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: 12-4

Offense: 374.4 YPG (6th), 29.1 PPG (3rd)

Defense: 339.4 YPG (9th), 19.7 (10th)

The Patriots were Super Bowl contenders in 2015. They missed a 2-point conversion which could have potentially brought them back to the Super Bowl. Despite massive injuries and horrid pass protection, Tom Brady was as good as ever showing why he is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, quarterback of all time. Despite injuries to the offensive line, Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis and others, the Pats nearly averaged 30 points per game and were one of the league’s elite offenses. It simply didn’t matter who got hurt because number 12 never did. Defensively, the Patriots weren’t great but they were good. Ultimately, their decimated offensive line was just no match for the great pass rush of the Broncos. With better health, New England could have easily won a second consecutive Super Bowl.

Offseason: 

Key Acquisitions: WR. Chris Hogan, TE. Martellus Bennett, OG. Jonathan Cooper, LB. Shea McClellin, DT. Terrance Knighton, DE. Chris Long

Key Loses: DT. Dominique Easley, WR. Brandon LaFell. LB. Jerod Mayo

2016 Draft Picks

RD(PK) PLAYER POS SCHOOL
2(29) Cyrus Jones CB Alabama
3(15) Joe Thuney OG North Carolina State
3(28) Jacoby Brissett QB North Carolina State
3(33) Vincent Valentine DT Nebraska
4(14) Malcolm Mitchell WR Georgia
6(33) Kamu Grugier-Hill CB Eastern Illinois
6(39) Elandon Roberts ILB Houston
6(46) Ted Karras OG Illinois
7(4) Devin Lucien WR Arizona State

2016 Outlook

Coaching Staff

HC: Bill Belichick

OC: Josh McDaniels

DC: Matt Patricia

ST: Joe Judge

Projected Depth Chart

Offense

QB. Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo

RB. Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount

WR. Julian Edelman, Nate Washinton

WR. Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell

WR. Chris Hogan

TE. Rob Gronkowski, Bryce Williams

TE. Martellus Bennett, AJ Derby

LT. Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon

LG. Shaquille Mason, Joe Thuney

C. Bryan Stork, David Andrews

RG. Jonathan Cooper, Tre Jackson

RT. Sebastian Vollmer, LaAdrian Waddle

Defense

DE. Jabaal Sheard, Chris Long

DT. Terrance Knighton, Joe Vellano

DT. Malcom Brown, Alan Branch

DE. Rob Ninkovich, Trey Flowers

OLB. Jamie Collins, Rufus Johnson

MLB. Dont’a Hightower, Jonathan Freeny

OLB. Shea McClellin, Kevin Synder

CB. Malcolm Butler, Justin Coleman

SS. Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

FS. Devin McCourty, Jordan Richards

CB. Logan Ryan, Darryl Roberts

NB. Cyrus Jones

Special Teams

K. Stephen Gostkowski

P. Ryan Allen

Breakdown

Offense: 

Brady will miss the first four games of the season but it won’ t matter because we all know he’s going to dominate the minute he gets back. In the meantime, we’ll get to see my favorite QB from the 2014 draft class, Jimmy Garoppolo. I expect him to play well in Brady’s absence. The Patriots will look to recreate the success they had a few years ago with the double tight end sets back before Aaron Hernandez ….. well we won’t get into that.

Anyway, Rob Gronkowski is the star of the barrage of weapons Brady has to work with and the best TE in the NFL. The Pats added another talented tight end in Martellus Bennett to the mix to pair with Gronk.  At receiver, the Pats still lack a true deep threat but Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are still two of the best pure route runners and possession receivers in the NFL. Chris Hogan was also added to the receiving core.

At running back, Pats fans and coaching staff are foaming at the mouth for a full season of Dion Lewis after what he showed in a small sample size before getting hurt a year ago. They also have the big hammer that is LeGarrette Blount in the mix at RB.

“Can the Patriots protect better in 2016?”, will be one of the biggest questions entering this year for the Pats. The answer is simple. If they have better luck avoiding injuries, absolutely. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer are one of the better tackle duos in the league when healthy. At guard, there is a lot of potential but it’s unproven. Left guard Shaq Mason showed some good things in his rookie season last year but the 4th-rounder still needs to show more and be more consistent. At right guard, Jonathan Cooper was thought to be a stud coming out of college but his career has been plagued by one injury after another since being picked and we simply don’t know what he can do on the NFL level.

Due to all the injuries, one of the Pats better and most consistent performers on the offensive line a year ago was sophomore center Bryan Stork, who looks to play even better in his third year. Overall, Brady proved last year he doesn’t even need an O-line to be great. They will need to play a lot better to help Garoppolo out through the first four games but once Brady returns, it won’t matter. All will be well and right with the Patriots offense.

Defense: 

Defensively, there is no reason why the Pats can’t do what they did last year. They don’t quite have the pieces to be elite but they can still be really good. The defensive line has some question marks but there is potential there. It all starts with defensive end Jabaal Sheard. He was a stud player last year for the Pats and one of the reasons they felt comfortable letting Chandler Jones go. At the other end, we’ll most likely see a combination of Rob Ninkovich and free agent pick-up Chris Long.

The interior is where the real question lies. Their 2015 first round pick Malcolm Brown looks to be the top guy in the middle. He had a decent rookie year and will look to hopefully take it up another notch in his second year. Veteran run stopper Terrance Knighton will fill the other defensive tackle spot but one has to wonder how much he has left in the tank. The best of the Patriots defense is their linebacker core, featuring two elite players in Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower.

Free agent acquisition Shea McClellin looks to take over the third starting spot. He had the best season of his career last season and can play both as an edge backer or off line backer. The secondary is also very strong. Both Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan thrived in their first seasons as the primary starters. The safety duo of Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty is also one of the best in the league.

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