The post gets to the point of even having room in the stadium to put all the champion banners , is there still motivation for the New England Patriots? After seeing the only quarterback in the division – Ryan Tannehill / Dolphins – with full potential to beat the Patriots at home, is there still motivation for the Patriots? With New York Jets and Buffalo Bills in full swing, still … I think you got me.
In motivational terms, whether in life or in sport, it is easier to get to the top than to stay there. Bill Belichick knows this, and instead of accommodating after being champion once again, the coach and patriotic czar made numerous motivations in the intertemporada. He kept some players, traded for others, hired others. Had everything in Foxboro.
Arrival of Gilmore, Butler’s stay
Malcolm Butler was one of the big stars in Super Bowl XLIX. He was not a starter, he was not drafted , he was freshman. Three years later, he became a restricted free agent. The Patriots managed to keep one of the most important players of their defense and additionally brought a significant boost.
No matter how good the story was, Butler was not there when he faced the best receivers in the league. Eric Rowe also did not go well – their height does not help. At 1.83m, the arrival of Stephon Gilmore supplies this lack in a defense in which the only potential problem is in the pass rush .
Rob Ninkovich retired, Derek Rivers (third-round choice) injured and Kony Ealy was not even close as the Patriots fan hoped. In the case of the latter, remember that Ealy would have been the MVP of Super Bowl 50 if the Panthers had won that game. The point is that since then – whether in Carolina or after being traded to New England – he has not yielded anything. The cut ended up being the best exit. To complicate matters, two of the four leaders in the team’s sacks are no longer at Gillette Stadium in 2017 – Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long.
Pass rush is a concern in New England and this can be felt in a clear setting: matches in which the Patriots are fighting until the end in the last quarter. In the regular season, they will be rare. In the playoffs , that can be tricky. Explain yourself: you do not want an opponent quarterback with time when the rest of your secondary is tired at the end of the matches, will you?
At age 40, no sign of a fall in income for Brady
As said above, what worries in defense is the potential drop in pass rush performance . In the bout, nothing worries too much has been the absence of Julian Edelman, out of season after a knee injury. He had just renewed his contract with the Patriots and the team eventually traded the first-round choice for wide receiver Brandin Cooks – before the Draft.
The exchange came in handy. I do not even say that Belichick thinks the title window is closing – the point is that it lacked an in-depth quality receiver, however good Chris Hogan was last year.
At age 40 in 2017, Tom Brady comes from a season with 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions. But four games less. What will be the impact of a full season on the shoulders of shirt 12? It is the question that lies in the heart of the fans.
What helps – and a lot – is that the New England Patriots calendar is one of the quietest in the NFL this year. Of course, there are tough matches against AFC West. But in the division, anything less than five wins would be a huge estrangement.
HC: Bill Belichick (Season 18)
OC: Josh McDaniels (Season 6) DC: Matt Patricia (Season 6)
Notable picks in the Draft: None (traded 1st round pick for the Saints by Brandin Cooks)
Important additions: CB Stephon Gilmore, WR Brandin Cooks, TE Dwayne Allen, RB Rex Burkhead, DE Lawrence Guy, LB David Harris
Important Exits: CB Logan Ryan, TE Martellus Bennett, DE Chris Long, DE Jabaal Sheard, OT Sebastian Vollmer
Headlines that return:
Attack: QB Tom Brady, WR Julian Edelman (injured, out of season), TE Rob Gronkowski, LT Nate Solder, C David Andrews, WR Chris Hogan, RB James White
Defense: S Devin McCourty, CB Malcolm Butler, LB Dont’a Hightower, DE Alan Branch, S Patrick Chung, DE Trey Flowers
We can talk without too much fear of making mistakes that this Patriots team is the most talented since 2007, when they had an unbeaten campaign (16-0) and fell in the final stretch against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Anyway, the pass rush issue , Brady’s age and Julian Edelman’s injury prevent us from pursuing an undefeated campaign. In fact, even without these problems, this would be difficult. New England beats AFC East with ease and hosts at least one playoff game – being the big favorite to represent the American Conference in Super Bowl LII.