were vulnerable all season and are rapidly deteriorating.
  • How about the Pittsburgh Steelers? The fans and former players are still griping about how they were
    Steeler fans are stunned by NE distruction of the Patriots in the 2004 AFC Championship Game - photo sixteensundayscom
    Steeler fans leave the game stunned after Patriots 41-27 blow-out win in 2014 AFC Championship Game (Photo: sixteensundays.com)

    cheated out of a Super Bowl by….the Patriots…in the AFC Championship Game (No, not the Super Bowl)! That was 12 years ago, the Steelers lost 41-27 at home, and they are still crying about it. No looking forward there!

  • Seattle? With Pete Carroll making the final call 2 years ago the fans of the Seahawks were deflated (sorry, had to get that in). Carroll vs Belichick = a no brainer!

There are plenty of other teams that could be part of the conversation, Arizona, KC to name just a couple, but year-after-year, they haven’t proven good enough to carry the banner.

Another Year With The Two B’s

As we look ahead to the 2016 season we are, once again,

New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady celebr
Tom Brady celebrates with Bill Belichick (Photo:  JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

concerned that the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady combination may not be available to start the season thanks to the continued obsession of the NFL and Commissioner Roger “Integrity of the game” Goodell, to punish Brady for a “crime” they haven’t proven ever occurred. I refuse to get into that again other than to say “so what.”

Belichick will be there to start things and Brady will, at some point early in the season, return. With a growing, young defense the team should be just fine and maybe Tom will be better off starting the season a little later (I know that’s heresy), so by the play-offs he won’t be so banged up.

Facts:

  • The offensive line will be better. Hell, it couldn’t be any worse. With the return of Dante Scarnecchia you know they’ll be better prepared. Rookies Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason will be in their second year and know their roll and the speed of the NFL better. Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder should be healthy. The addition of former 1st round pick Jonathan Cooper adds depth they lacked in 2015 when injuries destroyed any chance for consistency.
  • The two TE offense is back! Martellus Bennett is not Scott Chandler in any way, so please stop the comparisons. Provided he doesn’t tick off Belichick with his mouth, Bennett and Rob Gronkowski will ease the pressure on Brady (or Jimmy Garoppolo) and the red-zone offense with those two, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola (maybe), Nate Washington and Chris Hogan will be almost unstoppable.
  • Donta’ Hightower and Jamie Collins (both 26) are just coming into their prime years and are the key cogs in a defense that should be strong despite the loss of Chandler Jones.

2016 Schedule

HOME: BUF, MIA., NYJ, BAL, CIN, LA, SEA, HOU
AWAY: BUF, MIA., NYJ, CLE, PIT, ARI, SF, DEN

Although game dates have not yet been released, there is no reason to believe the Pats won’t have another run at the ring in 2016.. Along with in-conference games against teams that did not make the play-offs last year (J-E-T-S, Dolphins & Bills) they  play the clueless Browns, befuddled 49ers, sliding Ravens and homeless (???) Rams. That leaves Seattle, Houston, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Super Bowl Champion, but QB challenged, Denver as threats to a chance for ring #5 for Tom Brady, the oldest active non-kicker in the NFL.

So, no matter what, the best Head Coach/QB combo in the NFL and the New England Patriots are once again positioning the team for a run at the Lombardi Trophy and fans are having fun analyzing every move they make.

Follow me on twitter @SnowdonBob

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Patriots didn’t need to do much in free agency

Since last Wednesday when NFL free agency, “officially” started, a large majority of Patriots fans have been progressively losing their collective minds. “Why didn’t they get Forte! They need a deep threat! Why isn’t Bill doing anything, I hate that their so cheap they never sign talent!” Those are just some of the statements that have been floated around Patriots Nation over the past half-week, and it truly has become a yearly event during the Bill Belichick era.

Patriots fans should take a page out of Aaron Rodger’s playbook on this one and just, “RELAX”. Not very often does Bill Belichick open up the checkbook and start signing players left and right during free agency like the Miami Dolphins or the Jacksonville Jaguars. Spending big time in free agency isn’t always a good thing. You can look like the Super Bowl champions in March, but then when actual games are played teams start to realize that they have left themselves flawed in other positions.

ESPN stats and information tweeted out a graphic last week in which they showed the teams that have spent the most money over the past ten years. The Miami Dolphins topped the list at 629 million dollars spent over the past ten years, and in those ten years they have only made the playoffs once. Miami was followed in the top six by teams such as Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland.

Even in years when the Patriots have, “spent big” they have still signed players to team friendly deals. Randy Moss was acquired via trade and was basically on a one-year deal, and in 2014 Darrelle Revis was signed also to virtually a one-year contract friendly to the team. They don’t spend, plain and simple and they continuously are in the AFC Championship.

