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Pats Pre-Free Agency Review - Offense

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by DaBruinz, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    Well, this is my 1st off-season review for this year. Call it the Pre-Free Agency / Pre-Combine review. For the purpose of this review, I am going to consider ERFA and RFA as part of the team.


    QB - Brady, Cassel, - Cassel showed that he has real potential. The Pats went for several weeks last season without a veteran back-up until they brought in Vinny Testaverde. This will be Cassel’s 3rd year wth the team and could be his last depending on how he performs in pre-season. The Pats usually sign a youngster either as a UDFA or draft a QB late for TC. It will be interesting to see if Vinny returns for one more run or if the Patriots bring in a different veteran.

    Free Agents: Vinny Testaverde (
    UFA)

    RB – Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney, Earl Charles– Big question marks here beyond Maroney. Why? Because Dillon will be 32 and made some comments about retiring right after the Colts game. Were they heat of the moment words or were they real? We won’t know for awhile. Regardless, Dillon wasn’t exactly the “Clock Killin” Dillon we were all used to. Yes, he split time with Maroney, but he also was injured yet again.

    Kevin Faulk is on the wrong side of 30 now and he was injured again. When healthy, he’s one of the best 3rd down backs in the league. The problem is keeping him healthy.
    Earl Charles spent the year on the NFLE IR list.

    I can definitely see the Pats drafting another RB regardless of what Dillon does. Brian Leonard is an intriguing prospect as the new hybrid back to Faulk. Other players include Tony Hunt and Lorenzo Booker.

    In free agency, the Pats could look to Ahman Green, Domenic Rhodes, or Marcel Shipp.

    Free Agents: Earl Charles (ERFA)

    FB – Heath Evans, Quadtrine Hill – Evans is what he is. An average FB. He has average running skills and average to above average blocking skills. He has average receiving skills. Unfortunately, the Pats had to rely on him in a critical situation and Brady obviously didn’t trust him.

    Hill supposedly excels as a receiver out of the backfield and is a solid straight-line runner.
    Garrett Mills was mentioned as a possible FB/TE/H-back type player in the mold of Chris Cooley, but he red-shirted last season and will need to work through camp to get onto the roster.

    I could see the Pats drafting Leonard to do work at both FB and RB and giving the Pats a lot more versatility out of the backfield.
    Free Agents: Patrick Pass (UFA)

    O-Line – Matt Light, Nick Kaczur, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Russ Hochstein, Wesley Britt, Stephen Neal, Gene Mruczkowski, Billy Yates, Sean Bubin, Ryan O’Callaghan, Brian Barthelmes- 4 of the 5 starters seem to be set with Light, Mankins, Koppen and Neal from left to right. The question mark is RT where the Pats will have Kaczur, Britt, O’Callaghan and Bubin fighting it out next season. Hochstein continues to be a solid reserve. Yates is an RFA and should be back. If not, then Mruczkowski will be more than happy to stick around.


    The Pats have 11 O-linemen signed or probably tendered, including Yates and Mruczkowski. Many of whom are signed through 2009. The Pats may draft a C/G type player. I don’t see them taking an OT in the draft unless someone they absolutely love and feel will immediately start over Light or O’Callaghan or Kaczur falls to them

    Look for a couple of JAG guards in free agency.

    Free Agents: Billy Yates (RFA), Gene Mruczkowski (ERFA), Wesley Britt (ERFA)


    TE – Ben Watson, David Thomas, Garrett Mills, Rodney Trafford – Graham is a
    UFA. I hope that the Pats re-sign him as he is a monster blocking and he can make the catch when called upon. The issue has been his durability, which reared its head again this season. Ben Watson was Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde this year. But part of the is the fact that he was under abnormal pressure to be the top receiver on the team. David Thomas had 1 good game, then disappeared. Garrett Mills was a game-day scratch until he was finally given the medical red-shirt with Pass going active.

    With how Watson played, I definitely would like Graham back. Especially since neither can seem to stay on the field for more than a few games. Maybe a 3 man rotation with Thomas would help their longevity.


    Free Agents: Daniel Graham (UFA)

    WR- Jabar Gaffney, “BAM”
    Childress, Chad Jackson, Reche’ Caldwell, Zuriel Smith, Kelvin Kight, Jonathan Smith – We had to live through the lies last year from Meion.. err…. Deion Branch after Given left for a 5 year deal worth $24 million. Neither Branch nor Givens were spectacular last year. The Pats attempted to shore things up with a trade for Doug Gabriel, but Gabriel refused to be coached and did his own thing and was released.
    Currently, the Pats have Caldwell and Gaffney as their starters. Both took some time to get used to the system and both seemed to click in the play-offs until the Colts game where Caldwell had 1 major drop. Kelvin Kight beat out Bam Childress for a roster spot and it wasn’t until the end of the season that Bam was re-signed of the Pats practice squad.
    Troy Brown is again contemplating retirement.
    Chad Jackson is a major question mark, though a report from his High School coach was that Jackson needed at least a year to learn a system. If that is the case, we should expect big things out of Jackson this year.
    Bringing in someone like Kevin Curtis or Drew Bennett could help this corps become solid the way it was in 2003. Kight or Jackson stepping up could also solidify this group.

