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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2014 Patriots going for broke in an attempt to win a championship

Julian+Edelman+had+a+great+outing+against+the+Vikings
Julian Edelman had a great outing against the Vikings

The Patriots haven’t won a championship in the last ten years but luckily, Tom Brady and the boys are back to provide the city with the level of play that Boston sports fans have become accustomed to. Following January’s 26-16 loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, owner Robert Kraft and Head Coach Bill Belichick used the off-season to reload on both sides of the ball in hopes of a return to the conference title game and — ultimately — the Super Bowl.
It’s difficult to comprehend that the last Super Bowl win for the Patriots was now a decade ago. The team has consistently been one of the top teams in the AFC and has won their division title in all but one season (2008) since their win in Super Bowl XXXIX. However, this consistent regular season success has not necessarily translated into postseason success.
Defensive inconsistency has plagued the team in recent years, with the Patriots ranked 25th or worse in the NFL in yards per game given up by the defense. In fact, the Patriots are only 9-8 in the postseason since the 2004 championship season.
After losing Aqib Talib to the Broncos in the early stages of free agency, the Patriots made it a point to beef up on defense, signing two high profile cornerbacks: Brandon Browner, a former member of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense, who will miss the first four games due to a suspension stemming from a substance abuse policy violation, and former Jets and Buccaneers corner Darrelle Revis, argued by many NFL experts to be the best defensive back in the game. The Patriots also extended the contract of nose tackle, Vince Wilfork, drafted defensive tackle, Dominique Easley from Florida, and brought back safety, Patrick Chung, after one season with the Philadelphia Eagles. They will be getting Wilfork and linebacker, Jerod Mayo, back from injury.
On the offensive side of the ball, the headline is the long awaited return of Rob Gronkowski. Gronk played in only seven games last season before tearing his ACL in a game against the Cleveland Browns, but during those seven games he caught thirty-nine passes for 592 yards and four touchdowns. If Gronk can remain healthy for the sixteen game season, he remains the biggest offensive weapon that the Patriots have.
One of the question marks still remaining for the Patriots entering the season is the situation at the running back position. The team currently has Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and rookie, James White, from Wisconsin on the roster, but questions remain about the group. The talent is certainly there between the four, but many analysts have noted Ridley’s penchant for fumbling the ball as a major issue that still remains. If his inability to hold onto the ball continues early on in this campaign, it may be up to the other three backs to carry the majority of the load for the remainder of the season.
The curious trade of Logan Mankins earlier this week may destabilize the running game as a whole, especially for the first few weeks of the season.
Another question mark for the team is what to do with receiver, Brian Tyms. The former Florida A&M receiver has done well for himself during the preseason, turning in a five catch, 119 yard performance with a touchdown against Washington in preseason Week One, and followed it up with a three catch, twenty-nine yard performance with another touchdown against the Eagles in preseason Week Two. Tyms, if kept on the fifty-three man roster, would miss the first four games of the regular season due to a violation of the league’s PED policy stemming from Adderall use despite a prescription due to ADHD. With the group of receivers the Patriots have on the team, it may be difficult for Tyms to make it past the final roster cut, but he has shown his ability to play within the Patriots offense this preseason.
New England has made great strides this off-season in upping the talent on both sides of the ball. Tom Brady will not have an offense filled with rookie receivers and is expected to have his biggest weapon back and healthy for the majority of the season. The team has improved greatly on the defensive side of the ball as well by bringing in one of the best cornerbacks in the game today. Many experts and analysts predict that the AFC Championship may be a rematch of last year’s game against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, and that may very well be what Belichick and Brady want. Regardless, expect the Patriots to have another great year and win the AFC East division crown for a sixth straight season.