Get Social With PatsFans.com:

Fresh Faced New England Patriots Offense: Who Will Make An Impact?

Every summer, before the start of the regular season, rookies and veterans alike fight for a spot on an NFL 53 man roster. From drills to walk-throughs, every player is searching for a way to stand out and show that they know their stuff. As we’ve seen in the past, it doesn’t take long for a player in the Patriots system to be weened out because they don’t know the playbook. This year, after some big offseason losses, the Pats clearly have their work cut out for them and this coaching staff has the difficult job of determining which players are up for the challenge.


Danny Amendola won’t be the only new Patriot making an impact this season.(FILE:USPresswire)

A few players many expect to make an impact offensively are Danny Amendola, aka the Wes Welker replacement, and Aaron Dobson, the high flying rookie from Marshall with solid hands. The Patriots have needed a receiver to stretch the field for them and if Dobson can continue to have a good camp, he could very well get the starting job. And with Amendola, the Patriots like to play that short pass game and make a slow, yet effective, drive downfield and that is where he fits in. It’s very easy to key players into certain roles before camp breaks but before you go setting your fantasy roster, here are a few offensive guys to keep an eye on:

Josh Boyce: The 5’11″ rookie out of TCU poses an interesting option for the Patriots. Not the tallest guy on the field, they had him lining up with Amendola during practice. He gives the Patriots another option at that slot position and was getting some first team reps this week during training camp. The Pats are known for giving their rookies a chance and as long as Boyce can gain some of Tom Brady’s confidence, I suspect he will have an impact on the team this season.

Kenbrell Thompkins: An undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati, the 6’1″ wide receiver has had an outstanding camp. He has big hands and was also getting some first team reps. Not only is he playing with the offense during camp but he is also taking some reps on special teams with kickoff returns. Another option for Brady perhaps? With only two players on the current roster who’ve caught a pass from Brady, I’d say anybody he connects with during camp stands a real chance at becoming a target this season.

Leon Washington: Finally, the Patriots have a player who can specialize in the return game. It seems like it’s been years since there was any consistency at this position. Washington comes into his eighth season having split time between the New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks. He’s returned 244 career kickoffs, 8 of which went the distance. He has tremendous speed and his height of only 5’8″ will benefit him when he’s trying to weave his way around defenders. The key will be staying healthy and keeping the ball moving forward. As long as there are no stutter steps or second guessing, his impact on the team this season will be widespread.

The loss of Welker and Danny Woodhead had a significant impact on the Patriots offense and seemed to leave the team with more questions than answers. However, with the fresh faces in camp, it’s now up to Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to create a dynamic plan that will utilize these new talents.

We saw a more balanced offense last season and with the parts they have right now, it seems like they’re headed in that direction again. The mix of veteran and rookie talent bodes well for the Pats and come September I think we’ll be surprised as to who is making the biggest impact offensively.

In Bill We Trust? Who’s To Blame For Missed Red Flags

Since becoming the head coach of the Patriots in 2000, the only red flag Bill Belichick has had to worry about is the challenge flag he keeps in his sock. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, a different type of red flag has been waving around the Patriots. Ever since tight end Aaron Hernandez was labeled a person of interest in the death of Odin Lloyd on June 17, reports about previous incidents he may or may not have been involved in have been popping up. Now that he has been charged with first degree murder, the questions turn to Belicick and the initial move to draft Hernandez, did he miss the warning signs?


Bill Belichick brought Aaron Hernandez to the Patriots and now the question is, did he do his homework? (FILE:USPresswire)

Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN wrote an article that takes a look at the “ties that bind” Hernandez and Lloyd. She starts by diving into the past of Hernandez. It appears that the former hometown hero really took a turn for the worst when his father unexpectedly died when he was just 16 years old. Then instead of going to UConn, he packed up and shipped down to Florida and as we’ve come to learn, his trouble in Florida started from the beginning.

In September of 2007, two men were injured when their car was fired upon while parked at a red light just blocks away from a nightclub they had just left. Massachusetts police officers are reportedly investigating whether or not Hernandez was involved. According to the report, Hernandez did not speak with investigators after the shooting because he invoked his right to counsel.

