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New England Patriots

Patriots Dynasty Not Dying Out

by Matt Wells

They defeated the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl two years later, and they followed that with another win over the Philadelphia Eagles the following year.  Four years.  Three championships.  One coach.  One quarterback.  Oh, and a kicker that was really good in the clutch.

They almost did it again last season.  They were four points away from beating the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game, a game which almost all of America figured would be won by the Patriots because Tom Brady never, ever screws up with the game on the line.  Well, we all make mistakes.

The Patriots dynasty has lost a little of its luster, since the Pats haven’t won the Super Bowl (let alone made it there) in the past two seasons.  However, if you’re waiting for the New England Patriots dynasty to fizzle out, you may be waiting for a few years.New England has been a team that has exemplified excellence.  They have been able to control off-the-field problems (unlike a certain team in Cincinnati) and they have adapted to the new salary cap of the NFL.  They aren’t paying players $100 million to play in New England, but rather players are willing to take pay cuts just to don a Patriots uniform.  Players want to play for Bill Belichick; the offseason has certainly indicated that.

Let’s first start with how they have done in free agency.  The signing of free agent Adalius Thomas, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, is easily the best free agent pickup of the offseason for this team.  Last season, Thomas had 83 tackles and 11 sacks for the highly touted Ravens defense.  The year before that, his numbers were similar: 84 tackles and 9 sacks.

The Patriots defense was ranked 6th last season, allowing a little more than 294 yards per game.  Expect that ranking to become even better, as opposing teams will now find it a little more difficult to run and pass against the Patriots.  Thomas was certainly one of the reasons why the Ravens defense was ranked #1 overall last season.  Think about this: the Patriots believe Thomas can do for the Patriots what Willie McGinest did a few years back…we all know how good the Patriots were with him on the team.

Tom Brady had essentially no top wide receivers to throw to last season.  Reche Caldwell led the team in receiving yards with only 760 (an average of only 47.5 yards per game).  The number two receiver on the team was actually tight end Ben Watson.  Brady had no real play-making wide receivers to throw to, and yet he still helped guide the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game.

Well, now Brady can thank Patriots management; he finally has some big names to throw to.  There is that guy that used to play for the Vikings and Raiders, but I’ll go more in depth on him later.  Outside of “you know who,” the Patriots added Donte Stallworth, who spent last year in Philadelphia.  As an Eagle last year, Stallworth had 725 receiving yards in 12 games.  He also had 5 touchdown receptions…one more than Caldwell had the entire season.  One more comparison stat: Stallworth averaged about 7 yards more per catch than Caldwell did last season.  There’s your wide receiver threat.  However, that’s just one threat.

Of less significance was the acquisition of former Miami Dolphin wide receiver/kick returner Wes Welker.  Welker finished first on the Dolphins last year in receptions and second in receiving yards…and that was with Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, and every other citizen of Florida as the team’s quarterback.  Sure, Welker will be further down on New England’s depth chart since the Pats have a much deeper roster, but it’s nice to know that he’s there if you need him.

Corey Dillon has retired, but the Patriots signed Sammy Morris (also from the Dolphins) this offseason.  This is an off-the-radar signing, but Morris is an established runner who will give second-year back Lawrence Maroney much needed breathers.  To give Maroney and Morris more room to run, the Pats also signed blocking tight end Kyle Brady.  The Brady-to-Brady hookup won’t be that prolific, since Ben Watson is the starting tight end.  Again, though, it’s nice to know he’s there.

And then there’s that wide receiver who used to play with the Vikings and Raiders.  Um…let’s see…he mooned fans in Green Bay and walked off the field before the game was over in another game.  His attitude has often overshadowed his playmaking abilities.  Oh, what’s his name?  Of course…Randy Moss.

Some people may go against this deal, since Moss seems to be all about the me-first attitude – something the Patriots will not stand for at all.  But, Moss’s signing is a thing of brilliance for the Pats.

First off, all they traded to get Randy Moss was a fourth-round pick in the NFL draft.  Not a first-rounder or second-rounder…a fourth round pick.  That, my friends, is a steal; I don’t care how much attitude the guy has.  The fact is, he can play.  The attitude may be less noticeable in New England because he was willing to take a $6 million pay cut just to be a Patriot.  Moss is a five-time Pro Bowler that gives Tom Brady a big, big target to throw to.

Yet, some fans will question Moss’s off-the-field demeanor.  Why would the Patriots risk Moss ruining the team chemistry?  Three reasons: 1) he can play, 2) they only had to give up a fourth round draft pick, and 3) they changed Corey Dillon.  Remember Dillon’s troublesome days in Cincinnati?  Open complaints about playing time.  Not happy about being on a losing team.  He came to the Patriots and became a team player; he fit in nicely.  Indeed, his attitude had changed (that’s what happens when you’re on a winning team).

The Patriots have several luxuries here.  If Moss acts up, Belichick will rip into him; I guarantee you that.  Tom Brady, knowing the common sense he has, may go so far as to stop throwing the ball to Moss.  If the Patriots figure out that Moss won’t work in New England, they have the luxury of cutting him.  Remember…fourth round pick.  It’s not like they mortgaged the franchise for the guy.

Randy Moss was 6-26 in two seasons for the Oakland Raiders.  He wanted to get out of there.  He needed to get out of there.  Now that he is on a proven winning team in New England, look for the guy to turn it up a notch on and off the field.

There is also what other teams have done this offseason that have made the New England Patriots easy favorites to win the AFC.  The San Diego Chargers fired Marty Schottenheimer at the end of last season’s playoff run; in his place they have Norv Turner, who has a terrible track record when it comes to the postseason.

The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, have gone backwards this offseason.  Hold on to your hats for this one.  Colts losses in since they won the Super Bowl: corner Jason David (signed with Saints), safety Mike Doss (signed with Vikings), corner Nick Harper (signed with Titans), defensive tackle Monte Reagor (signed with Eagles), running back Dominic Rhodes (signed with Raiders), and wide receiver Brandon Stokley.  Throw in the fact that four of the first five games for the Colts are against the much improved Titans and Buccaneers, the Saints, and the Broncos, and you have a tough road for the defending champs.

The Chargers are weakened at head coach, the Colts are weakened almost everywhere defensively, and I really see no other team that can compete on the level the Patriots can.  All of this adds up to, at the very least, an AFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl.

If you’re waiting for that dynasty to end, you better find something to do to help pass the time.  It’s going to be a while.

By Matt Wells

27 years old. From New Jersey. I'm a fan of all four major sports, though I know most about football and baseball. Favorite teams: Sabres (NHL), Yankees (MLB). General fan of baseball and football, as well.

3 replies on “Patriots Dynasty Not Dying Out”

Good piece Matt

Good piece.  Are you an “objective observer” or are you a Patriots fan?

I am… An “objective observer”.  And thank you for the compliment.

Dying Out, Just Not That Fast Very interesting article, lot of evidence. However, what is there to be said of the offensive line of the patriots, how long is that going to hold up, certainly not as long as Laurence Maroney and Morris would need them. Not to mention that guy named Tom who holds the ball, the Patriots linebacking core is old, and all they do is pick up washing up wide receivers. If they don’t pick up some very talented youth, and fast, Belichick will be in for a rude awakening.

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