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Idle Thoughts - So many questions. So little time....

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  1. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    ....Well with a week to go I thought I'd summarize my preseason thoughts....such that they are. its been a rather chaotic preseason with what seemed like a lot more downs than ups. But the single most glaring impression one gets after 6 weeks and 40 odd practices is that you would have to go back to 2001 to find a Pats team that engendered as many question marks as this team. Lets break it down.

    Offense:

    QB- I think we are demonstrably better at the most critical position on the field. Not only has Brady looked sharper and more comfortable in the pocket, Brian Hoyer for the first time (IMHO) looks like he could be counted on to come in and do an adequate job as back up. Every chance he got to work with the ones he seemed to move the ball. i'm very happy with this duo going into the season. - UPGRADE

    RB - Not much to say. At least at this point we will have 5 HEALTHY RBs. We couldn't say that for most of last season. I know individually they don't look like much, but as a group, for what the pats want them to do, I think we will be OK.

    Think of how we use the running game back in the days of ASmith. He was a guy who NEVER averaged 4 ypc, but was effective enough to give our offense balance and get the tough yardage to move the chains and score TDs on the GL. And remember this was in a time where our passing game wasn't nearly as accomplished. NEUTRAL

    TE- I think we went 3 for 3 in the TE position. Crumpler is the best blocker we've had at that position since Graham, and Gronk might eventually be better than both. Both Gronk and Crumpler have been revelations as receivers, while Hernandez has been as good as advertized. These 3 addition will not only help the Red Zone offense it will have a very positive affect on the running game regardless of who carries the ball. BIG UPGRADE

    OL- Mankins is clearly a loss, but Connolly seems like he's been adequate, and fortunately a drop off at LG will not critically effect the total offense. However the loss of BOTH Mankins and Kaczar greatly reduces the depth we had at the positions. The fact that BOTH Connolly and Neal missed the last pre season game didn't fill me with confidence about their ability to make it through and entire season. i think Volmer will be an upgrade at RT and the OL will still be a good one. Compared to last season its a DOWNGRADE

    WR - WE are way ahead of were we were last season. Welker is ready to make limited contributions right from the get go, and this makes it more likely that he will be back at full speed by December. Tate looks like he "is who we thought he was', with every game he plays. Price looks like he is not quite ready from prime time yet, but is way ahead of David Givens at similar stages of their careers (He reminds me of a slightly bigger, faster David Givens) I see him helping this year, but excelling down the road. Randy Moss didn't miss a single preseason practice and I look for him to have a monster contract year. However my hopes for this being a superlative WR group rests on the continued development of Julian Edelman......and he as been no where to be seen the last 3 weeks. So many freaking injury questions UPGRADE

    DEFEMSE:

    DL - Questions added to questions - Will Warren be able to hold up his DE position. Will we be able to find another DE to work with Wright on the other side. Was that flash by Ron Brace substantial or was it just a pre season mirage. Will we be able to actually play a true 2 gap 3-4 this season. Wilfolk is a given in the middle but everything else remains to be seen - We could be OK but there is no way to know that now. DOWNGRADE

    ILB - I saw a thread wondering if Mayo is just a one hit wonder a la Jonathan Vilma. I think it was a fair question. Neither he, NOR Spikes looks like they were true anchors of great run defense, and were down right liabilities vs the pass....at least in the last 2 preseason games - Still a foursome of Spikes Mayo, Guyton, and Merriweather is a lot better group than we had last year.....even if it isn't saying much. upgrade (I couldn't make myself use caps on this

    OLB- I don't think we will know what we have outthere until we see what the final roster looks like on Monday. Not being able to see Cunningham play in preseason REALLY hurts RIght now it looks like TBC and Nincovitch, and that doesn't fill anyone with confidence. TBC has proven that he can be a better than average pass rusher. That's a start. Ninkovich and Cunningham are 2 developing players and are huge question marks - like the DL, we could be OK, but....... DOWNGRADE

    CB- I had such great hopes for a Boddin, McCourty, Butler trio of CBs I really liked that group. Boddin's loss hit me much harder than Ty's, even though Warren is the better player. I just saw Boddin as being the rock of a young but talented group. I still think the group has enough talent, (with Wilhite and Wheatly progressing) but its SOOOOO green that it is hard to see how it canl excel, at least in the first half of the season. Wheatly had looked like he could turn into the guy we hoped he would be when we drafted him, and what happens....he out again for the Giants scrimmage. DOWNGRADE