    Free Agents:Troy Brown, “Bam” Childress (ERFA), Kelvin Kight (ERFA), Zuriel Smith (ERFA)
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  2. Jimke

    Jimke Rookie

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    One problem at wide receiver is that both Caldwell and Gaffney are only

    signed thru 2007. Hope they do get another guy.
  3. SeanBruschi54

    SeanBruschi54 Rookie

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    #24 Jersey

    Or one will end up being successfully better than the other and the Patriots will sign one of them and let the other walk.

    Late in the season that person was Gaffney, showed great concentration and hands in the playoffs but still managed a couple of screw ups. Reche dropped a few balls.
  4. stinkypete

    stinkypete Rookie

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    We should work on extending both. If Jackson emerges to his potential, then we have what we need to be a dynamic passing offense again. If Jackson does not emerge, Caldwell and Gaffney made for a solid 2a and 2b punch, with one piece missing.
  5. ATippett56

    ATippett56 Rookie

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  6. Remix 6

    Remix 6 Rookie

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    if Dillon is gone..we might look at Sammy Morris from Dolphins or Anthony Thomas from bills

    Morris had a huge game against us ..not sure hes a power back but i think he played FB and RB...Thomas is a power back or is supposed to be 1 but stats dont really indicate. Davenport is also an option..he finishes with power
  7. everlong

    everlong Rookie

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    The offensive line really came together as far as pass blocking goes as the year went on but it seemed like there was a d-lineman or lb in the back field on running plays constantly. I felt that issue was at the tackle position on both sides. I also felt that O'Callahan was very good in both the run and the passing games and I think he is going to own the RT spot as long as he can stay healthy. Our interior three is solid.
  8. ilduce06410

    ilduce06410 Rookie

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  9. PATRIOTS-80

    PATRIOTS-80 Rookie

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    I definitely see a young pile-driving RB to compliment Maroney down the road. Kevin Curtis would be a nice addition.
  10. Keegs

    Keegs Rookie

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    The Pats should make a move to get Joe Horn for cheap after the Saints cut him.

    They don't need him anymore and he could really help us out.

    If N.O. keeps him they are morons.
  11. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    The Patriots offensive talent will be fine for next year. Here's hoping Josh McDaniels self-scouts himself and improves as a coordinator and play-caller.
  12. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    Nice report.

    Solid breakdown on a unit by unit basis. Areas to watch.

    RB & FB - I am not sure how many roster spots they will want to use at RB/FB. They played most of last years with 4 (Dillion, Maroney, Faulk, Evans) Mills was the FB/TE/Hybrid but didn't see a lot of action. Another body wouldn't hurt as Faulk / Dillion can't be relied upon to stay healthy.

    The FB position will be interesting, I am not as high or Mills as some folks. I don't think Mills has the correct body type to be a tradional FB or TE and lacks the bulk to be a consistent blocker at either posiiton. I think a FB (Evans or others) help add a physical style of play to the running attack and the overall roster is weaker if they don't have a sledgehammer at FB.

    WR - Not as strong FA class, definitely a position to watch during the draft. Deep position for the draft and a the WR unit is the worst of the Patriots offensive groups. I think we will see a Day 1 WR selected.
    Round 1- Ginn, Meachem, Bowe, Jarrett, Rice
    Round 2 - Gonzales, Higgins, Davis,
    Round 3 - Smith, Stuckney
  13. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    Bowe and Meachem are potentials. I think Stuckney is being compared to Branch.

    I just don't see the Pats taking a day 1 pick at WR. Its unlikely that this player would have an impact this year unless they are quick studies regarding the route running and are willing to be coached.
  14. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Some of it will depend on Troy Brown, I think they draft a player, maybe someone like Higgins who has experience as a returner. Any draft pick would be at best looking at the 4th spot, more likely the 5th spot.

