Skip to content

Five questions: New England Patriots

Bill Belichick, Tom Brady AP

The Patriots winning the AFC East has almost reached the death and taxes level of certainty, which means the big question for them is always about something bigger.

Can they win the Super Bowl?

They’ve certainly got a chance to get there in a conference that many believe is set up for another title game clash between Bill Belichick and Peyton Manning. Winning that game for the first time since 2011 and challenging whoever survives in the NFC will take the right answers to the five questions we’re posing about the Patriots.

1. Can Gronk stay healthy?

If you can answer an unimpeachable yes to this question, you should probably do whatever you can to get in touch with the Patriots because they’d likely pay good money for help keeping tight end Rob Gronkowski on the field for an entire season.

The last time he did that was during the 2011 season, when he caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. Gronkowski played in seven games last year and the Patriots had 25 touchdown passes for the entire season.

During that brief period when Gronkowski was healthy last season, the Patriots were a buzzsaw on offense. They found the slogging much harder when he was out of the lineup recovering from back surgery or after he tore his ACL, though. The latter injury will him from cutting loose in a preseason game and Week One isn’t guaranteed, so there will be at least a few more weeks of wondering about when he’ll get the full green light.

And then it will be many more weeks for Patriots fans to worry about losing him every time he takes a hit.

2. How good can Darrelle Revis make this defense?

One need only look at the revolving door of cornerbacks that the Patriots have employed recently to know how much Revis changes things for New England. We’re not sure yet if he’ll be playing one side of the field or following a particular receiver each week, but it’s a good bet that Belichick will be doing things differently now that he has one of the league’s best corners to use on every snap of the ball.

It helps that he has so many other pieces to put in play around Revis. Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins and Donta’ Hightower have gained experience, Devin McCourty has transitioned well to safety, Jerod Mayo is back from last year’s pectoral injury and they’ll have Brandon Browner after he serves his four-game suspension. It adds up to the best defensive group on paper for New England in some time and Revis is the piece that could make it special.

3. Will time catch up to Tom Brady?

Brady turned 37 this year and he’s coming off a season that saw him take 40 sacks while posing his lowest completion percentage in a decade, all of which can be seen as reasons to argue that a quarterback could be starting the decline phase of his career.

Others would point to Gronkowski’s absence and a shortage of reliable wide receivers as reasons why Brady was less successful than in past seasons. The receiver question hasn’t been settled as the team is still hoping for Aaron Dobson and/or Brandon LaFell to provide a steady threat next to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, who Brady jokingly called pygmies this summer.

The gut feeling here is that a better cast of characters would lead to better things from Brady, but age catches up with all of us sooner or later.

4. Can their defensive tackles hold up?

If Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Dominique Easley are all healthy, they should make for an imposing trio in the center of the defensive line. It’s a big if, though.

Wilfork tore his Achilles last year and turns 33 in November while Kelly is coming back from a torn ACL and nearing his 34th birthday. Easley is a first-round pick and much younger, but he suffered the second torn ACL of his playing career last season. When Wilfork and Kelly went down last year, the Patriots defense took a serious hit and a similar turn of events this year would mitigate the good things discussed above.

5. How many fumbles is too many for Stevan Ridley?

Ridley lost a fumble in the team’s preseason game against the Eagles, an unhappy reminder of the four fumbles he lost last season. Those fumbles landed him in Belichick’s doghouse for a time and kept Ridley from building on a strong 2012 season.

LeGarrette Blount left as a free agent, but Shane Vereen and fourth-round pick James White are on hand as options should Ridley’s fumbles become a problem again this season. With free agency looming for the 2011 third-round pick, that would probably work out worse for him than it would for the Patriots.

Permalink 50 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Home, New England Patriots, Rumor Mill
50 Responses to “Five questions: New England Patriots”
  1. jjb0811 says: Aug 21, 2014 1:57 PM

    When you get 6 games against the Jets, ‘fins & Bills, its like legalized cheating. Is their another division where 75% of the teams are incompetent?

  2. bonniebengal says: Aug 21, 2014 1:57 PM

    Gronkowski is made of glass. Imagine if he played in the AFC North. He’d probably be retired by now.

  3. kamthechancellor says: Aug 21, 2014 1:58 PM

    Can we just skip the “can they stay healthy?” question in these breakdowns? Every team wants to stay healthy and the injury bug hits different teams in different seasons.

  4. slugbaitspace says: Aug 21, 2014 2:06 PM

    Personally, I’d really like to see the Patriots in the Super Bowl this season.

  5. rav3nbav3n says: Aug 21, 2014 2:09 PM

    #1-5: Can they even win a single game without spying on the other team?