That is just the latest report of Hernandez’s potential involved in a violent altercation. He also apparently punched a bouncer in the head, bursting his eardrum according to a Gainesville police report. And more recently, in April, police responded to a domestic disturbance at his Hermosa Beach home after his fiancee called and reported he had punched his first through a window and sliced his hand. Police had also been there a year before but his fiancee didn’t press charges. It seems as though the police were familiar with the home according to TMZ who reported that police had responded to the home multiple times before the April incident for noise violations that Hernandez apparently had no regard for.

All these reports and allegations boil down to the fact that somebody missed something. It has always appeared from the outside that the way the Patriots run their organization leaves no room for errors. They run a tight ship and every player, coach and staff member is either on board or let go. This obviously wasn’t the case with Hernandez. With each new allegation that surfaces, there is a police report to go along with it. Did Belichick just “ignore the noise” and trust Hernandez had moved on? Every person is entitled to a fresh start, but the way Hernandez was conducting himself off the field, even after he signed as a Patriot, shows he never really changed.

As time goes on, former teammates are also coming out against the former tight end. Apparently he was more or less a “loner” off the field. Teammates didn’t see him outside of the stadium as he continued to hang around with the crowd he grew up with in Bristol, Connecticut. Nobody ever said you had to be best friends with your teammates, but it’s good practice to at least spend some time together off the field.

So who dropped the ball? Did it start from the beginning with Urban Meyer at Florida or did Belichick just take on a risk that was bigger than he anticipated? Hindsight is 20/20 and now it seems there was a lot of documentation about Hernandez that somebody didn’t read. This whole experience has been eye opening for the NFL and should serve as a wake-up call. Before you take that risk, do your homework, check the facts and make sure you’re only taking on what you can handle.

With Aaron Hernandez Arrest, ‘Patriots Way’ Questioned

In the month of June the Patriots have found themselves at the center of a media circus. First it was for the signing of Tim Tebow, and now it is because Aaron Hernandez has been arrested and charged with first degree murder and five weapons charges. This comes after a nine-day investigation centering around the tight end and his involvement in the murder of Odin Lloyd, a 27 year old former member of the Boston Bandits. The two were seen at a nightclub together hours before Lloyd’s body was found roughly a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleboro home. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.


Charged with murder, it’s unclear when and if Aaron Hernandez will take the field again. (FILE:USPresswire)

Hernandez was first named as a person of interest early last week and after initially cooperating with authorities, he went quiet. It came out that he had a cleaning crew come to his home Monday morning and he also smashed his security system and his cell phone before investigators could get to it. Shortly after his arrest on Wednesday he was released by the Patriots. In a statement the team said, “We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”

With Hernandez in jail until his next day in court on July 24 for a probable cause hearing, the Patriots are cut short a big chunk of change. Hernandez will account for just about $5 million of this year’s cap hit and $7.5 million in 2014. This comes from the seven year, $41 million contract extension he was awarded before the start of last season. It seemed as if his troublesome ways were behind him and the Patriots took a chance and paid out big. After he received his extension he acknowledged that he had grown up and it seemed as if he had converted to the “Patriot way”.

How quickly things have changed. Less than a year after he signed that major deal, Hernandez’s actions have created more questions than answers. With just under a month until the Patriots open up training camp on July 25, the team has quickly gone from a two tight end set, to a no tight end set. Rob Gronkowkski had surgery on not only his forearm, but also his back this off season and Hernandez was expected to carry the load while he recovered. Now with his release, it’s unclear how the Patriots will adjust the offense.

This case has also called into question the famed “Patriot way”. The Patriots are known for picking character guys who can come in and help bring this franchise a championship. Now it seems as though the Patriots are rewarding players who do not fit that mold. While Hernandez got rich, Wes Welker got the franchise tag. Instead of paying a player who came into New England and did nothing but work hard and walk the line, they let him go as if he was yesterday’s news. Is this because Hernandez was a Patriots product? Were the Patriots looking to show the league that they were able to transform a player who had baggage coming out of college? Whatever the reason, it didn’t work. Reports have surfaced that Hernandez only got more brazen after he inked his new deal. His teammates have spoken about the crowd of people who he chose to hang around with and his lack of comradery with his team. Some have said he never really grew up and never adopted the Patriot way and it isn’t clear why he was rewarded so handsomely.