The crazy thing about Patriots fans clambering for moves right now is that a month ago when the season ended, fans were pretty content with the roster. The only important player that had a contract that was up is Akiem Hicks (signed with Chicago). The defense is young, and besides a solid second corner there really aren’t any positions of need on that side of the ball. On offense, the offensive line could use some depth but that wasn’t expected to be addressed in free agency, but more than likely in the draft. A running back and wide receiver were needed.

The team addressed the wide receiver spot with Chris Hogan out of Buffalo. As a Patriots fan I am content with that signing. I understand that Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu are more flashy names that would have been better additions, but for the money they received it wouldn’t have been logically to pay them that highly to be a third option. Chris Hogan is more than capable of doing what Brandon LaFell did in 2014, and that is all the team needs him to do.

At running back I can understand the frustration because they so desperately need a back who can consistently carry the ball. Matt Forte however didn’t seem to be a fit. Sure he can run the ball, but he is more known as a pass catching back, and the Patriots already have their fair share of those with Dion Lewis and James White. Many don’t think Dion Lewis will come back and be the same player, and I find that to be a bit ludicrous. ACL tears are not as serious as they once were.

We have seen the likes of Adrian Peterson and Rob Gronkowski come back and be very productive the following seasons. I am setting the bar high for Lewis coming back. Again, the draft may be a better option for running back. Derrick Henry is the name that has been floated around the most. He is a big, “bell cow back” that can be developed and be exactly what they need. Just brining back LeGarrette Blount is not the answer.

The Patriots right now as currently constituted still makes them the best team in the AFC, especially with Martavis Bryant of Pittsburgh being suspended for all of next season. The Patriots defense is getting to the point where they are almost on par with the Patriots offense, which could make them dangerous. Therefore, staying put may not have been the worst thing through the first wave of free agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draft Journey With Justin Simmons

On Friday afternoon I spoke with Boston College defensive back and 2016 NFL Draft prospect, Justin Simmons. We spoke about the combine in which he impressed greatly, as well as the draft process and what he hopes to accomplish going forward. Here is a synopsis of our conversation:

Q: So we are a few days removed here from the combine where you impressed. You placed first among defensive backs in the three-cone drill. How do you feel you handle the whirlwind that is the NFL Combine?

A: I thought the combine went well and that I handled everything pretty well. A lot was thrown at us but it was a great experience to go through. A couple of my times were a bit slower than when I had trained, so I am going to focus on improving those times.

Q: Draft prospects train so hard and long for the combine, and it is mostly drills that a lot of fans and media feel aren’t all that relevant in determining a football player’s talent. Do you feel as if you benefit in training for drills like the three-cone, broad jump, and the 40-yard dash?

A: Training for the combine is definitely different from regular football training. When you train in regular football training and you get an injury, you try and fight through it. You put it all on the line. When you train for the combine, and you get a bump or bruise you focus more on healing. You have to make sure you are at full strength. Drills like the three-cone are real helpful especially as a defensive back because it is so focused on cutting and turning your hips.

Q: Now that the combine has passed what is your focus on now? Pro Day?

A: Yeah definitely, all about the pro day. I mainly want to focus on my position drills for my pro day. I want to make sure I show my fluidity in my hips and things like that.

Q: When someone watches your tape they quickly realize that you’re a, “ball hawk.” Anytime the ball is in the air your always in the area. Is that your main goal as a defensive back to always be around the ball?

A: Yeah anytime your out there on defense your trying to make a big play. If your team or teammate doesn’t seem up, you want to try and bring a big play to get everyone into it. Anytime you can do that it’s huge for a defense.

simmons pick.gif

(GIF credit to draftbreakdown.com and Steelersdepot.com)

Q: A lot of coaches and scouts look for versatility in a defensive back at the pro level? Do you think you can provide that?

A: Yeah throughout my time at Boston College I played all around. I played strong, free, and down in the nickel position. Any way I can help my team I am willing to do it.

justin

(GIF credit to draftbreakdown.com and steelersdepot.com)

Q: You played with guys at Boston College who are in the NFL now, and you are going through this draft process with guys who are hoping to make it with you. Do you lean on each other and have you reached out to any of the guys now in the league?

A: Yeah we all lean on each other, we are all working out together and trying to make each other better players. Guys like Connor (Wujciak), and Steve (Daniels), we are all pushing to make each other better. Guys in the league are always there for us, you know Andre Williams, guys like that are always there when you need them.

Q: Last question here, when an NFL team drafts Justin Simmons, what will they be getting?

A: Definitely a guy with high character, high effort, who loves the game of football. I always love to be prepared. I never want to be out on the field if I don’t know what to expect. I study the ins and outs of the game. I am always prepared, and try to be in the right place at the right time. Also, I like to think I am a very tough individual, and I am an extremely competitive person. I always have thought of myself as an underdog, and I like to carry myself with that chip on my shoulder.

At 6-3, 202 pounds, Justin Simmons has the build and without a doubt the athleticism to be a top-notch NFL defensive back. After speaking with him I also learned that he also carries himself as a true professional who is training and ready to take the next step.

Keep checking back as we will update Justin’s progress after his Pro day. (Ed.)