By: Derek Havens
As the 2010 season plays out, the youth injected roster of the New England Patriots is forced to grow on the fly. The team has done a fantastic job this season with a record of 11 – 2. First and second year players have had an impact on this team more than ever in various roles. Whether these players are starters or contributing in on sub packages, they are making their mark on this franchise.
While not all of these players have been consistent, many of these players have shown both flashes of brilliance and made bone-headed decisions. That is the harsh reality of this team and while it may not always be pretty; this comes with the strategy of reloading with out rebuilding.
Many may question what the term “reloading” might be compared to the dreaded “rebuilding” phase sports franchises will go through from time-to-time. To me, the difference goes down to the foundation of the roster and team as a whole. If a team is truly rebuilding, the franchise is looking at a new coaching staff, front office personnel, young or new QB, and even new ownership at times. Fortunately for the Patriots, there is no one person who questions the foundation of this team; Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
While the Patriots are not rebuilding by any stretch, do not fool yourself, this team has been undergoing serious roster turnover throughout the past few seasons. A move that inevitably came with the veteran laden team the Patriots represented during the early part of the millennium. These young players have gained experience and are beginning to settle in their roles.
Most fans, including myself, would say these players have done a great job transitioning to the NFL level. At the beginning of the season, analysts and fans alike thought the Pats might be going through a transitional phase. This year’s squad has surpassed many to all expectations in spectacular fashion.
This current rookie class has already seen playing time that far exceeds rookie players in the past. This of course, has a strong correlation to both the talent on the roster and retooling strategy the coaching staff has chosen to deploy.
The reality of that statement is, it’s ok. These rookies have played 13 games, and second year players continue to develop. There is no need to make knee jerk reactions based on a game-by-game performance.
These young players are under the microscope on a daily basis because this team lacks the veteran leadership and elite talent of the past few years. Most fans and analysts hold this organization to a high standard because of their success this past decade.
This team will improve even further throughout the duration of the season. They have already proved to be a serious contender this season by defeating several tough teams. There will be both good and bad days for these young players ahead. However, I think we all have a lot to look forward too judging on what we have seen so far. No matter the result of this 2011 season, Patriots fans should have high hopes for these promising athletes moving forward. Although, the way this team has played so far, it seems the sky is the limit.