Matt Williamson of ESPN’s Scouts Inc., posted his 2011 AFC Post-lockout Grades (Insider Content)Â and offered his analysis on the conference teams respective moves. The Patriots were of course included, so I thought I would share his take on the team’s roster acquisitions and departures to date.
“The Patriots released a couple of key contributors from their past few seasons. But they obviously adhere to the philosophy that it is better to get rid of a player a year too early instead of a year too late, and their track record pretty much speaks for itself. Because of that track record, many tend to just assume that adding Haynesworth and Ochocinco will pay off in spades. Well, personally, I think one of these two moves will pay off (and pay off huge), and that is the addition of Haynesworth.
This is the perfect environment for him to thrive. When he is lined up next to Vince Wilfork,Â opposing offenses are going to be simply overwhelmed trying to get enough blockers on just those two men. Of course, that will open up everything for the rest of the defense. New England’s biggest problem was pass defense last year, and Big Al can really get after the passer from wherever Bill Belichick decides to align him.
As for Ochocinco, I just don’t love the fit. Can he act as the Randy MossÂ in this offense and stretch the field deep? I have my doubts. Is he physical, tough, good after the catch or going over the middle? Not really. That doesn’t seem to me what the Patriots are looking for from their pass-catchers at any position. But the real beauty of these two trades is that New England (which has more future draft picks than it knows what to do with) really didn’t give much up for either player and, if they don’t work out, they won’t be with the team.
And, of course, keeping Mankins, who might just be the best guard in all of football, is something that can’t be faulted. It is tough to predict what Light’s role will be with Sebastian VollmerÂ and Nate SolderÂ in the fold, but Light remains a middle-of-the-road starting left tackle. I expect to see a lot of six offensive line sets with all three of these tackles on the field together, which could help bring Solder along slowly.”
Williamson then went on to give the Patriots a grade of B+ after his analysis.
I believe the Scouts Inc. analyst had some great points in this entry, however, I would limit them to his Haynesworth thoughts. Opposing offenses will definitely have to account for both Haynesworth and Wilfork which in turn would open up opportunitiesÂ for the rest of the Pats defense. Patriots nation is salivating with the idea of those two in the middle of their defensive line. The Pats opponents will be searching for answers throughout the year.
I disagree with Williamson’s take on the Ochocinco acquisition. First of all, the Patriots do not need Chad to be a quote on quote “deep threat”. Yes, the argument can be made that the team could use someone to stretch the field and take the top off the opposing defense, but Ochocinco has other responsibilities. The wide receiver needs to be crisp on his routes (one of the best route runners in the NFL), contribute to the team in a positive way, and do his job. Also, Ochocinco is a physical wide-out and is not afraid to go over the middle. While i respect Williamson’s opinion, I believe both players will do well here in New England.
What do you think of the Ochocinco and Haynesworth additions to the Patriots? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
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