    After learning the system they could take on more reps in the regular offense in 2008. I don't think both Gaffney and Caldwell will be brought back.
  15. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    People have mentioned Chris Davis as someone the Pats have talked to. From what I see, he would be Troy Brown's replacement. Kid is touted as a clutch receiver with a good field of vision and awareness to come back towards the line when he sees a blitz. Supposedly runs very good routes as well and has good hands.
  16. patsfan55

    patsfan55 Rookie

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    #95 Jersey

    i def wouldnt mind seein us pick up bobby engram, which ive been sayin since september
  17. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thanks for an excellent analysis.

    QB
    I don't feel comfortable with Cassell as backup. I wonder if bb does?

    RB/FB
    Leonard is indeed an intriguing prospect.

    OL
    No needs at all.

    TE
    It's Graham, a free agent, or we'll be cringing as we pick a Day One TE.

    WR
    We have to find improvement from somewhere.


  18. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress Rookie

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    I look forward to Maroney being the feature back and have no reservations about his abilities. He will be stronger, faster, better at reading defenses, better at blocking, better at receiving, ready to assume a leadership role in the offense. The blocking scheme will be adjusted to suit his strengths as a slasher.

    I would also like to see the Pats acquire RFA RB Mewelde Moore from Minnesota if feasible. He did not play a prominent role in the Childress offense, and I doubt Minn will tender him. He has played 32 straight games, shedding his early durability concerns. He can returns punts effectively (see Pats vs Minn, 2006). He is a quality receiver out of the backfield and can run the ball in spot duty. IOW, He is a young Kevin Faulk. The real Faulk is never a guarantee to last 16 games.

    As far as receiver is concerned, I am tempering my enthusiasm for Chad Jackson. I still believe in his future and his ability, but I see him having a good but unspectacular year in '07, like 40 catches, as he fights for playing time with Gaffney and Caldwell. That said, if Robert Meachem of Tennessee is available at #24, he may be too good a player to pass on in the draft; he is Chad Jackson with the right attitude. However, Meachem will probably run a 4.3 at the combine and shoot up to the 2nd receiver, past the smaller Ted Ginn, the slower Dwayne Jarrett and Dwayne Bowe. I don't feel any of those other receivers are worth the Pats' #24 pick. Bowe is talented, but more a west coast offense player that doesn't fit the Pats scheme, which values quickness over size and power.

    At TE, I am extremely high on David Thomas and believe he will become the #1 TE sooner rather than later. He will become Brady's best on-field friend. He is a reliable target, a gritty blocker and a clutch player, a champion. While Graham is the superior blocker, Thomas brings his owns strengths to the field, and the Pats' O will morph to take advantage of them. If resigning Graham means less of Thomas, I would prefer Graham leave.

    On the O-line, the present group is adequate if not spectacular and there seems no need to address the Tackle position in the draft, as some feared earlier after Light put up a few stinker regular season performances.

    At Qb, Cassell is reaching the point where he may become prime trade bait. For that reason, the Pats should draft or acquire another capable back-up this season. My preference would be Tim Rattay, UFA from TB, or maybe Tyler Palko, Pitt QB in the draft.

    The most important improvement the O can make is with the continued maturation of Josh McDaniels. In the little behind the scenes footage we have seen of Josh, he appears to be a bright and extremely emotional coach, who cares deeply about his responsibilities and is no doubt putting everything he has into this team. I consider him an asset to the organization, and believe the best is yet to come. After the Miami debacle, the Pats averaged 33 points per game over the last 6, including 3 playoff games. If I can quibble with McDaniels, I believe one flaw may be his inability to control his emotions. He seems to get caught up in the moment, and does not always play it smart. For instance, the 2 point conversion vs. SD was a play everyone, including SD, knew was coming. It shouldn't have worked. Luckily it did, but the call was unimaginative and predictable. Similarly, on the most important play of the season, the 3rd and 4 pass to Troy Brown, the play call was predictable. Josh seems at some crucial moments to be operating a step behind the better coordinators in the league. I also fear he defers to Brady too much, and abandons the run game too quickly in deference to his star Qb, giving the impression he may be slightly "star-struck". While probably not the case, he has to show the gumption to stand up and call running plays when the situation deserves it, such as in the last 4 minutes vs. Indy after the long pass to Graham to the Indy 29. Instead, 2 incompletes, and Manning has more time at the end of regulation to engineer the winning drive.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  19. rookBoston

    rookBoston Rookie

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    Nice post.

    My only criticism is that you've over-panned Heath Evans. He may not be a pro-bowler, but he's more than a JAG. He's a reliable, versatile player, who can block, catch, run inside and swing outside-- excellent situational player.

    That said, I'm a big Brian Leonard fan, and imagining a backfield of Moroney and Leonard playing for the Pats for the next five years is mighty tempting.
  20. PATRIOTS-80

    PATRIOTS-80 Rookie

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    I agree about Maroney. And I am very interested about Moore...

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