The Patriots have now found themselves lighter in the wallet and the talk of the NFL. They need to reevaluate the “Patriot way” and from here on out, they should really think twice before they reward a young player again. Hopefully the rest of the league can learn from this and see that while it’s good to take a chance on a guy, know your facts before you pay him the big bucks. It seems like the writing was on the wall with Hernandez and now he’ll have to sit in a Bristol County jail awaiting an uncertain future.

To Belichick It’s About the Player Not The Position

We are one week into Tebow mania and Bill Belichick hasn’t surprised anyone by remaining tight lipped. His first press conference after Tim Tebow was signed involved a lot of “we will do what is best for the team” and “I already answered that” responses. We’ve come to expect this from the man in the hoodie and we’ve also come to expect that he will use players in a way most other coaches wouldn’t.

Three years ago, now Patriots offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, was the head coach of the Denver Broncos. He drafted the highly publicized Florida quarterback and the phrase “Tebow Time” was born. Three years later, McDaniels’ first round draft pick is back in his system. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Patriots fans. After a few rough patches both in Denver and New York, Tebow now finds himself in an organization that has a proven track record of taking the idea of “position” and throwing it out the window. Tebow has been vocal about wanting to be a quarterback in the NFL, but his agreement to come to New England, where Tom Brady reigns supreme and Ryan Mallett is the heir apparent, says differently.


A former quarterback, Julian Edelman is just one of the many players Bill Belichick has converted. (FILE:USPresswire)

For years, Belichick has shown that just because your name has “QB” or some other position next to it on the roster, that doesn’t mean that’s where you’ll play. He will find out what you can do and where you’ll have the biggest impact on the team, and put you there. Look no further than Julian Edelman. The once Kent State quarterback is now a likely candidate to fill in the hole that Wes Welker left at slot receiver. Not only that, he’s also taken some reps as a defensive back and he’s returned the ball 72 times for the Patriots since he joined the team in 2009.

Looking back a few years, linebacker Mike Vrabel had 9 touchdowns with the Patriots from 2002 to 2007. Belichick would put him on the line and opposing teams wouldn’t know what was coming. It was a sneaky move that worked because who would think a linebacker would be the intended target on a goal line situation.

Then there’s Troy Brown, who became just as valuable on defense as he was on offense. The wide receiver, punt returner and defensive back did it all. As Belichick has said “if there was a job to do, Troy embraced it and did it at a championship level.” Over the course of his 15 season career, the Patriots Hall of Famer had 557 receptions, which puts him second in the Patriots history book and he’s the Patriots all time leader with 252 career punt returns. Not to mention those three interceptions he had back in 2004. Edelman, Vrabel and Brown are just a small sampling of what Belichick has been able to do with players over the years.

With Tebow, we can expect more of the same. The reason why he is in New England is because Belichick saw something in him. He has no guaranteed money on his contract which is good because we’ve seen big names (Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth) come in here before, fail, and take money with them. Tebow will be different though simply because of his attitude. He is obviously a very religious man and he has shown that he is a winner. If Belichick can find a way to use him outside of the quarterback position, this experiment will be a success. He’s a big guy at 6’3″, 236 pounds and could very well find himself in a tight end type position. With Rob Gronkowski scheduled to have back surgery this upcoming week, the Patriots will have a hole to fill to start the season. That’s not to say Tebow will replace the Gronk because no one can do that, it’s just to say Tebow is a big body who if taught the ways of the system, could be a temporary substitute. We’ll find out very quickly how high his football IQ is because guys who can’t grasp the system, don’t last long in New England.

Tebow is about to find out that it’s about his skill as a player, not his ability at any particular position. Over the course of the next few months we’ll see just how capable Belichick is and with any luck, Tebow will show that he’s a better player than most give him credit for.

For Patriots Fans, Life Is Definitely Good Here in New England

Ever since 1994, the Patriots have been the franchise to watch. That year Robert Kraft took over the team and this town immediately got behind him. After the finalization of the sale on February 26, 1994, Pats fans bought 5,968 season tickets, which is a Patriots single-day sales record. It’s as if fans knew that as soon as Kraft took over, this team would be on the rise.


