In 2006, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts stormed back against the the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, after being down 21-6 at half time. The Colts would go on to beat the Rex Grossman-led Chicago Bears, and Manning finally got his first ring.
Before the start of the next season, the Patriots went out and signed RB Sammy Morris and WR Donté Stallworth and traded for WRs Wes Welker and Randy Moss. That season Brady and the Patriots’ offense had one of the most efficient and explosive offenses in NFL history.
In 2013, the Patriots traveled to Mile High Stadium to face the highest scoring offense in NFL history (606 points) led by Peyton Manning. Following an Aqib Talib injury, Manning had a field day throwing for 400 yards and toying with the Patriots’ defense. With Gronkowski injured, it wasn’t pretty for Tom Brady as he was stuck throwing to the likes of WR Austin Collie (currently playing in the CFL for the BC Lions), TEs Michael Hoomanawanui, and Matthew Mulligan (2 receptions for the entire season).
Again, the following season the Patriots made key moves during the offseason acquiring press-man corners Brandon Browner, and long time division foe Darrelle Revis, an outside presence in WR Brandon LaFell, and allowing safety Patrick Chung to make his return to New England. That season the Patriots won the Super Bowl for the first time in 10 years.
Well, here they are again.
Following a loss to the Broncos again thanks to a suspect offensive line, no run game, and injuries, the Patriots entered the offseason with few questions such as “What will the Patriots do about their offensive line?” or “How will the Patriots improve their running back situation?”
Following the releases of LaFell and TE Scott Chandler, its clear what one the major overall question is – How will the Patriots fix their entire offense?
It’s blatantly obvious that WR and TE are clear needs now just days ahead of free agency. Wide receiver looks more likely to be addressed in the coming days as an immediate impact and filling the void that was left behind by LaFell is evidently important, while the Patriots could look for someone to compliment Gronkowski through the draft.
Although there are rumours and speculation of who the Patriots may seek and ignoring the fact that this free agency group of skill positions may not be that impressive on paper, the Patriots could find hidden gems that could have career seasons and could be a great addition to the offense.
Of course, there are times where free agents have had successful years in the past (Brandon Lloyd, LaFell), but there were also times where it failed (Chad Johnson, Austin Collie). But there are players who likely would excel in New England due to familiarity with the system or coaching personnel.
The running back position is challenging to predict because there has been interest from both the Patriots and LeGarrette Blount to get a new deal done, but with players such as Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, and Lamar Miller entering free agency, its hard to think the Patriots don’t make an attempt at one of them. But also, there is the draft, where they could find plenty of fits such as Alex Collins or Kenneth Dixon.
With the much needed return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, perhaps the Patriots pursue an under the radar offensive lineman, and then continue to address the OL through the draft. But not only is depth at the Tackle and Guard needed, talent is as well.
With this organization, everything is speculation. Out of every ten attempts, analysts and journalists are probably correct three times.
But one thing is for certain – if the Patriots want to contend for at least the next two to three seasons, they need to help this fellow.
Tom Brady, turning 39 before this upcoming season, is continuously defying father time. But it’s likely there will come a time when Brady will not be able to perform at the level we are so accustomed to.
After the Denver Broncos went out and made noise in free agency in 2014, the Patriots had a quiet offseason and many questioned why Bill Belichick had not helped Tom Brady the way John Elway was helped Peyton Manning.
This may be it.
This may be the season the Patriots make a splash a big as 2007 or it could turn out to be another quiet offseason. But with an abrupt ending to the Patriots season against the Broncos in the AFC Championship game, it could have and should have come as an eye opener to the organization to help their star quarterback.