  6. dalcow4 says: Aug 21, 2014 2:17 PM

    6- Is this the thinnest roster in the league?
    7- Does anyone outside of New England believe Belicheat is a genius?
    8- Could this team win more than four games without Brady?
    9- How many will jump off the bandwagon when Brady retires?
    10- Except for Brady and Gronk, could any of their players start for any other team in the league?

  7. thestrategyexpert says: Aug 21, 2014 2:21 PM

    Just because death and taxes are inescapable today, doesn’t mean that will always be the case. That’s one of the worst famous sayings I’ve ever heard.

  8. hooterdawg says: Aug 21, 2014 2:27 PM

    The real question is whether Revis is still the ‘ Revis Island’ player he was prior to his injury. If he is not, how will Belichick handle a sub-standard but megalomaniac Revis – who in the past has been a locker room cancer when he is not happy.

  9. bostonian13 says: Aug 21, 2014 2:27 PM

    6- Is this the thinnest roster in the league?
    7- Does anyone outside of New England believe Belicheat is a genius?
    8- Could this team win more than four games without Brady?
    9- How many will jump off the bandwagon when Brady retires?
    10- Except for Brady and Gronk, could any of their players start for any other team in the league?

    6. No
    7. Many
    8. Check 2008-09
    9. Zero
    10. Every one of them.

    Stop the hating. Pats articles usually have the most trolls, constant winning must be the reason.

  10. greenlantern75 says: Aug 21, 2014 2:28 PM

    My goodness…I didn’t realize that the entire D-Line has had surgery to fix ACL tears…Area on the field where things like cut blocks come into play…You have to think teams are thinking about playing on edge of the cut block rules when they play the Pats here…

  11. weepingjebus says: Aug 21, 2014 2:30 PM

    Oh my god you guys, the season starts in a couple of weeks!

    #PatsNation
    #TeamsKnowTheyllLoseButPlayUsAnywayToAdmireBrady
    #BelichickCanReheatSoupJustByGlaringAtIt

  12. greenlantern75 says: Aug 21, 2014 2:31 PM

    ….and…if that D-line goes and can’t get pressure…I don’t care what that secondary looks like with Revis…When you don’t pressure the QB in this league, they tend to find the seams…

  13. Bill Belitext says: Aug 21, 2014 2:33 PM

    rav3nbav3n says:
    Aug 21, 2014 2:09 PM
    #1-5: Can they even win a single game without spying on the other team?
    ===================

    This is a brilliant question considering they havent won a single game since 2007… Wait, what? They have the best record in football since then? Oh, never mind…

  14. patsbrat says: Aug 21, 2014 2:41 PM

    Love the bit about “Winning that game (AFC Championship) for the first time since 2011…”

    It’s not like 2011 is ancient history. Pats have contended every year for the last decade plus, missing the playoffs for just 1 of those seasons on a tie-breaker. I fully expect they will contend this year too.

  15. pftwstbshmc says: Aug 21, 2014 2:42 PM

    jjb0811 says:
    Aug 21, 2014 1:57 PM
    When you get 6 games against the Jets, ‘fins & Bills, its like legalized cheating. Is their another division where 75% of the teams are incompetent?

    I find it comical when somone writes stuff like this.

    How many times did these teams test and even beat “better” teams out of the division last year? More often than not. These three teams know they need to beat the Patriots to win the division for a chance at the playoffs, ergo they have to be a good team to do so.

    Stop hating, or are you just that ignorant about football?

  16. jetsmmt says: Aug 21, 2014 2:47 PM

    @jjbo811

    Yea, the AFC South.

  17. southpaw2k says: Aug 21, 2014 2:48 PM

    “6- Is this the thinnest roster in the league?
    7- Does anyone outside of New England believe Belicheat is a genius?
    8- Could this team win more than four games without Brady?
    9- How many will jump off the bandwagon when Brady retires?
    10- Except for Brady and Gronk, could any of their players start for any other team in the league?”

    6. Maybe.
    7. I do, and I live in Baltimore (and I hate the Patriots). He’s kept the Patriots competitive for nearly 15 years now.
    8. They already have in 2008. If you’re asking whether they’ll be competitive after Brady retires, that’s another question worth asking in a few years when he finally does retire.
    9. Depends on how relevant the team is at that time. My guess is, not many will.
    10. Danny Amendola, Vince Wilfork, Patrick Chung, Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo, Nate Solder, and Darrelle Revis. And that’s just after taking a brief look at their current roster.