Ever since he took over the head coaching duties in 2000, Bill Belichick has brought winning ways to Foxboro. (FILE:USPresswire)

It didn’t take Kraft long to get the ball moving. In 2000, Bill Belichick came back to Foxboro following a short stint in 1996 as the assistant head coach and secondary coach. This time around, it was his team, his rules, as Kraft appointed him the head coach. He drafted a Michigan quarterback named Tom Brady that year and little did we know how much he would change this franchise in just a matter of two years. All it took was an injury to starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe and Brady was given his shot. As it turned out that’s all he needed because once he game into the game, he never left.

In 2001, after the infamous “tuck rule” game against Oakland, Brady found himself in the AFC Championship game against the ever popular Pittsburgh Steelers. During that game he injured his ankle and was relieved by Bledsoe but that was short lived as he was healthy enough to come back and lead his team to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI. He was named the MVP and was at the time, the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. Talk about an impressive season. From backup to Super Bowl MVP, Brady showed his worth to his team and his town.

These days we are used to seeing players have outstanding seasons only to fall off the next year and then fade into the darkness. Luckily for Patriots fans, that’s far from the case with Brady. After his impressive performance in 2001, he came back to win it all again just two seasons later, and then again in 2004. Brady certainly has cemented his name among the greats like Joe Montana and John Elway and it’s become pretty clear, this sixth round pick turned out to be a pretty good one for the Patriots.

While Brady has been busy carrying this team on his back for the past 12 seasons, Kraft has been carrying the franchise, and at times, the league. We all remember preparing for a season without football as the lockout closed in on the start of the NFL season in 2011. But fortunately, it never came to that. Why? A big reason is because of the work done by Kraft. Even while his wife Myra was suffering and battling cancer, she was encouraging him to get a deal done. It can be argued that no one worked harder than Kraft to get the season underway. He was seen at all the meetings and gained a lot of respect from those around the league. Without his heart and dedication, the 2011 season may have never been.

Kraft has done a tremendous job building this franchise as well as his brand. His net worth is in the billions and just take a look at the way Gillette Stadium has changed since it replaced the old Foxboro Stadium. No longer is it just a place to tailgate before a game, now it’s a destination. Need to do a little shopping? It has that. How about see a movie? Yup, you can do that too. Just want to grab some Five Guys or a drink at Bar Louie? You can do that, plus visit one of the other 19 places to eat. Not to mention relive some history at the Hall at Patriots Place. Kraft seems to be a man of endless possibilities and the town of Foxboro sure is benefiting from his economic boost.

So while other teams struggle with personnel changes and dissatisfied fans, the Patriots have a winning culture that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. We’ve been fortunate enough to have one of the greatest coaching/quarterback duos in history and we should continue to enjoy it. Over the past 13 years we’ve seen the Patriots win 3 Super Bowls, 5 AFC Championships and 10 AFC East titles. Not to mention we’ve witnessed some of the greatest players to ever play the game.

Now take some time to look around the league and ask yourself, who has it better than us?

One Step Forward, One Step Back For Gronk

It was a freak accident that nobody recognized in real time. But after the Patriots 59-24 beat down on the Indianapolis Colts, word came out that Rob Gronkowski had broken his forearm on the team’s final point after kick, with just under four minutes left in the game. Harsh words started flying, blaming Bill Belichick for even having his starters on the field at that point but he wasn’t to be blamed. It was just bad positioning and a tough break for one of the best tight ends in the game.


First it was the forearm and now it’s the back. We could be seeing a few less Gronk spikes this season if back surgery is in his future. (FILE:USPresswire)

How the story has unfolded since then, has not been in Gronk’s favor. We all know how it goes, he healed up at the what seemed like the speed of light only to come back and re-break his arm. Then there were the infections, trips to Vegas and four surgeries later, here we are, talking about his back. Yes, his back. With the infection now gone from his forearm and a fifth surgery on it unlikely, the attention has shifted to a back condition that has caused him continuous discomfort for a year. So now instead of thinking he’ll be back in a few months, we could be headed for a season missing a few more Gronk spikes than we’d like.

The biggest issue is nobody knows just how serious his back condition is. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and NFL.com, Gronk is set to meet with a specialist in three to four weeks. He’s undergone an MRI to determine the severity of his condition but no medical opinions have been formed. As of this moment it seems as though the team and the public are living in a state of limbo. Originally a return for training camp seemed logical. Have the forearm surgery in May and take a few months to heal, no big deal. But this monkey wrench of a potential back surgery has created a lot of uncertainty.

