Let’s look at the new hope for Boston fans—this year’s New England Patriots. That’s one of the great things about NFL camp and preseason football. It’s a nice tease and distraction, especially when the hometown hardball team is underachieving.
Here are three questions that can shape this season. Who knows what the answers will be. Once we know them, we’ll have a good sense of where the Patriots will be in 2012.
How Healthy Will the Defense Be?
The New England defense needs to stay healthy and add to that the biggest concern here is the secondary. They are primary when it comes to needing a performance upgrade. Safety Patrick Chung has huge potential. We need him the entire season. The same is true of linebacker Brandon Spikes and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Health issues plagued all three last season. If the Patriots have these guys on the field for 16 games, that will be a big help.
Will These Guys Let Down?
Three concerns here—Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Brian Waters. Now all three are professionals but still all three are human. Welker, who has the franchise tag, basically does not have a new contract and probably won’t. Will that be distracting to him or will it make him play harder. I say it will be the latter. I see him making a lot of important receptions.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski was massive in every way last season. He broke records and become a media icon. The guys has been on TV a lot and having a lot of fun. Who can blame him? But how focused will he be? Might the bright lights of fame ruin Rob Gronkowski? Naw, he going to be even better this season!
Brian Waters was a great free agent signing last season and the veteran had a stellar season. So what’s the problem? Waters is the problem. He has not shown up for camp or any other mandatory meetings, etc. After last year’s Super Bowl loss he said he had to go home and think about if he needed a break. The Patriots need him at offensive guard. They may not have him. No one is saying why he’s a no-show but it’s hoped he will show soon.
Will Rookies Have an Impact on D?
Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower were first round picks—now what will they do if anything? Jones needs to get stronger. Hightower looks like he could have an impact, but he’s gained weight and needs to shape up. That’s not a good sign. D-end and third-rounder Jake Bequette may actually be ready to contribute. He has looked good in camp and Belichick seems to like what he sees.
Patriots Are Good
The Patriots have a solid team. I think they will have a great season. Will they go undefeated? No. They will lose about three games. Why will they lose three? What can I say, they just will. But I think they’re going back to the Super Bowl.