  18. revren10 says: Aug 21, 2014 2:52 PM

    Those who hate the patriots are just mad there women have a crush on the pats

  19. irishlad19 says: Aug 21, 2014 3:05 PM

    Always enjoy seeing the pure envy that emerges on these Boards when the Pats and Belichick are mentioned favorably.
    Lots of whining, silly comments, pure spite.
    Love it!

  20. harrisonhits2 says: Aug 21, 2014 3:08 PM

    I look forwards to the sweet taste of the Pats haters tears all season long and the lovely sound of their crying, whining and excuse making when the Pats beat their given team.

  21. dalcow4 says: Aug 21, 2014 3:10 PM

    7. I do, and I live in Baltimore (and I hate the Patriots). He’s kept the Patriots competitive for nearly 15 years now.
    –Completely coincidentally, Tom Brady has been playing for nearly 15 years now.

    8. They already have in 2008. If you’re asking whether they’ll be competitive after Brady retires, that’s another question worth asking in a few years when he finally does retire.
    –Even Doug Flutie was effective in that cheating system. What has Cassell done since?

    10. Danny Amendola,
    - if healthy.
    Vince Wilfork
    –on maybe four teams
    Patrick Chung,
    –no
    Julian Edelman,
    –no
    Dont’a Hightower
    –no,
    Chandler Jones,
    –on most teams he is a situational player
    -Jerod Mayo
    –no
    Nate Solder
    –yes,
    Darrelle Revis
    -yes.

  22. dlk47823 says: Aug 21, 2014 3:18 PM

    Last time I checked, The Jets and Dolphins both beat NE last year. That will happen again this year.

  23. atthemurph says: Aug 21, 2014 3:21 PM

    1. Can Gronk stay healthy? – This has already been answered. NO.

    2. How good can Darrelle Revis make this defense? – Not very since DBs cannot touch WRs.

    3. Will time catch up to Tom Brady? – Yes. It catches up with every player especially one who is going t0 be sacked 45+ times.

    4. Can their defensive tackles hold up? – No. Wilfork and Kelly have used up their allotted games as a 300+ lb bangers. Easley is a rookie 288lb. How’s he going to hold up in a 3-4?

    5. How many fumbles is too many for Stevan Ridley? All of them. ridley is th eonly guy who knows the O and if he can’t hang onto the ball he won’t play then see question 3 above. Having a rookie RB pas block for a 37 yr old immobile QB is a bad idea.

  24. southpaw2k says: Aug 21, 2014 3:30 PM

    7. I do, and I live in Baltimore (and I hate the Patriots). He’s kept the Patriots competitive for nearly 15 years now.
    –Completely coincidentally, Tom Brady has been playing for nearly 15 years now.

    —-

    What exactly is your point? Your original question was whether anyone outside New England thought Belicheck was an excellent football coach. Are you insinuating that Brady’s been more important to the franchise than Belicheck has? In my opinion, it’s a “chicken and the egg” argument. Had Drew Bledsoe never gotten his concussion, we might have a different answer.

    8. They already have in 2008. If you’re asking whether they’ll be competitive after Brady retires, that’s another question worth asking in a few years when he finally does retire.
    –Even Doug Flutie was effective in that cheating system. What has Cassell done since?

    —-

    Again, not what your original question was. You had asked if the team could win four games without Brady as QB, not whether a former Patriots QB could play well outside their system. Those are two entirely separate questions.

    Say what you mean and mean what you say.

  25. letsgobuffalo4 says: Aug 21, 2014 3:35 PM

    Bostanian13 , #9- there are ZERO patriots bandwagon fans? your a moron, and #10- every single player is a starter? Then how come 0 superbowl wins since your cheating days? You are a good team, but your “great” days are well behind you….and yes, when brady leaves, you will lose a lot of fans.

  26. 6ball says: Aug 21, 2014 3:37 PM

    .
    Another question mark is at the WR position. Will Dobson, Amendola Lafell and Boyce produce? If so, it reduces the reliance on Gronkowski and Edelman.
    .

  27. letsgobuffalo4 says: Aug 21, 2014 3:37 PM

    harrisonhits2, i dont mind losing to patriots, but you’ll be balling your eyes out YET AGAIN when you lose to the broncos. Your days are over, stop gloating because your a good team who cant win the super bowl anymore.

  28. p8riotdynastylives says: Aug 21, 2014 3:39 PM

    The Patriots are hated for nothing other then the fact that they are consistently very good team…….jealousy is a perfect reason to hate….the lines to the left ……….I will be in section 212 watching it all !!!!!!!!