If it turns out the back condition isn’t that big of a deal and he can manage to have a quick recovery again, the Patriots shouldn’t have to change their season plan too much. However, if it turns out to be something much more severe and complex, we could see the Pats roll out a significantly different game plan. No longer would the dual tight end set be effective and defenses certainly would have an easier time against the Patriots. Gronk is one of the most difficult players to match up against because he is both big and physical. We’ve seen him carry defenders on his back down the field as he presses for more yards. He’s a big factor in the Patriots offense and we’ve seen the struggle when he isn’t able to play.

Right now this situation sits at “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” However, when we get to it, this could be a very scary bridge to cross. The Patriots need to be preparing for the worst and developing the younger players in OTAs. Tom Brady has said that by the middle of training camp he’ll know who he is most comfortable throwing to and hopefully Gronk will be able to be a factor in that equation. But if he isn’t, we could potentially be without him for the first half of the season. Yet another wrinkle into the Patriots offensive fold and it seems as though this season Josh McDaniels has his work cut out for him.

But while the forecast looks grim, one thing to take comfort in is the fact that Gronk is, for lack of a better term, a freak of nature. Hopefully if all goes well, we’ll see him back on the field at some point during the upcoming season.

No Shortage of Wide Receivers In Foxboro

At this moment, the Patriots have 12, yes count them, 12 wide receivers on their roster. That’s more than both the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. The Buffalo Bills also have 12 wideouts, but that’s a team that will likely have Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson and rookie EJ Manuel competing for the starting QB role. It’s a little different than having a future hall of famer at the helm.

Among these 12 Patriots receivers are some new faces to the franchise. Former St. Louis Ram Danny Amendola, former Tennessee Titan Lavelle Hawkins and former Minnesota Viking Michael Jenkins are just a few of the veteran players who will take their chances with the ever complicated Patriots playbook this preseason. In addition to the veterans, the Patriots also drafted a couple rookies to throw into the mix. Aaron Dobson out of Marshall University was drafted in the second round and Josh Boyce was drafted in the fourth round from Texas Christian University. The Patriots also signed two rookie free agents, T.J. Moe and Kenbrell Thompkins at the beginning of May.


Julian Edelman is one of the few wideout holdovers from last season and this year he’s got plenty of company. (FILE:USPresswire)

And we can’t forget about the wideouts we’ve come to know over the past few seasons. Julian Edelman remains with the team and should create some competition with Amendola for that slot receiver job. There’s also Matthew Slater, who is more of a special teams guy, but you never know what 2013 could bring. He’s got a big fan in Bill Belichick and will likely be given an opportunity to become a key guy for Tom Brady to link up with.

With the way the Patriots offseason has gone so far, the question still remains as to what we can expect from this offense. Rob Gronkowsi’s immediate future holds a fourth surgery on his broken forearm and who knows what’s going on with the running game. Josh McDaniels will have his hands full figuring out what’s going to work and what won’t with his current personnel.

The biggest thing we’ve learned as Patriots fans is that no matter who you put on the field, it’s all about the Brady connection. It doesn’t take much for Brady to lose confidence in a receiver. Take the Ochocinco experiment for example. He did not succeed in Foxboro because he couldn’t gain Brady’s trust. He simply couldn’t pick up the plays and it ended very quickly. The same can be said for Brandon Lloyd. There was plenty of hype surrounding him leading up to the season, but in the end there was nothing to show for it. What the Patriots did have was Wes Welker. Brady trusted him with just about every crucial pass in every key moment. There were some drops but Brady knew and had that connection with Welker that you just don’t see very often. In the past there were the glory days with Deion Branch (circa Super Bowl XXXIX), Troy Brown and even Randy Moss, but its been a while since the Patriots had that downfield threat.

The introduction of veteran players will probably be the most interesting part of this wide receiver conundrum to watch. The Patriots cannot and will not keep all 12 on the roster. We’ve seen veterans struggle with the Patriots way of doing things before and we’ll likely see it again. It can be difficult to forget what you’ve learned and start fresh, especially when you’ve got Brady throwing the ball and Belichick in your ear.

