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6 Storylines for 2014

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Sicilian, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. Sicilian

    Sicilian Rookie

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    With the Patriots season over, the best way I can deal with the disappointment is to start thinking ahead. I haven't even started thinking about "what they should do" though, and have been focusing more on the interesting storylines and players to watch going into next season. There is a LOT up in the air with this team, and it will be fascinating to see how it all plays out:

    1) Is Talib back? This is the second straight year he's left early in the AFCCG with an injury, and though this latest time was due to a cheap hit, he did have hip issues earlier in the year, so it's not like he was mister durable prior to Denver. If he's not brought back, is he replaced with a new player or an expected improvement from the rest of the secondary?

    2) How do the vets look coming back from injury? The big five are Wilfork, Kelly, Mayo, Vollmer, and Gronk. Mayo doesn't concern me. He's young and should be fine. Wilfork and Kelly concern me because of their age. Neither has an extensive injury history, but once you get past 30, things don't bounce back the way they used to. As for Gronk and Vollmer, although they're young, both have injury histories that have to give you pause. Some have said it's like adding 5 pro bowlers to a final four team, but I'm guaranteeing one or two of those guys won't make it through the season again next year.

    3) How many sophomore slumps? We had so many rookies contribute this year, but year two is a crossroads. Other teams start adjusting to you, and you either fight through it and continue to grow, or you get exposed and have the proverbial slump. Collins, Ryan, Harmon, Dobson, Thompkins, Boyce, Jones, Vellano, Allen. At least 3 of them will probably disappoint us next year. And at least 3 will take a step forward. It's the remaining three that will swing us one way or the other.

    4) An AFCCG, on the road, against Peyton Manning, in which the lack of receiving weapons contributed to a difficult loss. Sound familiar? Last time, BB went out and surrounded Brady with an explosive cast. I don't see the exact same scenario here because we already have some young players and Gronk coming back, but it would not surprise me to see them try to make a splash on both sides of the ball. Cap issues aside, I think BB sees an opportunity here to take a team with a lot of young, energetic talent and infuse it with some veteran pieces to make a big run next year.

    5) Chandler Jones. Just, Chandler Jones. The kid has the raw talent to be a disruptive force, and he definitely took a step forward this year. More sacks, more pressures, more double teams (and triple teams, at times in the Denver game). But can he take that final step, from solid NFL starter/pass rusher, to that elite class that other teams have to account for (and very often CAN'T). That's what he needs to be. The guy that they gameplan for, but still messes everything up for them. He makes that jump, the defense goes with him.

    6) The safety position. Outside of the trenches, this is the grouping that has the biggest chance to boost the defense. McCourty was good this year. Can he get better with the full year under his belt? Can Gregory be upgraded, either with Harmon or a vet addition? These questions, as much as anything, will determine the fate of the secondary. Improved safety play, plus improvement from Ryan/Dennard would make losing Talib a non-factor IMO. The unit can get better. It can also get worse (if Harmon pulls a Wilson and follows up a promising rookie year with an invisible sophomore year, see point 3 above).
  2. newenglandsports11

    newenglandsports11 Rookie

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    1. Talib is back. Bill just stuck his foot out there for him and knows the defense comes and goes with him.

    2. They'll all be fine. Gronk can't be trusted but the arm and the knee were two freak injuries.

    3. I think Dobson, Ryan, Boyce, and Collins emerge as studs. Chris Jones and Thompkins will be serviceable, not great. I hated and still hate the Harmon pick, Bill's infatuation with undersized safeties is horrible and Harmon along with Tavon Wilson and Bequette will be going the same way as Ras-IR and Darius Butler next season.

    4. We are signing Sanders, Chandler, Arthur Jones and a safety, mark my words.

    5. Chandler Jones will make the same jump Cameron Jordan and Robert Quinn made this year. Watch out, along with Hightower.

    6. As I said, the safety position outside of McCourty is a joke. Sign someone and keep Gregory on as a backup. Cut Tavon Wilson, sign Whitner or a cheap option.
  3. Sicilian

    Sicilian Rookie

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    I think it depends on how other teams value him. If he's expecting (and can get) top tier CB money, he's gone. And you know what? As much as I love what he brings, I'm not convinced he'll be there in the crucial times, cheap hit or not. I think BB wants him on the team, but shelling out big bucks for a guy who has health problems AND an attitude history just makes me nervous.

