2006: New faces, but the dynasty continues
Spread this stat to all of those who believe "the Patriots are a different team than that which won XXXIX."
For all intents and purposes, as the first play starters weren't exactly an accurate representation of the championship season as a whole, here were the Pats' starters for XXXIX:
QB - Brady
RB - Dillon
RB - Faulk
WR - Branch
WR - Givens
TE - Graham
LT - Light
LG - Andruzzi
C - Koppen
RG - Neal
RT - Gorin
LE - Seymour
NT - Wilfork
RE - Warren
OLB - Colvin
ILB - Bruschi
ILB - Vrabel
OLB - McGinest
CB - Samuel
CB - Gay
FS - Wilson
SS - Harrison
Out of these 22 'starters,' 21 were on the Pats' 2005 squad (Andruzzi left).
In 2005, more than half (13) of these 21 remaining 'starters' had one form of an injury or another. Some were season-ending (Harrison, Koppen, Light, Gay).
For 2006, 19 of these 21 remaining players will be returning to the Patriots. Odds have it, most - if not even all - of these players will be healthy for the 2006 season.
Add in 2005 and 2006 draftees Mankins (replacing Andruzzi), Kaczur (upgrading from Gorin), Hobbs (AND Gay = upgrade), Sanders (increasing role), Claridge (adds LB depth), Cassel (adds QB depth), Maroney (AND Dillon AND Faulk AND Pass = upgrade), Jackson (replaces Givens), Mills and Thomas (AND Graham AND Watson = significant upgrade, replaces Fauria and helps replace Givens/Dwight/Davis/Johnson with help of Caldwell), Gostkowski (potential to replace Vinatieri), Mincey (with help of Banta-Cain, Beisel, Claridge, Klecko, etc. helps LB position get MUCH younger), and O'Callghan/Stevenson/L.K. Smith/Andrews (add depth to lines and special teams)...
This IS STILL a TOP-TIER team.
Spread the word.
(Of course, this is still all on paper, but that's all we have to go on right now!)
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