By Ron Leyba
Last season, NFL guru Brian Billick said that if Tom Brady and the Patriots were able to thrive on offense in 2013, he belongs in the Hall of Fame right away. 2014 was a weird year for the Patriots to say the least. Prior to that season, the team had been known as having a high flying offense since 2006. Last season, it became clear that the days of Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Brandon Lloyd, and other great receivers had finally come to an end. Don’t worry, though. The Patriots have just revived Pats-football from the Corey Dillon era.
Aaron Dobson and Kembrell Thompkins, who were supposed to be the savior for the Patriots in 2013 gave in to their rookie nerves and became known for dropping passes that any NFL level receiver could bring down. This forced the Patriots to evolve, and evolve they did. Instead of focusing on the deep threat, they went with a gradual ground and pound offense. Julian Edelman became known for his slot plays and his midfield speed, Stevan Ridley, despite the fumbling issues, was a consistent RB1, and Blount was the best power runner the NFL has seen since the peak of Jerome Bettis in the early 2000s.
So what can the Patriots expect for next season? Honestly, fans should start getting their hopes up because, as of right now, it seems as though the Patriots are a lock for the AFC Championship Game. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are both aging, and they do not have many seasons left. They both want to establish their legacy as the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL and their teams are doing all they can to accommodate. Both the Patriots and the Broncos have begun an arms race to acquire the most talent to win it all. For the Patriots, the biggest change comes on defense. By the defensive signings of cornerbacks Revis and Browner, the Patriots officially have the best shutdown corner tandem in the league. Teams will be weary to throw the deep ball, and the midfield offense that the Patriots have will be as dangerous as ever. But how about that offense?
Sure, Thompkins and Dobson struggled in 2013, but they were nervous. These two rookies went straight from college to Foxboro, and their nerves got to them. There’s no shame in that. Towards the end of the season, though, it was very clear that each of the players was coming into their own, and after working with Tom Brady for the entire off season, they should be good to go in 2014. Also, Julian Edelman will be back. Pats fans across the world were worried about losing Edelman, especially after losing Wes Welker the year before, but the fact that he is back is amazing news. Edelman is on pace for another 1000 yard season, and will contribute greatly. Next season, expect the Patriots to make the AFC Championship Game for sure, and consider their odds of winning the Super Bowl of being pretty good.