  29. tedmurph says: Aug 21, 2014 3:43 PM

    6- Is this the thinnest roster in the league?
    7- Does anyone outside of New England believe Belicheat is a genius?
    8- Could this team win more than four games without Brady?
    9- How many will jump off the bandwagon when Brady retires?
    10- Except for Brady and Gronk, could any of their players start for any other team in the league?

    6. There are 12 Pro Bowlers/All Pros on thier roster. This doesn’t include: Amendola, Edelman, Solder, CJones,Vereen, Ninkovich, etc.
    7. Belichick has won coach of the yr 3 times in the last 10 yrs. Has 5 rings and 8 SBowl appearances, 3 without Brady.
    8. That’s been covered. 11 wins.
    9. Pats have had 50,000 people on the season ticked waiting list since 1994, 7 yrs before Brady was drafted.
    10. Depending on the team, anywhere from 60-85%, including 9 of the Pro Bowlers.

    Otherwise, congrats. Great post.

  30. jjb0811 says: Aug 21, 2014 3:44 PM

    Hey pftwstbshmc: Gotta love when people shout out misinformation, like yourself.

    going back 5 years here’s the break down:
    Fins: 35-45
    Bills: 24-52
    Jets: 42-38

    Pats: 61-19
    That’s called domination.

  31. tedmurph says: Aug 21, 2014 3:47 PM

    By the way, Cassell went to the Pro Bown in 2010. His 2nd yr in KC. DFlutie went to the Pro Bowl with Buffalo

  32. letsgobuffalo4 says: Aug 21, 2014 3:49 PM

    p8riotdynastylives : lol its hilarious how you cheaters always say ppl hate you b/c you win. You havent won the super bowl since u cheated, so we cant hate you for being great. Giants won it 2 of 3 yrs, 49ers are great, bronco’s are great, saints are great, seahaws are great- dont hate any of them. Thats like saying i hate vick b/c he’s fast, no i hate him b/c he killlls dogs! I dont hate ray lewis b/c he is dominant, i hate him b/c he killled someone and got off scott free haha. Your in prob. the weakest division- i should hope u can be #1 in it.

  33. thevikingsarewherecareersend says: Aug 21, 2014 3:49 PM

    You are a complete moron if you do not think mayo can start on another team he’s always in the top 5 in the league in tackling and is a smart player rarely makes mistakes.

  34. gayforbrady says: Aug 21, 2014 4:26 PM

    The Patriots were so bad last year. Banged up with great players on offense and defense gone. And we still won 12 games.

    With the new editions and regained health does anyone really think we are going to not improve on the number of wins?

    I see pats going 14-2 or 16-0.

  35. fritz96 says: Aug 21, 2014 4:42 PM

    Remember the Patriots won 6 games last year by 3 or less points, often with last minute comebacks. Brady can do it again, but there’s no guarantee.

  36. tedmurph says: Aug 21, 2014 4:46 PM

    You havent won the super bowl since u cheated, so we cant hate you for being great.

    49ers are great, bronco’s are great

    Broncos haven’t won a SB since 1999, 49ers since 1995.

    It’s called ‘hater logic’.

  37. whodeybacker says: Aug 21, 2014 6:11 PM

    I respect the Patriots. And believe they will win their division. But its premature to put them in the AFC championship with Denver. Both teams are getting old and older teams suffer injuries. I really expect Cincinnati to take the next step and replace one of those teams they “hope” get to the afc title game. They have the youth. The talent. And their young offense has 3 years of playoff experience. Outstanding defense. Top 10 special teams. And finally an OC that doesnt call plays like he is still in the Arena Football League.

  38. tedmurph says: Aug 21, 2014 6:37 PM

    It is premature to put the Pats/Denver back in the AFC Championship game. But, until the Bengals show that they can win a playoff game with Lewis @HC and Dalton @QB, I’m gonna wait and see. Pats aren’t old. Brady’s old but still a top4/5 QB, at least. They have almost the same ave age as the Bengals. Bengals have top 10 special teams, Pats have top 3. Cincy does have a talented roster, but I expect Pitts and Balti, 2 out standing franchises, to bounce back and the Browns to be better. Having 2 new coordinators is not easy either. Until I see different, Cincy, Indy, SDiego,KC. Pitts and Balti are all a signifigant notch below the Pats and Broncos

  39. brazzz01 says: Aug 22, 2014 6:35 AM

    6. How will the OL play without Scar coaching them? To me that is one of the biggest questions…

  40. grantepalmer says: Aug 22, 2014 11:10 AM

    Here’s a fact for those who worship Belichick’s “genius” – he wasn’t a successful head coach until Brady became his quarterback. So is Belichick a genius, or did he luck out in having a Hall of Fame quarterback in a weak division for 15 years? We won’t know if Belichick really is a genius until he wins a Super Bowl without Brady.

