By: Russ Goldman
Each week I like to mention different subjects that are on my mind regarding the Pats. Last week gave me much to think about. The Pats beat the Falcons last Thursday night 28 – 10 at the Georgia Dome. The result of this game is definitely not the only thing on my mind. There are other issues regarding the team that made me think this week. Below are my “Ten Things I Think About The New England Patriots”.
1. Logan Mankins might have played his last down for the Patriots. Logan Mankins has been holding out of training camp and reports lately suggest that he could be sitting out for awhile. Why do I see this situation as very similar to what happened to Deion Branch? Mankins has dug his heels in, and there have been no reports of him coming back.
I have a bad feeling that this relationship could end badly. The Patriots could be forced again like they were with Branch to trade Mankins. I really hope this doesn’t happen, because he is an excellent guard.
However, if this relationship cannot be fixed, than a trade might be the only solution. I will be watching the Mankins situation closely.
2. I Feel that Dante Scarnecchia deserves even more praise for the job he does with the offensive line. Dante has been with the Patriots as as a coach since the Ron Meyer years. I think that is incredible, and shows his value to the organization. He has been able to over the years to get players like Joe Andruzzi, Russ Hochstein, and Stephen Neal to be valuable contributors.
This season he is currently working without Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur. He is still able to put out a unit that protects Tom Brady well. Dan Connolly has already shown promise in the pre-season. Dante deserves some serious credit.
3. I feel it is not too early to praise the job Nick Caserio and his staff have done in the last two drafts. I know it is early, but Caserio might have already brought in several pieces of the Patriots puzzle of the future.
Last year’s draft included Patrick Chung, Darius Butler, Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer, and Brandon Tate. All of these players have a good chance to contribute this season and into the future.
This season’s draft has included Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty, Rob Grankowski, and Aaron Hernandez who are already showing promise. I don’t think it is too early to see the job that Caserio has done so far. The future looks bright with him as a major part of player personnel decisions.
4. Zoltan Mesko could end up being a weapon in changing field position. Mesko came to the Patriots from playing in college at Michigan. His career punting average at Michigan was 42.5. That is a good average for a punter. I have already noticed in pre-season, punts that have gone farther than his career average.
If he can boom many punts this season, he could really change field position for the Pats. He has the potential to be a valuable member of the 2010 Patriots.
5. I feel that the Patriots will still be a passing offense. So far in the pre-season, the Pats have been pretty balanced on offense. I think it is important to run the ball. However, when you have Tom Brady as your quarterback, you are going to be a pass first offense. I just don’t see the Pats being completely balanced this season.
6. I feel that Fred Taylor is the best running back on the team. He might be 34 years old, but Fred Taylor looks like he still has a good amount left in his legs. When he is healthy I think he is the best back the Pats have. He runs hard and always gets every yard he can. The question is can he stay healthy the entire season?
7. Aaron Hernandez has a chance to be the Patriots version of Dallas Clark. I wrote about Hernandez over the weekend. He really has the potential to be that receiving tight end that the Patriots have really needed since Ben Coates. He catches everything thrown to him and gets open. Watch out for Hernandez this season.
8. The lack of a pass rush is still a concern this season. The one negative that still seems to stick out is that lack of pressure on the quarterback by the Patriots defense. This issue once again could be the Achilles heel of the Patriots. I will be watching the front seven very carefully in the future. I am hoping to see improvement. So far I have not seen any evidence to prove to me that that the rush has gotten better.
9. I feel the game Thursday night against the Rams is very important. The Pats have shown me so many signs to be encouraged by the upcoming season. The third pre-season game is a dress rehearsal for the first game. The starters might play up to three quarters of the game.
The Pats need to continue to build on what they have already established so far in the pre-season. If they have another strong performance, they could prove to themselves, the media, and the fans that they are still a force to be reckoned with this season.
10. I feel that the media is completely blowing the Tom Brady comments way out of proportion. I heard his interview on Dennis and Callahan when he said he hates the Jets and won’t watch Hard Knocks. What is the big deal with that statement?
These comments have become a national story, and it is all over ESPN. I want my quarterback to hate the competition. I don’t get why this is even a story. ESPN is continuing to make me change the channel.
Well, I certainly had a good amount on my mind. I am sure I will have plenty to write about next week.