Earlier tonight on the NFL Network’s flagship program “NFL Total Access,” host Rich Eisen and co-hosts/panelists Warren Sapp and Michael Lombardi discussed the state of the Patriots’ franchise. “State of the Franchise” is popular segment of the show during the offseason where the panelists discuss where a team is at, what is has done thus far to improve, and how it can get better, with a focus on the draft. If you’d like to view the entire segment, click here. Below I highlighted what I thought were some of the more interesting or noteworthy statements made, including my reaction.
- Michael Lombardi felt that the main reason Ben Watson was not retained by the team was due to his lack of comfort running routes. This may explain why he was not a consistent target for Tom Brady – he didn’t run the right routes often enough.
- The primary strategy this offseason was to keep a strong, core group of players to build around. This was evidenced by the re-signing of Vince Wilfork, Stephen Neal, Leigh Bodden, and Kevin Faulk. It was also mentioned that included in the strong core are the young players from the last draft that made the team. I would concur with that if players continue their development, especially tackle Sebastian Vollmer and WR’s Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate, then the Pats may have that next generation of core players for the next 5 years.
- The primary concerns among the panelists were WR and LB. Sapp wondered who would be the #2 guy, especially with Wes Welker likely starting the year on the PUP list. I wonder the same thing, but there’s still the draft and possible late veteran signings/trades that could fill that void. Linebacker has been discussed heavily already around here but included in that was simply increasing the overall speed of the defense through youth.
- Warren Sapp included an interesting note: the Patriots red zone defense was very poor, being scored on 60% of the time.
- Michael Lombardi mentioned that Bill Belichick values heavily second-round picks because they yield quality talent at a more reasonable cost than first-round picks. That’s a good thing, because the Pats have three second-rounders. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pats keep all three, though history suggests they’ll be moving around a bit on draft day. Lombardi’s first round pick for the Pats was Michigan LB Brandon Graham.
- The panel feels the Pats’ defense will improve most notably because Belichick will be more active with the defense.
- Finally, Lombardi said that the Pats need to develop a, and I quote, “Quarterback of the future.” Are you kidding me? Tom Brady is only 32, and could easily go another 5 or 6 years. A young QB will wait that long on the bench? I think “experts” are trying to make the case that the Pats will be drafting Florida QB Tim Tebow by ginning up fake reasons to do so. Do the Pats need pick up another QB to back-up Brady and Brian Hoyer? Absolutely. However, I would be really careful about discussing the QB of the future already with a Hall-of-Fame QB on the roster. You may end up with the Donovan McNabb scenario.