Pats best approach will be patience, practice

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With Aaron Hernandez gone, the Patriots currently don’t have four of their top five receivers from 2012.  The other one, Rob Gronkowski, is recovering from having his spine adjusted with a scalpel.

So what should the Patriots do?  We gave Shaun King the G.M. title in New England during Thursday’s PFT Live, and he suggested that the Pats just be patient.

It’s a great point.  Other guys can and will step up.

It happens all the time in football.  One guy gets hurt, another guy steps in.

Making it easier for the Patriots is the presence of a franchise quarterback who still remains at the top of the game, even if he isn’t quite as great as he used to be.  The perception of a receiver’s skill depends in large part on the quality of his quarterback, and Brady has helped make a lot of receivers look better than they would have been elsewhere.

The challenge for Brady will be to establish familiarity with the receivers.  How long it takes to get off the line, how they run their routes, placement of the ball, etc.

The best way to make that happen will be to get as many reps as possible.  In practice, after practice, on days when there is no practice.  King thinks we’ll see the first-team offense more extensively in the preseason to aid Brady and the receivers in the process of getting ready to work together when the games count.

This doesn’t mean the Pats won’t try to find more players.  Dallas Clark is still on the market.  Brandon Lloyd, who had 911 receiving yards last year in New England, is still available.  (And while some regard Lloyd as a guy who didn’t fit in with the Pats, quirks and other personality glitches don’t look quite as bad in light of the allegations made against Hernandez.)  Randy Moss could be intrigued by a reunion.  (Read the last parenthetical and replace “Lloyd” with “Moss.”)

Still, the cupboard isn’t completely bare.  Gronk, is healthy, remains a force.  King believes rookie Aaron Dobson could make an impact at receiver.  And the decision to pilfer Jake Ballard from the Giants last year as they tried to slip him through to injured reserve suddenly looks brilliant.

Throughout the Belichick-Brady era, it has been presumed that the Patriots will remain contenders as long as both are around.  They both are still there.  Thus, it’s safe to presume they will still be contenders.

34 responses to “Pats best approach will be patience, practice

  1. The Pat’s will pull together. They are a team and will step up to the challenge they are facing. I have a lot of confidence in Brady and Belichick. As for Hernandez being a distraction, he is history and no longer a part of that team. They will move on and rebuild.

  2. They probably won’t start the season with their 5 top receivers from last year, and will still win 10-12 games. If Brady can make a deep playoff run with Reche Caldwell and Jabaar Gafney as the 1-2 receivers, he can do it with the new crop of players.

  3. This is not much different than 2007 when Welker & Moss redid the Patriots receiving corp. When healthy Amendola is a very explosive player,Gronk will be back and Ballard is a great addition. I look at the Hernandez situation no different than if the player was put on IR. Every team loses key players during the season.

  4. Pats always play with fire and they got burned. Better smart’n up before they ruin there “Pats Way” Franchise. Picking up players like Aqib Talib.Donte Stallworth.Getting caught Cheating and getting a slap on the wrist.Maybe they will finally change there ways before another one of there “Playa’s” or coach’s puts a permanent stain on there franchise that they cant wipe away.

  5. I don’t care if you think he’s not as great a he used to be. But that seems to be at odds with the other comment that he’s at the top of his game.
    PM would pitch a fit if he had the usually solid but seldom spectacular crew TB has had most of his career at the receiver position. PM does less with more, TB does more with less, and Rodgers does more with more.

  6. As a NON NE fan (Fin fan here), it’s hard to say this, but really…the pasties will be fine as long as they have Brady playing like he has and BB…the other guys are inconsequential to their success. One day, the music will die (Brady will either retire or his abilities will give out on him) and they’ll have to get back to being just another team in the NFL…but that hasn’t happened yet and betting against them not been very fruitful, so as you said, Mike, they likely will find a way to keep things going for a while longer…despite the losses…

  7. And besides, not too many folks seem to be downplaying the ability of the Ravens to bounce back and they’ve arguably lost a LOT more than the pasties…

  8. I hope the running game picks it up a little better. It’s more exciting to watch than 10 yard passes.

  9. CKL, what a fuzzball…you dis PM because someone said something (probably not true) about TB?? So PM is more fiery than TB…big deal…could you really go wrong with either of those guys at the helm ?? And besides, TB isn’t what makes the pasties successful, BB is…end of story…

  10. Imagine this team now if something were to happen to Tom Brady. They would be even worse off than Denver will be when dime neck goes down. No playoffs and probably a losing record.
    I hope you chowderheads have enjoyed it because I’m afraid this dynasty is coming to an end very soon.

  11. CKL says:
    Jun 28, 2013 10:31 AM

    “PM would pitch a fit if he had the usually solid but seldom spectacular crew TB has had most of his career at the receiver position. PM does less with more”

    Peyton Manning brought a colts team to the playoffs that went 2-14 the next year without him

  12. You mean like 2008 when Brady went out game one and they went 11-5 ????

    “I hope you chowderheads have enjoyed it because I’m afraid this dynasty is coming to an end very soon.”

    People say that every year this time, hoping this will be the year they are right. Never happens.

  13. If anybody could deal with the loss of their three top receivers, it’s Tom Brady.

    He has had many personnel changes and he still triumphed. Do I wish they lose all their games?
    Certainly! But who can argue with their success?

