New England Patriots Midseason Report: Tom Brady Takes The MVP


We are just over halfway through the 2014 regular season, and despite a few bumps early, the New England Patriots are pretty much exactly where we expected them to be.

Seven wins, and two losses. Not bad for a schedule that included the Bengals, Broncos, Bears, a tough road game up in Buffalo. Tom Brady is playing at an MVP-level once again, Rob Gronkowski is back to full health, and the Patriots have the best secondary in the league in my eyes. All of that adds up to a number one seed in the AFC, and that puts New England right on track for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

With the Pats on a bye this week, I though this would be a perfect opportunity to take a step back and analyze the first half of the Pats’ season.

MVP: Tom Brady

Rob Gronkowski is certainly an intriguing option for the MVP, but I have to give it to Brady. After that debacle in Kansas City Brady has completely turned it around, going on a tear that is up there with his 2007 season in terms of efficiency. He is zipping passes all over the place, slicing up defenses like he going for a walk in the park, as he has the Patriots’ offense second in the league in terms of points scored. If it weren’t for Brady, the Pats’ offense would be in the dumps, so major props to him for resurrecting a unit that looked dead in the water, bringing them back up to the elite ranks in the NFL.

LVP: Aaron Dobson

You have to actually do something negative to be the least valuable player, right? Well, everybody that I can think of that has contributed to this team has made a positive impact (well, except for Jordan Devey), so I had to go with Dobson for this not-so-prestigious award. Coming into the season, Dobson was supposed to emerge as a top outside threat for this offense, giving it a dimension that it hasn’t had since the Randy Moss era. He has the talent, but for some reason, he just hasn’t clicked with Tom Brady and company. I am honestly hoping it is still a health thing, because that would mean he still has a chance at getting healthy, and contributing to this team.

Offensive Key To Sustained Success: Offense Line Play/Gronk

This offense is clicking on all cylinders right now, and if Rob Gronkowski stays healthy, and this offensive line continues their stellar play, I envision Brady’s group obliterating every defense they face from here on out. If Brady has time to throw, he has plenty of mismatches to attack with all of his weapons, specifically Gronkowski, who must stay healthy if the Pats want to get back to the Super Bowl. There is nobody in the NFL that can cover Gronk, so if he is out there playing 100%, Brady will always have a mismatch to attack. It seems like Bill Belichick has found an offensive line combination that is working well, so hopefully they only improve going forward.

Defensive Key To Sustained Success: Pass Rush

New England has the best secondary in the league. That is not debatable. But their pass rush is far from elite, which could give them problems come January. Akeem Ayers has provided a much needed lift on the edge, and Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins have done a very nice job in bringing pressure up the middle. Once Chandler Jones returns from his hip injury, I think the Patriots will be fine in this department, but it will still be an area we must keep an eye on. Assuming Jones is healthy, he will bring consistent pressure off of the edge, and they now have the option of using Ayers in a rotation on the edge to maximize pressure schemes.

Whether it is bringing the inside linebackers up the gut and dropping the defensive ends in coverage, or running twists and games with the defensive tackles and defensive ends, this defense can get to the quarterback. Once Jones returns, they will only have more talent to send after the opposing signal caller. They just need to stay consistent.

Prediction: 13-3 (1 seed)

The Pats have a tough closing schedule, but they can finish a strong 6-1. Going through the Colts, Lions, Packers, Chargers gauntlet will be daunting, but I believe they can emerge with just one loss. That means Denver needs to fall once, and while their schedule is much easier, they will slip up one more time before the postseason begins.