I'm here to make some bold statements and predictions regarding next year's Patriots season. I've been put off by the criticism targeted at my squad since their poor performance in the AFC Championship game. Shots have been taken at Brady, Belichick, and the organization as a whole. But I assure you, these critics will be silenced before it is all said and done. This Patriots team is not regressing next year; in fact, they will be drastically better. Here's why.

1) Brady and Belichick are Bosses: Having recently been outplayed and out coached by the Ravens at home on a big stage, now isn't the easiest time to support these two as the G.O.AT.S in the court of public opinion. But the numbers speak for themselves. In their time together, B & B have racked up 124 regular season victories, the most by any coach/QB tandem ever, won 3 rings, and been to 5 Super Bowls total. And they have stomped on D-Backs, media members, and record books along the way. Brady may be getting older. And yes, I'd admit he is past his prime. But Tom Brady past his prime is still probably the best quarterback in the league. Shit, barring any injuries, I think this could be the case when he is 40. Belichick and Brady are both fierce competitors, and they both must be pretty tired of hearing how their time has come. Together they will carry the team and organization to another ring before they hang up their cleats and hoodies, respectively.

This will happen again
2) Young Talent: Coming into this year, the Patriots had the ninth youngest team in the NFL, with an average age of 25.8. More important than that number though, is the talent behind it. And a very impressive young core of talent has been assembled around Bill and Tom. These players will all continue to improve: Gronk, Hernandez, Ridley, Vereen, Jones, Hightower, Dennard, Solder and more are all going to become better players, and together create a group of young players that will allow the Patriots teams of the future to compete in the long run. And of course, they have the opportunity to add more talent in the upcoming draft.

Hell Yeah

3) Return of the Gronk/Hernandez Tandem: Together, these two are perhaps the most important of the aforementioned group. Despite being one of the most dominant forces in the NFL, Gronk has proven to be injury prone in his young career. His playing style and a few freak plays have left him sidelined during critical moments for the team in recent years. His presence was dearly missed as the Patriots faltered again and again against the Raven's tough D. Hernandez also struggled with injuries this year and never really looked like the lightning fast, mismatch nightmare we once knew him to be. This year, with Gronk and Hernandez unhealthy for large portions of the year, and rarely playing at the same time, New England still had the best offense in the league, leading the NFL in both PPG (34.8) and yards per game (427.9). The return of Gronkowski and Hernandez together and healthy should terrify NFL defenses. Let's hope both can stay on the field.

4) Offseason Improvements: The Patriot's obvious weakness is their secondary. Their defense as a whole is shaky, at best. This unit is still the one that Bill and Bob should be focused on improving in the off-season. It will be interesting to see what direction the team goes in the draft. I believe they will use their picks again to add depth and talent to the defensive side of the ball.

But what I think the defense could really use is some veterans. I have to admit, the reports of Ed Reed coming to New England the past few days have got me thinking about what a great fit he could be here. The infusion of a supreme veteran talent and mind like Reed to offer guidance to the Patriot's talented but susceptible secondary would be phenomenal. He has stated he would love to be a coach some day. I could see the Patriot's secondary as his potential first project.

The offense will be fine. Brady already has an arsenal of weapons around him. With Scarnecchia heading up one of the strongest O-line units in the league, Brady could only be more protected if he had a fucking moat out there. Although I wouldn't mind seeing them add a true deep threat (Mike Wallace?) for Brady to work with.

5) Increasing sense of urgency: Listen, I can admit that the Belichick/Brady era may be winding down, but it is not over. That being said, I think the same sense of urgency being felt throughout the fan base for the team to get another title permeates the organization as a whole. There is no doubt both Tom and Bill want to go down as the greatest  to ever do their jobs; and another title (or two) would justify the arguments on their behalves  I believe this sense of urgency will lead to the team doing everything in their power, in the draft, free agency, and off-season as a whole, to make the Patriots better than ever.

I hope.


Liam Cunningham 1/30/2013 09:37:00 PM Edit

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