New England Patriots “What If’s” for the 2013 Season
By Tim Dillon
Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios that could play out this season, and what could happen as a result!
What If: Tom Brady gets hurt?
Every Patriots’ fan’s worst nightmare. The image of Tom Brady in pain on the ground back in 2008 is burned into our minds as badly as both Super Bowl losses. We got lucky when Matt Cassel suddenly erupted into a quality quarterback, but that luck ran out at the end of the season when we missed the playoffs at 11-5. What would happen this year? Well, Brian Hoyer would get the starting job over Ryan Mallett for sure. He has the offensive weapons to back him up and I could see him progressing in a similar way as Cassel. Could we win the Super Bowl with him? Not likely. Brady going down wouldn’t necessarily kill our season but, my god, it would be awful!
What If: Rob Gronkowski‘s production decreases from last year?
The Patriots learned a hard lesson from the Super Bowl when Gronk was injured: they depended on him too much. Sure, Aaron Hernandez is great and stepped up, but no one can replace Gronk. They have worked hard this off-season bringing in offensive talent Brady can lean on in case Gronk goes down with injury again. Because of this newly stacked offense, expect Gronk’s production to take a hit regardless of his healthy. Brady simply has too many weapons on the field to stare down Gronk all the time. I don’t see a significant drop in production, however, as he is Brady’s favorite end-zone target.
What If: Wes Welker gets traded mid-season?
I predicted this months ago and still believe it. Wes Welker will not finish out the season on this team. Why risk losing him to free agency at the end of this season, when we could trade him for another receiver(s) of equal caliber? Sure, it will hurt the Patriots initially if Welker departs; Brady is very comfortable throwing to Welker. That kind of chemistry takes a lot of time to develop and not all can do it *cough* Ochocinco *cough*. However, if (when) Welker is traded, the Patriots will surely get another high caliber player in return. If it is a WR, such as Percy Harvin (my prediction), our offense won’t skip much of a beat. He is an extremely talented receiver and should develop chemistry with Brady quickly. If the Patriots were to acquire a player of another position, perhaps RB if Stevan Ridley doesn’t perform as expected, the offense might take a hit initially. The loss of Welker would be significant, but the secondary players like Jabar Gaffney, Dont’e Stallworth, and Julian Edelman, would step into his place to maintain the offense.
What If: the Patriots go 16-0 again?
Many fans have predicted, myself included, that the Patriots have an easy enough schedule to go undefeated in the regular season for the second time. While this is a real possibility as they really only have two or three games this year they could potentially lose, is it ideal? Think back to the 2007 season. The Patriots steamrolled through opponents scoring 40+ points at ease. Towards the end of the season, though, you could tell the pressure was getting to them. Plays were getting less mechanical and started getting sloppy. They were close to losing a few games, and in fact probably should have lost that game to Baltimore. That pressure carried with them throughout the playoffs and ultimately could be part of the reason they lost the Super Bowl. If the Patriots do have another undefeated season, I see them losing again in the Super Bowl. A third Super Bowl loss would put any Patriots fan in pure agony but look at the NFC. The teams that have Super Bowl potential are simply too good to allow the Patriots to play at any level but their best. They don’t need the added pressure of trying to go 19-0, let’s just focus on getting another ring.
What If: Brady and Co. remain healthy and the Pats don’t go 16-0?
I’ll be attending the Super Bowl victory parade in Boston. Look for me there.
Think you can outsmart me?? Join our Pick’Em league!