Myself and fellow author Jaime are headed to morning session training camp tomorrow. Here are some issues and areas to think about and improve on to move up from 9th spot in the first ESPN power rankings of the year.
1. Linebacker – Once the most terrifying position of the Pats defense, this years linebacking core is starting to get very thin. As Jaime reported yesterday, the Pats cut OLB Shawn Crable who played sparingly in his two years. Now, it is reported by ESPN that Derrick Burgess, who has yet to come to camp, is considering retirement. If this does happen, the Pats will be paper thin at linebacker with only Tully Banta-Cain and Pierre Woods as notable players at the OLB position. Might as well DE to list also since the Pats had no pass rush last year and have not made much of an improvement on that front.
2. Runningback – We know that the Pats are going to score a ton of points throwing the ball, and i love the addition of Tory Holt opposite Randy Moss on the field. Plus, mighty mouse himself Wes Welker will somehow remarkably be able to play this season. Question is, who is going to run the ball? Personally, i love Laurence Maroney but, for some reason, he has always been in coach Belichick’s dog house. Do not blame the fumbles either. Last year Maroney fumbled the ball four times and lost 3; meanwhile Adrian Peterson fumbled seven times and lost six. Yet, every time Maroney lost the ball, he got yanked out of the game. Give the kid a chance, let him build some confidence, and he will be fine. Maybe even a sleeper fanatsy pick of mine.
3. Offensive Line – Stephen Neal, Logan Mankins, Matt Light, and Dan Koppen all had subpar seasons. Now, Mankins is holding out for more money and has said some pretty bad things about the Pats front office. This means Nick Kazur is sliding over and Sebastion Vollmer (who was a beast last year) is playing RT. Everyone else is one year older and the Pats are thin with any OL reserves. On the plus side, Stephen Neal has the distinction of beating Brick Lesnar in wrestling.
Obviously, there are many other areas that may need improvement. But these three address the areas that the Pats success has thrived on for years. Score points, rush the quarterback and, most importantly, keep Brady of his back.