  41. tedmurph says: Aug 22, 2014 11:39 AM

    Here’s a fact for the uninformed. Belichick took an awful Browns team with no talent to 11-5 and a playoff win in 4yrs of rebuilding. They were considered SBowl contenders the next yr, before Modell decided to move the team and everything imploded.

    I guess 3 SBowl appearances and 2 wins as a coordinator count for nothing when discussing a coach’s ‘genius’ too.

    He’s considered a 1rst ballot HOFer and top10, if not top 5 coach, by the legion of informed. Period.

  42. grantepalmer says: Aug 22, 2014 12:53 PM

    Here’s another fact for you, tedmurph, if Bledsoe had not gotten injured Belichick would have likely got fired that year, because the Patriots record his first two years as head coach was really bad, and they started out poorly the year Brady took over. A 6-10 record with a healthy Bledsoe (a reasonable assumption) and Belichick would have likely been shown the door. Brady saved his ass then, and Belichick has been riding along with Brady ever since.

  43. tedmurph says: Aug 22, 2014 1:26 PM

    No it’s not a fact, it’s your guess. The Pats never would have fired BB after 2 yrs. They gave up a 1rst rnd pk for him. Coaches rarely get fired after 2 yrs. It happens, but it’s rare. Bledsoe got hurt in the 2nd gm of Belichick’s 2nd yr. They were 0-1. He had only coached the Pats 1 yr before that. You don’t know what would have happened. Brady went 11-5, but Bledsoe only would have gone 6-10. That’s not a reasonable assumtion. Brady wasn’t that great the 1rst yr he played, he just fit Weiss’ offence better then Bledsoe, they got on a roll and they stuck with Brady. It was a big controversy around here at the time about who should be playing. They didn’t win that SBowl because they were an offensive juggernaut. That was one of the best coaching jobs of all time. BB took a waiver wire team with a 1rst yr QB and won the SBowl against an outstanding team, after beating a good Steeler team on the rd in the AFCC game.

    Also, BB’s def game plan for the SBowl victory over the Bills is at the HOF in Canton, if you want to take a look.

  44. brazzz01 says: Aug 22, 2014 2:23 PM

    Belichick designed the game plan to stop the K-Gun offense in the Super Bowl. He also designed the blueprint to end the Greatest Show on Turf – and they were never the same after their SB loss. As said above he took a sorry Browns team and made them a championship contender until Modell pulled the plug. He also took a broken down and decrepit Patriots team in cap hell and made them a dynasty. He also guided a Patriots team to an 11-5 record led by a QB who hadn’t started a game since high school. He also created the blueprint that ended Tim Tebow’s career in the NFL. Now that’s a track record very few coaches can boast about.

    Anyone who doesn’t give BB the credit that he deserves is either a hater who just can’t be objective or someone woefully uninformed about the sport.

  45. politicallyincorrect says: Aug 23, 2014 11:05 PM

    Pats are, and have never been more than, a nice little AFC team!

  46. politicallyincorrect says: Aug 23, 2014 11:08 PM

    BB is not a great coach.. he is a career losing coach that was saved by Brady… and “cheating”; he has been very lucky to have been in the AFC East and AFC, which pretty much guarantees success (at least with Brady)

  47. rebosprj says: Aug 24, 2014 5:50 PM

    Winning percentage per division since 2002:

    AFC East: .525
    NFC East: .518
    NFC South: .515
    AFC South: .512
    AFC North: .509
    AFC West: .488
    NFC North: .480
    NFC West: .453

  48. rebosprj says: Aug 24, 2014 5:54 PM

    Thanks for playing haters, ps, they won the SB before the rule came out in 06. They haven’t won anything since they got caught is another stupid response, check there record since then. Most teams would be thrilled to have there team with a record 1/2 as good. And the dynasty continues, deal with it

  49. rebosprj says: Aug 24, 2014 5:57 PM

    Not to mention they became the only team in NFL history to go undefeated in the 16 game regular season, and oops, that was after spygate too. If y’all knew anything about football, you would know that spygate was only the preseason, and 1 regular season game. Before then placement of cameras for ALL TEAMS did not matter.

  50. politicallyincorrect says: Aug 26, 2014 4:11 PM

    Pats are a nice little AFC team…. at least while Brady is there.. but they are nothing more..

    it is almost unfair to play in Pats division and conf…. almost lets them coast/rest for playoffs, and in their conf they win one real game they can go to SB….. and I guess they could get lucky…. but this team has not won a thing since being caught cheating so I don’t really see the need to take them too seriously

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!