    Wilfork is a big guy with a lower body injury. I'll never question his heart or that he'll do everything he can to come back, but that's a tricky situation for sure. He's no lock. I'm more optimistic about Mayo, Kelly, and Gronk. Vollmer worries me with his history.

    I'm higher on Harmon than you are (I think he can be serviceable, like a James Sanders type), but I think I agree otherwise.

    Where do I sign?

    If one (or both) can do that, this is a top five defense next year.
  4. ALP

    ALP Rookie

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    The problem with C Jones is that in every single game, in every single snap, the LT is allowed to hold him....

    Not sure why that happens, but no other DE in the game is held like that without non calls....it would be astonishing if it wasn't so enraging
  5. goheels22002

    goheels22002 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This is the biggest question heading into the draft and signing period. I would add Talib to that group since his injury status is the main reason not to slap the franchise tag on him. I do not see a long-term deal for Talib, for two reasons: 1) he's physically unreliable, and 2) he seems like a guy who would get a little security and back off effort-wise. I could be wrong, but his Tampa Bay exit was not professional, (but then again, TB was not run professionally by Schiano.)

    Wilfork has to a) come back healthy, and b) re-do his deal to be more cap friendly. My belief is that he'll do both.

    Kelly: his knee should be fine if he's done what the PTs tell him to do. He'll be back at camp competing with the young guns and a top draft pick. The Patriots needed to go interior DL with their 1st or 2nd pick no matter what else happened. Should be a great competition.

    Vollmer: he'll be back and his deal is fine. It is incentive laden and good for three more years. No worries there.

    Jerrod Mayo: No worry, mate. His deal is cap-friendly in 2014 and he'll be rarin' to go.

    Gronkowski: His deal could be an albatross. It sure feels like it. This guy has a bad back, bad arm and now a bad knee. We love this guy, but intil we can see a late season and top-production post-season, what do we really have? No blame here. Injuries happen and all these guys work hard. But relying on Gronkjowski to be a 6-8 catch per game guy in the playoffs just isn't working out.
  6. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Mayo concerns me quite a bit. A torn pec is very, very difficult to come back from. Like Wilfork this is very much wait-and-see. I wouldn't pencil in either of those guys yet.

    Pec surgery/rehab = minimum 10-month process and that's assuming no setbacks.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953288/
  7. TriplecHamp

    TriplecHamp Rookie

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    where are you getting this from? I have little doubt that mayo will be back and healthy next year. There was talk of holding him off IR for a late post-season return.
  8. PatsWickedPissah

    PatsWickedPissah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    It's not like he just tore it. He'll have over 9 months healing before he sees contact. He'll be playing with a few pounds less chest muscle as he won't be doing the steady lifting until late spring.
    "Surgical repair of the pectoralis major tendon rupture has been shown to provide superior outcomes regarding strength return."
    And Vollmer's IR is not related to his back which should be well rehabbed.
  9. Sicilian

    Sicilian Rookie

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    I'm probably underestimating the impact because it's not a leg injury so he can maintain some athleticism, just needs to build back upper body strength. I have no doubt it's a tough road, I'm just less worried about that than an older Wilfork with a weight bearing injury.
  10. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Just from what I know about pec surgery (added a link to my post above). I certainly hope it's not as serious as these things tend to be. I never heard of him potentially being kept on the roster; wasn't his surgery pretty quick after the injury?
  11. oldrover

    oldrover Rookie

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    Biggest storyline for 2014 IMHO is can the offense perform... not necessarily dominate, but perform... at crunch time in the playoffs? Jekyll and Hyde this year, last year, 2011 and 2010... and you could make a case for 2009 and the 2007 SB.

    It's been going on so long now I feel like...


















    [​IMG]

    :D
  12. ripatsfan91

    ripatsfan91 Rookie

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    Another story line I think is key is the offensive line. It came up short in the most critical situations in the biggest game of the year.

    Solder needs to use his arms better and improve his footwork. I think he is kinda overrated he is good, but not THAT good. Mankins has been overrated. Wendell was downright terrible this season. Connolly is over paid. Cannon did an admirable job stepping up and filling in for Vollmer.

    We need to overhaul the offensive line/receiver/TE position this offseason.
  13. reflexblue

    reflexblue PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'd worry about it happening again. There wasn't much contact when it happened, it was kind of unusual. I remember Teddy Johnson rupturing his bicep tendon, he came back and ruptured the other one the next year or year after.

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