UA-59049186-1 NFL Team Preview: New England Patriots - Good if it Goes

NFL Team Preview: New England Patriots

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Last Year:

Record: 14-2

Offense: 27.6 ppg (3rd)

Defense: 15.6 pa (1st)

Offseason: 

Key Acquisitions: WR. Brandin Cooks, TE. Dwyane Allen, DE. Kony Ealy, LB. David Harris, CB. Stephon Gillmore

Key Losses: RB. LeGarrette Blount, TE. Martellus Bennett, DE. Jabaal Sheard, DE. Chris Long, LB. Rob Ninkovich, CB. Logan Ryan

2017 Draft Picks

2017 Outlook 

Coaching Staff

  • HC: Bill Belichick
  • OC: Josh McDaniels
  • DC: Matt Patricia
  • ST: Joe Judge

Offense

QB. Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo

RB. Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead

RB. James White, Brandon Bolden

WR. Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola

WR. Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell

WR. Julian Edelman

TE. Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen

LT. Nate Solder, LaAdrian Waddle

LG. Joe Thuney, Jamil Douglas

C. David Andrews, Ted Karras

RG. Shaq Mason, Ted Karras

RT. Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming

Defense

DE. Kony Ealy, Geneo Grissom

DT. Alan Branch, Lawrence Guy

DT. Malcom Brown, Vincent Valentine

DE. Trey Flowers, Derek Rivers

SLB. Dont’a Hightower, Shea McClellin

MLB. David Harris, Kyle Van Noy

WLB. Jonathan Freeny, Derek Rivers

CB. Malcolm Butler, Cyrus Jones

SS. Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards

FS. Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon

CB. Stephon Gillmore, Justin Coleman

NB. Eric Rowe

Specialists

K. Stephen Gostkowski

P. Ryan Allen

 Breakdown

Offense:

The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champs and come into the 2017 season as the overwhelming favorite to win the Super Bowl again. And they should be, and in large part because they have the best offense in the NFL. It all starts with the greatest quarterback of all-time Tom Brady. Tom Brady had one of the best seasons of his career at age 39 last season and shows no signs of slowing down now at age 40. He still has a lightning quick release, legendary football IQ, and unbelievable work ethic. One of the reasons Brady should be fine even at age 40 is because he will be well protected by one of the better offensive line’s in the NFL. The Pats have one of the best tackle duos in the league in Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon. Solder is their veteran left tackle and longest tenured member of the O-line. He’s an all-around tackle that blocks well in both phases. Cannon was the best lineman on the team and the best right tackle in the NFL last season. He is a terrific pass blocker and a mauling run blocker. Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney are the guards. Mason had a breakout year in his second season and now looks like one of the best young guards in the league. Thuney was the team’s third round pick last season and was the weak link of the group last season but I expect him to play a lot better in year two the way Mason did, who also struggled in his rookie season. David Andrews is the center and he was an undrafted free agent in 2015 who has worked hard to develop into a solid center.  The Patriots have the best group of receivers in the NFL. The main guy is tight end Rob Gronkowski who is the best tight end in the NFL. Sure he has had issues staying healthy throughout his career but when healthy he is an all-time great player who cannot be stopped. One of the big offseason acquisitions for the Patriots was former Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks who is a big time burner that can stretch the field and give the Patriots offense a new dimension they have not had since Randy Moss left. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan will be the other receivers. Edelman is an elite slot receiver and Chris Hogan is a really solid secondary starting option. The Pats also picked up tight end Dwayne Allen in a trade with the Colts who will be good for them in two-tight sets and is a starting quality tight end that can handle things solo if Gronk gets hurt again. The Patriots may not have an elite running back but they have a stable of four backs that can all contribute in a variety of ways. James White, who was electric both as a receiver and runner in the Super Bowl, and Dion Lewis, who is one of the most elusive runners in the league figure to get the majority of the snaps but offseason additions Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee will also get touches. Overall The Pats are loaded with play makers, have a solid offensive line, and have the game’s greatest QB. It all adds up to another high scoring season for this offense.

Defense:

The Patriots last season lead the entire NFL in points allowed per game. Their regular season schedule ended up being a little soft last year and they may not be able to pull that off again this season but this should still be a really good defense in 2017. There is no elite player on the defensive line based on what they have done so far in their careers, but there are some young guys on that group who have the potential to be. One of those guys is defensive end Kony Ealy who the Patriots traded for from the Panthers. He has never been a full time starter but has shown flashes throughout his three year career so far and has racked up 14 sacks in 15 starts up to this point. He has real potential as a pass rusher but has to get better vs the run to stay on the field more. Trey Flowers, the team’s fourth round pick in 2015, had a coming out season in 2016. He had seven sacks and was fantastic in the playoffs. I am expecting him to be even better in his third season. The Pats do not have much pass rushing fire power coming from the interior but they do have two really good run stopping defensive tackles in Malcom Brown and Alan Branch. One of the biggest moves made by the Patriots was simply resigning linebacker Donta Hightower who was heavily pursued by other teams. Hightower has been one of the best linebackers in the NFL pretty much since he entered the league. The Patriots also signed former Jets linebacker David Harris to be the man in the middle. Harris is one of the smarter linebackers in the league and though he will not wow you with many spectacular sideline to sideline tackles or burst through the line of scrimmage he will be in the right positions and is good in zone coverage. This will be Jonathan Freeny’s third season with the Patriots and he has started here and there due to injury over the past two seasons but this year comes into camp for the first time as a projected starter at the weakside linebacker spot. The Pats are loaded in the secondary. Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore are one of the most talented corner duos in the NFL. Butler has been terrific ever since he intercepted that pass in the end zone to help them win a Super Bowl. Gilmore comes over from the Bills and was the top free agent corner on the market. He made his first pro bowl in 2016 and his skill set fits what the Patriots want to do on defense. Eric Rowe will be the nickel corner. He was drafted by the Eagles in the second round in 2015 but the Patriots traded for him at beginning of last season and he turned out to be a good pickup for them. He is capable of playing inside or out and should be even better in his third season. The Patriots have a deep and experienced group of safeties led by Devin McCourty who is literally one of the top three coverage safeties in the NFL like every season. Patrick Chung will be the strong safety and though his play dipped from the high level he played at in 2014 and 15 he is still a productive player and is good at using his instincts and knowing where to be. Overall just how well the Pats defense ultimately ends up being will largely depend on just how well and consistently their young ends Ealy and Flowers play. However, even if both players do not play any better than they have in the past the Patriots would still be a good defense due to just a strong secondary and smart linebacker play. They will be tough to run on, tough to throw on, tough to score on.

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