2015 NFL Preview: New England Patriots

2015 NFL Preview: New England Patriots

Ugh. Where to begin with the defending Super Bowl champions? Okay, they hoisted Lombardi for the fourth time in the Belichick-Brady era back in February, capitalizing on one of the most questionable if not downright stupid goal line playcalls in recent memory. So they got that going for them. On the other hand, Golden Boy Tom is suspended (pending appeal) for the first four games of the 2015 season after being implicated in the crime of the century fiasco known as “Deflategate.” Then there’s Brady’s moronic agent, Don Yee, who suggested the NFL and Indianapolis Colts were in cahoots to frame Brady and the Pats. Then there’s owner Robert Kraft being conspicuously out of the country during Brady’s appeal hearing yesterday. Then there’s the front office standing idly by as a boatload of players who helped them win said Super Bowl joined other teams. Needless to say, it’s been a tumultuous five months for the Pats. Here’s a preview of their 2015 season.

Outlook: Eight skilled free agents left town. Matinee idol Jimmy Garoppolo might be under center for Weeks 1-4. The running back depth behind LeGarrette Blount is suspect. Both starting cornerbacks are new. Rob Gronkowski is overdue for a 4-6 week ailment. Other than that, New England should be fine. In all seriousness, this roster lost a lot of talent in the offseason. Sure, some of it was aging and probably replaceable, but even Belichick can’t just shrug stoically and turn the page. This team is two or three key injuries away from being average with or without Brady.

Later, dude: Here we go: Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork, Brandon Browner, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Kyle Arrington, Akeem Ayers, and Johnathan Casillas. Of those eight, Revis, Wilfork, and Vereen will be missed the most. Tossing aside how important Revis was to the 2014 Super Bowl run is naive; he made the entire secondary better, including safety Devin McCourty, who the front office did retain. Add in Browner’s and Arrington’s departures and the league’s deepest secondary is relying on Logan Ryan, Justin Green, and Bradley Fletcher to pick up the slack. That’s mega risky to say the least.

Welcome aboard: Travaris Cadet may end up being one of the most important signings in free agency. His numbers as a Saint aren’t anything to gawk over, but he has a skill-set similar to Vereen, and in the Patriots’ high percentage/up tempo attack, a back who can catch is critical. Eleven draft picks were selected in April, led by Wilfork replacement Malcolm Brown, and guard TreĀ“ Jackson; both are candidates to see significant action. Tight end Scott Chandler and linebacker Jonathan Freeny bring solid depth to their respective positions.

Over/Under wins – 10.5: Let’s say Garropolo lights it up and goes 4-0. Then Brady shreds his groin in his first game back. Then Garropolo leads the team back to the Super Bowl. It would be a tantalizing mix of cruel irony and karma, and somewhere Drew Bledsoe would be smiling. If the AFC East stinks again, it’s 11 wins. If the division improves, it’s 10 at the most.

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