The rookies on the other hand, could stand a chance, especially Dobson. Now this is based purely off of where he comes from…Marshall University. The Patriots have had just a little bit of luck with players out Marshall, the key names being Brown and Moss. Dobson has good hands and a tall frame. The Patriots need a guy who can get up above the defense and make those endzone grabs. With a clean mind and no other NFL plays to confuse him, he could very well have a respectable first year. We saw what happened when Aaron Hernandez and Gronkowski were rookies, it changed the way we thought about an offense. Hopefully this year Dobson can change the way we think about rookie receivers.

No matter what happens, there will be plenty of passes to go around this preseason as the Patriots prepare for a new look on offense. Brady and McDaniels will have their work cut out for them as they search for the perfect blend of veteran presence and rookie talent to lead them through a brand new season.

Pats Run Game: Who Will Carry The Load?

Last season the Patriots showcased a more versatile offense. The run game picked up speed and finally found ground to stand on. It made a difference because instead of just relying on Tom Brady and his arm, the Pats were able to throw defenses for a loop with solid running plays. But now with the offseason trade of Danny Woodhead to the San Diego Chargers, the question becomes, who will pick up the slack?

Last season, Woodhead accounted for more pass plays than Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen with 40 and he ranked second to Ridley with 76 rushes. He also scored four rushing and three receiving touchdowns and proved himself to be valuable on third down conversions. Overall on third downs he had 15 attempts for 61 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Meanwhile Vereen was only used four times on third down opportunities.


Will this be the year Shane Vereen steps up for the Patriots? (FILE:USPresswire)

Woodhead was the consistent second back when Ridley needed a break. His versatility and ability to weave and bob between defenders made him tough to stop. The guy showed he was tough as nails, instantly popping up after some vicious hits. His absence will definitely be noticed this season as the Patriots haven’t exactly filled the void. They traded Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for running back LeGarrette Blount, who is entering his fourth year in the league. This was a smart and low risk move by the Patriots. Demps’s focus is clearly elsewhere and Blount is taking a pay cut to come to the team. His cap hit will be $630,000 which is the league-minimum for a fourth year pro. Yet again we are witness to Bill Belichick working a deal in his favor.

How Blount will impact the team, though, remains to be seen. Last season in Tampa Bay he only had 41 attempts for 151 yards. He averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and only had 2 touchdowns. This all in just 13 games. Vereen also played in 13 games but managed 62 attempts for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns. I’m not so sure that Blount will be the man to step in to fill Woodhead’s shoes. Granted last year was tough for running backs in Tampa Bay. Remember when Doug Martin came into the picture? He ran for 251 yards and four touchdowns against Oakland in November. From that point on, I think all other Buccaneer running backs became obsolete.

What could happen, and what’s more likely to happen, in New England is Vereen will be the one to step up to the plate. But injuries have plagued him in the past and he has yet to play a full season. He played in just 5 games in 2011 and 13 in 2012. If he really wants to compete with Ridley, he’s going to have to have one heck of a camp. He has a lot of work to do to get his numbers up and prove he can shoulder the load. What would probably work best for him is to use his lackluster first two years as motivation. He has the potential, but potential doesn’t guarantee success. If the Patriots can figure out a way to make him better and keep him healthy, we could see one heck of a running back tandem.

To the Patriots, Woodhead obviously wasn’t a guy they wanted to spend money on to keep. This could very well come back to bite them this season. The offense is evolving but we can’t see exactly how just yet. The draft provided some interesting pieces and if Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez remain healthy, it could turn into a dynamic offensive scheme. But the core to any successful team is balance. The Patriots will need to figure out who they can rely on to back Ridley up and find a way to keep their run game strong.

Vince Wilfork Makes A Difference On Draft Night

For the past ten years Vince Wilfork has been making a difference on NFL draft night. Together with his wife Bianca, and The Vince Wilfork Foundation, he brings teammates and fans together to raise money for diabetes research. This year’s proceeds went mostly to the Joslin Diabetes Center and the Diabetes Research Institute, but 10% of the monies are going to victims of the marathon bombings. The Foundation is also donating all $10 texts through the end of this month to the victims. Wilfork is taking his charity above and beyond what it normally does to make a difference in the city that has supported him throughout his Patriots tenure.

This year’s draft night fundraiser saw the biggest turnout of Pats players yet with almost 25 guys in attendance. Among them were Chandler Jones, Steve Gregory and Devin McCourty. It says a lot about this team that players will support each other in their charitable efforts. They take the time to gather off the field to help one another push their foundations to the next level.