    One thought - one would think that when you have such young inexperienced CBs like the Pats have you'd be wise to protect them with a lot of Zone coverages. However after watching them this pre season, I think the Pats would be better off letting them be more aggressive in one on one coverages. They seem to play them much better than the zones at this point in their careers. If you have to help them do it with S help over the top

    S- I liked this group before McGowan went on IR and I like it even better with Page, who at worst will be the same, or who has the potential to be better than McGowan. This will have to be the strength of the secondary. Don't be surprised to see a lot more 3 Safety packages than last season UPGRADE

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Returns:For the first time in my memory the Pats have mulitple game breaker kinds of returners on BOTH the KO and punt return game. IIRC they said the Pats had had 4 KO returns of 50+ yds in just the last 2 preseason games. I can't remember a full season where the Pats had 4 KO returns of 50+ yd. This could really be a hidden gem for our team. BIG UPGRADE

    Punting: Another big plus. the Zoltan probably has as many punts inside the 20 this preseson as Hanson had all last season. ANOTHER hidden gem - BIG UPGRADE

    Kicking - Its not an upgrade because he's the same guy we've had for a while, but it is a huge plus when you have one of the best FG kickers in the league, who is also one of the best KO guys NEUTRAL

    Coverage- Consistency is the issue here. When its been good, its been very good, but there have been lapses, so I can't say its an upgrade....yet NEUTRAL

    Summary - -Clearly the offense is going to have to carry this team, especially for the first half of the season, but they are capable of being that good. This defense has more talent than last year's group, but is so damned young. Its going to have be one of BB's vintage coaching years here if we are truly going to be anything more than a playoff contentder. Finally I think this years special teams are really going to be "special". amd special enough to win us a game or 2, which as we know, can be the difference between a wildcard berth and bye

    ...And my immediate angst? Well thats simple. Its the health of Edelman, Neal, Connolly, Tate, Brace, Cunningham, and Wheatly All players who would look like they could play key roles in our opener, yet for all we know, all could be inactive

    This is going to be a very fun year, IMHO. The first year in many where expectations are initially low, but here hopes are high. looking forward to your comments.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  2. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    I disagree with you on OLB. It is an upgrade. You will see TBC and Murrell there to start things off.

    The Giants kept running the ball at Burgess because they knew he couldn't stuff the run worth crap and his replacement, to me, can only be an upgrade.
  3. WhoaDirty

    WhoaDirty Rookie

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    With 20 of the 53 in their first or second year in the NFL, I am curious how the Pats rank in terms of age when compared to the rest of the NFL.
  4. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    And we are comparing to last year when Adalius Thomas was possibly the worst starting OLB in the NFL.
    I think Ninkovitch is actually a solid, unspectacular guy who wont dominate anyone and wont get dominated. The kind of guy you can do well with, but always would like to either see him improve or be replaced. A lot of teams are relying on players a lot worse than that.
    The key is Cunningham. There is no question he has the raw tools to contribute. Luckily for us, half of the job of an OLB on this team is to play DE in nickel and dime. If there is a single role that you can miss time and step into and be effective if you are physically ready its rushing the passer. He should be able to ease in that way, then we will see what we've got. If he does anything in that role, its an upgrade.
    I would assume that he is close to ready, otherwise we would have kept Burgess around at least a little longer even just as pass rush insurance over Fletcher (the 5th ILB) or BJGE (the 5th RB) and not leave us with just 3 active OLBS AND sub package DEs.
  5. cmasspatsfan

    cmasspatsfan Rookie

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    Thats a good point they looked like they were concentrating so much on their zones that they were afraid to make plays, we'll see how far along they have come in the first game, I cant wait for game 1!!!
  6. 5 Rings for Brady!!

