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Reasons for Optimism

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by ivanvamp, Jul 17, 2012.

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  1. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp Rookie

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    I'm getting pumped for the start of camp coming up soon. It's going to be 100 degrees at my house today in CT, but I'm already turning my attention toward the upcoming football season. Unlike (and not that everyone here cares) the lead-up to the baseball season, when I was as unenthusiastic as I have ever been about a Red Sox team, I am as excited as I can ever remember about a Patriots team. Here are my reasons for optimism.

    1. They have some of the best leadership in the game of football today. I look at the tomfoolery that goes on on Yawkey Way, and it's an easy contrast with how the Patriots do business. Robert Kraft is a tremendous owner. And I think Jonathan Kraft is solid as well. They have the best head coach in the game. And yes, he's good at drafting too. And they have a premier on-field leader in Tom Brady. Essentially, from the very top down, this team is loaded with quality leaders.

    2. The NFL is a quarterback league, and the Patriots have the best QB in the game. Yes, he's 35. But he's coming off the greatest 2-year stretch in NFL history at the QB position. 65.7%, 9135 yds, 75 td, 16 int, 108.0 rating, just otherworldly numbers. He appears to be as driven and motivated as ever, and I think the "Brady Window" still has a few more years for him to be an elite player. Eventually he'll slip into the "still damned good" tier, but right now, he's the elite of the elite.

    3. The offensive weaponry is astounding. Again, it would be nice if they had a Steel Curtain kind of defense, but we know that's not the case. What they do have, however, is a potentially record-setting offense. Incredibly deep and versatile and talented offensive line. Unbelievable set of tight ends that allow them to do pretty much anything they want on offense (run, pass, power game, spread, you name it). A terrific group of wide receivers that gives a defense all kinds of looks (possession with Welker, deep with Lloyd, intermediate routes with Gaffney and Branch). They have experience, speed, great hands, toughness...pretty much everything you'd want in a receiving corps. And then the RB group is also strong, with a bunch of young and explosive runners who can also catch the ball. In sum, this team could potentially break the '07 Patriots' scoring record.

    4. Their defense is young and very much on the upswing. I've run these numbers before, but I'll post them again here because this stuff matters. Last year's stats...

    - first 4 games
    * 24.5 pts allowed
    * 477.5 yds allowed
    * 368.8 pass yds allowed

    - last 12 games
    * 20.3 pts allowed
    * 388.9 yds allowed
    * 269.0 pass yds allowed

    - playoffs
    * 17.0 pts allowed
    * 348.6 yds allowed
    * 224.0 pass yds allowed

    - last 15 games (12 reg. season + 3 playoffs)
    * 19.6 pts allowed
    * 380.9 yds allowed
    * 260.0 pass yds allowed

    So compare their first four games with their last 15:

    PPG: 24.5 --> 19.6
    TYDS: 477.5 --> 380.9
    PYDS: 368.8 --> 260.0

    Clearly they are not dominant, but those last 15 games' worth of stats represent a colossal improvement over the first four.

    Plus, they've added a bunch of good young players on defense that should help.

    5. There are no dominant teams in the AFC. In fact, one could argue that the Pats are the only dominant team in the conference. Pittsburgh should be good, as should Baltimore and Houston. But does anyone really fear anyone in the AFC West? How about the South, besides Houston? Cincinnati in the North? The Jets? Seriously? The Pats will lose a few games but they stand the best chance of any team in the conference at getting the #1 seed and HFA throughout the playoffs. No, that isn't always the ticket to the Super Bowl, but it does give a team the best advantage to get there.

    There are reasons for concern with this team, but as they head into camp, I'm as optimistic and excited as ever about a Patriots' team.
  2. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    Great post - nice breakdown. No arguments here, I am right there with you. This offseason has been a tough one after another SB loss to the NYG, but looking ahead to what's in front of us is the best medicine. Hopes are high for good reason.

    The trend of the defense is a nice one to see. I think it reverted in the SB despite the number of points scored; TOP and yardage were abysmal, and that's the real problem. But it was addressed rather aggressively with Jones-Hightower-Bequette; they've potentially solidified the back end with a healthy Dowling, and the addition of Wilson and Allen.

    The only thing left to do is get Carter back in the fold, and I think this defense might start helping this team win games, instead of just trying to tread water.

    When you put all the pieces together that were at times missing last year - healthy Spikes, healthy Chung, healthy/stable McCourty; I'm legitimately excited about this defense. I think Jones will contribute, and contribute immediately, and people will be surprised the level of impact we'll get out of a young, athletic, long pass rusher who can push, use his arms and not just sprint in a straight line along the edge.
  3. supafly

    supafly PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    Oh, there are plenty of reasons to be very optimistic. Nice breakdown by the OP on the improvements that were made after the first 4 games, although I do believe that some of that was the schedule too. They certainly were not quite as bad as some made them out to be on defense, but they also had their moments throughout the season that definitely need improvement too.

    I do believe that the defense will have made an improvement or two in some areas, and even the smallest improvement can go a long way depending upon other variables of course. I would expect more of a middle of the pack, late teens/early 20's for passing yds allowed, and I also think the potential is there to shave a point or two off of the average pts allowed, which would take this defense even further.

    The secondary should have some improvements, although it would be hard to take a step back in that area too. Health will be a key issue, so hopefully we can get somewhat lucky in that dept this year as well. I like what I saw from Moore and Dowling when healthy. McCourty will be the biggest wildcard in my opinion. Arrington's potential to move to the slot will be another strength too, as I loved what I saw in that role. Allen, Gregory, and Wilson are surely some guys to keep a close eye on, as is Dennard. If we can stay healthy and any one of those guys can step up and have a good year, then the secondary should be a lot better.

    I think it'll all be about adding a key vet or two to the defensive line as TC wraps up and the regular season approaches. Having enough depth in that area is obviously a key. If someone like Castillo would possibly work out, I'd be a lot more optimistic in the depth department. There will be almost 900 players and potential vets who will be cut in the last week of TC too, and that should offer a nice look at a defensive line player or two.

    I do not have a good feeling about the odds of A.Carter coming back, and haven't for quite some time now. It just seems too strange to me that there hasn't been more talk from the team's standpoint, which has led me to believe that they have already made up their minds. When they moved up twice in the first rd of the draft, I just had a gut feeling that they had already pretty much assumed that Carter would not be back. The talk throughout the offseason regarding his injury has not done much to change my mind, and it's an unfortunate situation for sure.
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