New England Patriots: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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Drew Bledsoe, New England Patriots
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player. 47. . QB. (1993-01). Drew Bledsoe. 27

  • Super Bowl Champion (XXXVI)
  • 3x Pro Bowl w/Patriots (1994, 1996-97)
  • NFL passing yards leader (1994)
  • New England Patriots Hall of Fame

While Babe Parilli and Steve Grogan were good quarterbacks before him, Drew Bledsoe was instrumental in the Patriots’ turnaround in the early part of Robert Kraft’s ownership. Do remember that the Patriots were almost relocated to St. Louis to become the St. Louis Stallions before Kraft brought an end to that nonsense.

Let’s briefly go back to 1992 for a minute, shall we? The Patriots were horrendous, as they went 2-14. Former head coach Dick MacPherson was fired and former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells was brought in to reclaim this sunken AFC East ship. His first order of business was to get a franchise quarterback. He certainly did that in taking Bledsoe No. 1 overall out of Washington State in the 1993 NFL Draft.

Bledsoe was asked to start right away as a rookie for the 1993 Patriots. At the time, throwing a rookie into the fire under center was largely unheard of. While he only completed 49.5 percent of his passes for 2,494 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions that fall, New England improved to 5-11. Progress is progress.

Bledsoe had his breakout year with the Patriots in 1994, when he completed 57.9 percent of his passes for a league-high 4,555 yards, 25 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. He would make his first of four career trips to the Pro Bowl that season. New England went 10-6 that season, made the AFC playoffs for the first time since 1986. The Patriots fell to Bill Belichick’s Cleveland Browns in the wild card round.

Bledsoe quickly established himself as one of the best young franchise quarterbacks in football in the late 1990s. He made three of his four career trips to the Pro Bowl under Parcells in New England. While Bledsoe threw for more yards than anyone in 1994, his best season as a professional came in 1996 when he led New England to its second-ever trip to the Super Bowl.

He went 11-5 as a starter that year, completing 59.9 percent of his passes for 4,086 yards, 27 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Bledsoe made his second Pro Bowl that year. While New England handled the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1996 AFC Championship Game, they were no match for Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. That would prove to be Parcells’ last game leading the Patriots, as he would leave for the division rival New York Jets.

Bledsoe continued to quarterback the Patriots through the entire Pete Carroll era, throwing for a career-high 28 touchdowns in his third Pro Bowl season in 1997. However, the Patriots would quickly sink to an at-best .500 team to close out the 1990s.

Bledsoe remained the Patriots’ starting quarterback in 2001, but a life-threatening hit by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis pretty much knocked him out of the season. Brady took over the helm for New England for Bledsoe, and the rest is history.

While Bledsoe filled in for an injured Brady in the 2001 AFC Championship Game, ultimately leading the Patriots to the Super Bowl, he is best known for being the guy that Brady replaced under center in Foxborough. It’s a shame, as Bledsoe was such a pure talent at the quarterback position. He would rebound with his fourth and final Pro Bowl nod leading the 2002 Buffalo Bills the following season.

After three years in Orchard Park with the Bills, Bledsoe would be reunited with Parcells on the Dallas Cowboys in 2005. Two years later, that was all she wrote for Bledsoe’s NFL career. Though not a Pro Football Hall of Famer by any stretch of the imagination, Bledsoe is a Super Bowl champion, a four-time Pro Bowler and a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. Not too bad of an NFL career if you ask me.