    5 Rings for Brady!! Rookie

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    Not much to add to this post. I agree that Bodden going down was the biggest story of the preseason. It is not McCourty that I worry about but Butler, frankly. He is our third best CB.
  7. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The only problem I have with Brady at this point is his tendency to stay in the pocket to try to measure the deep throws. IMO, he needs to have more faith in his arm and his accuracy and just uncork it the first moment he sees daylight. When he does this, it seems that he's much more accurate and puts the ball right on the money. When he stays there and tries to measure it, it's almost as if he gets into his own head. Other than that, he's been lights out so far, as was expected. It also helps that he appears to have a lot more weapons to throw to in the offense as compared to 2009. Also agreed on Hoyer. Hopefully we don't ever have to see Brady leave the game again. If he does, however, I'd be comfortable with Hoyer coming in.

    If Maroney and Taylor stay healthy and if the O-Line learns how to run block at anything approaching an NFL level again, we have a formidable running game that should see some daylight if the passing game is clicking.

    Fully agreed. I liked Crumpler for what he brought to the team in regards to blocking, but he's been a very pleasant surprise as a receiver. Teams can't just forget about him. Gronk should be a monster in the red zone this year, is a VERY good blocker, and should also present match-up problems down the seam. Hernandez will also threaten the seam, and will present match-up problems for LB's with his speed and athleticism, as well as defensive backs with his size and strength.

    Agree that we've downgraded on the O-Line. Connolly is a capable run blocker, but is a question mark as a pass blocker. Neal hasn't been able to play a full, healthy season in four years now. If he stays healthy, he's our best O-Lineman. Really like Light and Vollmer as the tackles, but the interior of the line worries me. With this quarterback, that's a bad thing. His kryptonite is pressure up the middle. We HAVE to give him a pocket.

    A big thing to remember is that Kaczur has not officially been IR'ed yet.

    Well written. Edelman needs to get healthy. Hernandez should also be looked at as part of this receiving corps, being that he's more of an H-Back than a natural TE. He should see the majority of his time in the slot, whee he lined up all preseason. I would love to see him lined up on the LOS too, though. Just as long as he isn't blocking.

    Ron Brace coming in and contributing would be a huge plus as of right now. I'm sorry, but Gerard Warren SUCKS against the run, and is not much better against the pass. Deaderick is an intriguing option. He has the size and the physical tools to be successful and has already played in a two gap 3-4 in college. He looked commendable in preseason, but didn't see much (if any) action against the ones. Another intriguing option to watch is the possibility of Love at NT, Wilfork at DE, and Brace at DE. But, yes, there are a TON of questions along this O-Line.

    This is the one spot on defense, aside from safety, where I have all of the confidence in the world. I really like Mayo and I like the nastiness that Spikes brings. A vanilla gameplan on defense would effect them more than most other positions, so I'm not reading too much into what I saw in the last two preseason games. Guyton is a good coverage LB as well, but I don't want to see him in against the run. McKenzie is an excellent back-up option at SILB on first, second, and short yardage third downs.

    Agreed on all counts, except I think we'll be seeing TBC and Murrell as the starters Week 1. I'm all but praying for Cunningham's health.

    We're definitely going to see some growing pains at CB this year. It comes with the territory. But the good news is that I like what I have seen of Wheatley so far. Hopefully his health holds up.

    I think Page will either be on par with McGowan, or will be a little worse. Both are hitters, but, from the video I've seen since we signed him compared with what I've read, McGowan seems to be the better coverage safety. Don't forget some of the weapons in the opposition's passing game that he took out last year (IE - Dallas Clark).
  8. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Also, if anybody is still reading this thread, they should tune into ABC immediately. I think North Carolina is about to come back from 20 points down against LSU. The Georgia Dome is so quiet that you can hear a gnat fart.
  9. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Per Reiss Connolly not only started the last preseason game, he also played on Special Teams: Kickoff Units

    Neal is who he is; we know he's an older player with an injury history, I was excited to see Ohrnberger starting in his place for the chance to see what he could show Dante - apparently not enough. However, Connolly playing on KR suggests NE isn't so concerned he might get dinged on STs, which argues for an adequate contingency already being in place. I've already said it elsewhere, but one such contingency may be that Kaczur is ready to start practicing again.
  10. JMarr

    JMarr Rookie

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    Our LBs have to step up in a big way. The Dline is pretty much sh!t at this point, which is scary for a BB defense. There's just no way to spin the Dline situation positively.