Vince Wilfork continues to make a big impact both on and off the field.. (FILE:USPresswire)

Wilfork’s foundation is probably one of the better known foundations headed by professional athletes in New England. Ever since 2002, after Wilfork’s father passed away from diabetes related complications, he’s taken the cause on his back. According to the foundation’s website, the tasks and aim of the organization is to “support diabetes research, to support educational and informational activities to increase awareness of causes of diabetes and to support organizations that care for those with diabetes.” He does this not only on a local level in Boston, but also in Florida. Together with Bianca, he wants to find a way to help treat and cure those suffering from diabetes.

At a time when diabetes has become a leading disease in America, the Wilfork Foundation is a premier organization that has the ability to attract a lot of people who otherwise might not be supporting the cause. With adoration and support from fans in New England, Wilfork brings a friendly face to a serious issue. He knows first hand the struggles families face and the financial burden diabetes can cause. He’s taken it upon himself to do what he can to make a difference.

This year on the 10th anniversary of the event and at a time when the city needed him most, Wilfork and company were able to come through in a big way. In the Boston Herald, it’s reported that the foundation’s text campaign has raised $10,000 for marathon bombing victims, which they then turned around and matched, and then Wilfork himself contributed an additional $5,000. He’s opened up the realm of his foundation to support those who need help immediately. He’s taken a big role in raising funds to help those whose lives have been forever changed.

A simple bowling event has turned into much more for the Wilfork Foundation. With each year they continue to raise more money and bring more awareness to diabetes research and treatment. The reason why they’ve been so successful is because this is a cause that comes from the heart. They may not have expected it to become as big as it has, but together Wilfork and his family have brought a lot of positive change to this ever present disease.


Heading into his 30th year with the team, New England Patriots coach Dante Scarnecchia has been Bill Belichick’s secret weapon. (USA TODAY Sports)


It’s no secret that for the past few years, the Patriots have dominated defenses throughout the league. In 2012 they finished the season as the top ranked offense averaging 34.8 points per game. When Tom Brady was on the money, there was no defense that could stop this offense.


Scarnecchia has become a staple on the Patriots sideline, and a valuable one at that. (FILE:USPresswire)

But there’s more to the story than passing yards and touchdowns. Thanks to the hard working front five on the offensive line, Brady has time to set up his passes and the running backs have holes to break through. The man behind this sometimes overlooked part of the team, is Dante Scarnecchia.

With 43 years of experience, Scarnecchia has become a staple on the Patriots sidelines. The 65-year-old is the longest tenured coach in Patriots history and the only one who has been a part of all seven championship teams. He’s entering his 30th season with the team and is showing no signs of slowing down. His main focus is on the offensive line and it’s his knowhow that makes all the difference.

Across the board, the Patriots were top ten in all categories when it came to offensive rankings for the 2012 season. Injuries did plague the Patriots at times, but as per usual with this team, the next man on the totem pole stepped in and went to work.

This season the offensive line gave up 31 sacks, good enough for ninth in the regular season. On those sacks they gave up 172 yards which put them at sixth in the league. Quantifying the success of an offensive line can be difficult but one thing you can say about the Patriots is they’re consistent. Dating back to 2009 they haven’t fallen below 10th in the league when it comes to sacks allowed. In a time when rosters and coaches change with the slightest breeze, this team has held firm to its roots.

For the Patriots, it’s not just the stats that matter. We’ve heard Bill Belichick say over and over again at his post game press conferences that it’s any team, on any given Sunday. It’s about going out there and playing your best football week after week. Scarnecchia gives the Patriots the ability to do that on a regular basis. He has worked with some of the greatest players the Patriots have seen and he’s also created something out of nothing when it seems all hope is lost.

Consistency is the way the Patriots win football games. They have a strong crop of talent and an even better coaching staff. Where they’ll be when Scarnecchia decides to call it quits…well, lets just not think about that just yet.

He has a mind that equals Belichick’s and the two are a duo to be reckoned with when it comes to football IQ. Not to mention the guy looks like he can keep pace with just about any player on the field. The Patriots are lucky to have such a coach on their sidelines and in the years to come, it will be his influence that will help him continue creating some of the best offensive linemen in the game.