  14. The Hernandez situation will be addressed with one standard comment that every coach and player on the team repeats ad nauseum –

    “We don’t comment on players no longer on the team”

    The media will become incredibly frustrated that Belichick and the rest of the personnel will not rise to their baiting and feeding frenzy.

    The team will move on, win the division again with 11-12 wins and we’ll see how they do in the playoffs.

  15. Let’s see, their whole offense was Gronk and the 2 TE set, and they’ll be without them both all season, if not longer (Hernandez done, Gronk probably too). They’ll be just fine.

    Maybe Cassel can come back and play TE, take them to another 11-5 season.

  16. Brady has got to be more than a little miffed about all of this — from the Welker trade, to signing Tebow (bringing the circus to town), to Gronk’s uncertainty, and now the Hernandez b/s. All after Brady made contractual concessions to the franchise in the spirit of “the team.” He’s gotta be pretty disgruntled about now. If the Pats begin a downward spiral once the season beings, it will be a lot of fun piling on.

  17. People are forgetting TB and the Pats have Goodell and the refs in their back pocket! That’s why they get all the favorable calls!

  18. Unfortunately as a Jets fan I remember when one of the best players in the league (Brady) went down, they absorbed it and we’re pretty competitive with Matt Cassel who never had any success with the Chiefs. So I am pretty confident they can absorb this. yes it sucks to be a Jet fan!

  19. this to me is silly, what they have to do actually is play Miami buffalo and the jets twice each which gets them a division title and a spot in the playoffs, in what would surely be the worst division in football if not for the pats. so at the end of the day the pats have 17 weeks of regular season to get ready and figure out how to win in the playoffs. if they were the rams for instance in the nfc west the need to figure thongs out would be accelerated. don’t worry pats fans my guess is 8 wins in your division gets you to the dance. good luck in the playoffs ill be rooting against you but I am quite sure you will be there.

  20. It is nice to see the self appointed experts feel that Brady/Belichick can pull this together with the team they have today. What everyone seems to be forgetting is the season hasn’t even started yet and this team is already in rough shape. Assuming the Patriots can make it through the season with no injuries they may be ok. We all know that is not going to happen and this team has absolutely no bench depth on offence. Adding to that having a defense that was the 25th rated unit in 2012 I can’t see how people are talking Super Bowl for team let alone playoffs.

  21. When “Jake Ballard” is the answer, you’re asking the wrong questions.

    This team is going to implode. Without that high-powered offense humming on all cylinders, they don’t have the defense to keep anyone off the field.

  22. thedoubleentandres says:
    Jun 28, 2013 10:52 AM
    CKL says:
    Jun 28, 2013 10:31 AM

    “PM would pitch a fit if he had the usually solid but seldom spectacular crew TB has had most of his career at the receiver position. PM does less with more”

    Peyton Manning brought a colts team to the playoffs that went 2-14 the next year without him
    And with fewer weapons, and interim HC and a worse OL than PM ever had, got a playoff berth under a rookie QB the following year.

    Meanwhile, PM has the second ranked D in the NFL last year and two really talented WRs, as well as good buddy Stokley, a good OL, solid run game and his team goes one and done, as usual while he contributes 3 turnovers and Rahim Moore gets blamed.

    I’m not saying PM isn’t one of the best QBs. Much as I hate him , he is. Just that I am sick of hagiography and excuse making for him when his play is part of why they lose (ie the last playoff game in Den) and his team is always built for him to have max success statwise (unlike the Pats and TB most of his years). We Pats fans know our QB played poorly and was one of the reasons they Pats lost vs Balt. Why are there so many PM fans, media and otherwise who can’t be realistic about him?

    I am glad BB does those joint team practices for the past few years. With the reduced amount of meaningful practice now mandated by the CBA, it’s one of the few ways to measure how much better your team is and to work on issues they have. You can’t really have patience because you don’t have as much practice time.

  23. I like how some people say the Pats are done, they say, “Oh no more Welker, Gronk hurt, Hernandez in jail and good luck with Tebow”. Yeah sure Gronk is still a question mark and we don’t know when he’ll be back but if he’s not, we get to see how Dobson and Boyce will develop. We also have Danny Amendola, sure he’s injury prone but he’s something, Jake Ballard is here, and Stevan Ridley along with Shane Vereen are only getting better. Above all that though, if we didn’t have those guys, we still have Brady at QB, Belichick at HC, and even Josh McDaniels at OC. So yeah, we’re “done”.

  24. After all the injuries alone to Gronk and Hernandez (pretending he never went on to kill anyone).. the Ballard move was always brilliant, always about value and always about depth at the key position Belichick was transforming the offense to be a focus of.

    It was never about tweaking the Giants (though Im sure it was a bonus).

  25. The Patriots will pick up discarded veterans cut during training camps. Brady, is still one of the best, but his long ball seemed to falter the last third of the year. Most of the long pass plays were YAK. Belichick will adjust the offense to the players he has, so there will be some change in attack, likely utilizing the running backs more (though they used them more than most people realize last year). So the Pats will certainly be competitive but with a different look, even if Brady begins to show age (long pass, etc).

    That said, the AFCE may not the cake walk that some assume. All the teams have good to excellent defenses, which along with the altered Patriots offense could lead to lower scoring games than in the past. Lower scoring games can sometimes allow teams with limited offenses to hang on for win. Moreover, if the Dolphins off-season efforts prove effective, then they would likely be a legitimate threat offensively.

    Bottom line, Pats will be competitive, but not dominant like in the past.

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