    I agree that Cunningham is the Wild Card. If we get nothing from him this year LB will be a "downgrade." I think Ninkovich has been and will be a pleasant surprise and that he and TBC can be solid, if unspectacular to start the season. But without Cunningham stepping up we have little depth unless BB somehow sticks Guyton on the outside (which I've been advocating for a while now). Not sold on Murrell at all.

    Should be very interesting. The O is going to have to put a lot of pressure on opposing teams, much like 2007.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  11. 5 Rings for Brady!!

    5 Rings for Brady!! Rookie

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    I have a feeling we will be looking closely at more OL and DL late signings/trades.
  12. Calciumee

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    #3 Jersey

    I know it's not a player upgrade; but Gost signed an extension this off season; so this is a small plus compared to last year!
  13. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    Fun is not exactly the word which comes to mind, I'm afraid.
  14. pencilneckgeek

    pencilneckgeek Rookie

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    I think those evaluations are fair. I'd differ at:

    ILB - NEUTRAL. Spikes makes us stronger against the run, but our ability to defend the pass on early downs, and especially against play action, is hurt with Spikes out there.

    KR - INCOMPLETE. Alexander, Woods, and Aiken all got cut yesterday. Crumpler's blocking and Tate/McCourty's return skills have been the most standout elements, but I'm not sold on an upgrade right now with our 3 of our top STers from last year cut.

    My biggest concern remains the downgrade on the OL/DL. That's where football is won and lost, and we lost more than a couple games last year, due in large part to this weakness. If everyone stays healthy, and the young guys step up on D, however, that could turn-out to be an UPGRADE over a line featuring an injured Ty Warren and Jarvis Green.
  15. Mack Herron

    Mack Herron Rookie

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    Bingo. The offense, you may recall, had a tough time on third and short last year, and the Giants preseason game looked all too familiar. They have the same backs and a weaker line.

    When last seen, this D was embarrassed by the Ravens who threw the ball exactly four times on their way to a 33-14 thrashing of our beloved defense that had trouble getting off the field all year on third down. Until the Patriots show they can stop the run, they will see lots of it. The guys they will be throwing at this weakness on the outside are names like Wright, G Warren, Brace, Banta Cain, Murrell, Cunningham, Ninkovich, etc. Let's hope they rise to the occasion, but there are some serious question marks on this team.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  16. ropese

    ropese Rookie

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    I am absolutey perplexed. We have no pass rush. What are the Pats doing to address the pass rush???
  17. borg

    borg Rookie

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    This offense has the chance to be EPIC...if....Edelman gets healthy. When you finish laughing, listen up. In 2007, when Brady was lighting it up , he had a 3 pronged attack....Welker short, Stallworth medium, and Moss long. The running game was an after thought, the TE was a fringe alternative, yet they set records. And if I remember correctly, the coaches lacked total faith in Stallworth.
    So why will this offense be better? Edelman and Gronk, our budding stars. Think about Moss and Welker, they get open, they require special attention, and they have great hands. What they don't do well is break tackles. Enter Brady's two new toys. Game 1 in preseason was eye opening (for those that forget how well Edelman performed in both week 16 and the playoff game last year). Edelman was the best player on the field IMO. His open field agility and tackle breaking was awesome. This guy can own the middle of the field, much like Miles Austin, with the similar strength to break leg tackles. Enter the Gronk. Clearly Brady loves this guy. I'm saying this now, Gronk could become Brady's new safety valve. Instead of searching for Welker at sea level, Brady may just prefer the ally oop. With Fred Taylor healthy, I'm confident the running attack will be effective, partially because the D will have their heads on swivels dealing with all the weapons. And of course Faulk will be as reliable as ever. Hernandez....gravy...I hope. This O could rival what will be going on in Green Bay, and definetely surpass New Orleans, now that the league has digested last years tapes.
    I can't wait for Brady to reign supreme once again.
    And the D.....not so much.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  18. Horace's Ivories

    Horace's Ivories PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Wheatley has really good leaping ability though - as long as he doesnt land on his wrist he should be ok
  19. cstjohn17

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  20. patsfan13

    patsfan13 Hall of Fame Poster PatsFans.com Supporter

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    You even left off Tate who IMO will be better than Stallworth, great set of weapons.
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