NFL Network highlights the Pats' "State of the Franchise"

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.

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  • Kevros

    It seems that in the last year or two fans and media have decided that after a player turns 30 there needs to be a replacement waiting on the bench. Maybe it’s because the rule of 30 has been so accurate for RBs lately. I don’t know, but I agree with you. There is no need for the Pats to be drafting Brady’s intended replacement. By the time said replacement is better than Brady (if ever) their contract will be expired. And why Tebow, of all QBs???

    • jamie

      Kevros – I hear ya there. I just don’t understand what the obsession is with the future when the present situation (at QB) is perfectly fine, and will be (barring injury) for years.

      Kellie – Great point. Can you imagine someone discussing Peyton’s successor on TV?

      Brent – Thanks for that heads up! I just got home from work (6 pm) so that was something nice to come home to.

      Nathan & Lance – I have to agree with Lance. I don’t see Marshall fitting into that locker room, and you can bet that Belichick has all the information he needs about Brandon Marshall. I don’t see it happening, though trading for another veteran WR is a possibility.

  • Kellie

    I thought the exact same this when I heard the “Quarterback of the future” comment. So I guess this means Indy must REALLY be looking for a QB of the future since Manning is older than Brady.

  • Brent

    Well done Jamie! You made ESPN Boston Mike Riess’ column!

  • Nathan Entzel

    The closer we get to the draft, the more chance i see the Pats trading their (not Oak) 1st rounder next year for Brandon Marshall. I just cannot see BB going into the year without a solid number 2. And lets face it, Randy is not what he was 2 years ago. Injuries, age, and coverages have slowed him down. He needs someone like Marshall to take the pressure off of him. And then after Moss’ contract expires this year, we already have a servicable replacement.

  • Lance

    Sorry Nathan but there’s been a huge emphasis this offseason on citizenship type players. Marshall is not one and is actually very high maintenance.

    Also, the Pats typically draft a QB every year in the later rounds. But according to those that know the team the current 2nd stringer (Hoyer) fits the bill nicely.

  • Nathan Entzel

    Although i respect your opinion, the facts are wrong. All things that Brandon Marshall is now, Corey Dillon was, and Randy Moss was. I think that most of Brandon’s problems stemmed from a erogant coach coming in and alienating and getting rid of his best friend (Cutler). If Jay would have stayed, Marshall would have acted differently, i guarantee it.

    I do not think, as much as i cannot stand the broncos, that arguably 3 of their best offensive players (Cutler, Marshall, and Schefler) all had issues. I think those three were close to Shannahan and did not like how that was handled, so they rebelled.

    I read somewhere in the last week that a source said that Tom and Josh didnt speak for a large portion of the season cause they didnt see eye to eye. The reason we didnt hear about it, is because Josh was the OC not the HC.

    I am telling you now, if Brandon comes into New England, he will be a much different character.

    I look at it this way. Could we draft any player in round 1 that could have the same impact on the team this year, or in the next two years as big as Marshall? I do not think so. It is important that we think long term, but at the same time, we have the best QB in the league for the next 3-5 years. After that, it is up in the air if he will continue to play at the same level he is now.

  • jamie


    You make good points. There’s no arguing that Marshall is, right now, better than any prospect the Pats could draft. Corey Dillon and Randy Moss were also both considered malcontents before coming here, though I think that the strong locker room that was already in place when they arrived helped ease their transition to the team.

    I don’t want to sound like I would be upset if Marshall came to New England, because I certainly would enjoy watching him catch touchdowns from Tom Brady. I just don’t think it’s likely to happen. I could be wrong. I never thought Belichick would trade for Randy Moss.

    One more thing to consider is how similar are Belichick and McDaniels behind the scenes with players? If they are two peas in a pod in how they deal with players, the Pats may not get better results than Josh did.

  • Pascal

    I also believe that a lot of Marshall’s problems were due to circumstance, derront williams murder, all his friends leaving town, but he was still acting immaturely. Corey Dillion and Randy Moss were just upset with their roles on their teams. You never saw them acting up in practice and undermining their coaches and owner. It’s unfair and misguided to put all malcontents in a pool together.

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  • Forest Rouzer

    Very good write-up!

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