• OC Mike Pouncey signs contract extension OC Mike Pouncey signs contract extension Reports say the deal is a 5 year deal worth 44.75 million with 22 million guaranteed
  • Fins bring WR Crabtree in for visit Fins bring WR Crabtree in for visit Team also looking to visit with Greg Jennings
  • TE Clay signs with the Bills TE Clay signs with the Bills A 5 year deal worth $38 million with $20 million guaranteed...Fins declined to match
  • WR Wallace traded to the Vikings WR Wallace traded to the Vikings Fins send Wallace and a 7th round pick to Viks for a 5th rounder

     

Gap between Pats and Fins is shrinking

Tom Brady will find it just a bit harder in the AFC East this year.

Tom Brady will find it just a bit harder in the AFC East this year.

I want to preface this by saying that I am NOT writing off the New England Patriots this year, and with good reason. Tom Brady is still a top 5 QB in this league. The Patriots offensive line is one of the best in the business, and RB Steven Ridley is poised for another big year. The Pats are also stout against the run, and were a top 10 rushing defense last year.

The Pats have a favorable schedule this year…and could easily start the season 4-0 while Miami could start 1-3. And two of the Pats final 4 games are home against Cleveland and Buffalo.

Always nice when you need some late season wins during your playoff push.

Yes, the New England Patriots are a dangerous team.

But the kinks in the armor are beginning to appear.

First, the Patriots top 3 receivers…Wes Welker, Rob Gronkoski, and Aaron Hernandez are gone. Gronk is still around, but his injury problems are still persistent. And as of this writing,questionsremainasto whether he will be available at all this season.Between those three, that is about 2500 receiving yards and 22 TDs from last season…gone.Even if Gronk is able to return at some point, will he be at 100%?

Sure, the Pats still have Tom Brady. But that is a 37yr old Brady, not a 27 yr old Brady. He is a step slower, the arm is a little weaker and his current starting WRs barely had 100 catches between them last year.

  • Amendola 63 catches (can’t stay healthy)
  • Edlemann 21 catches (as a single covered THIRD option)
  • Jenkins 40 catches

According to numbers compiled by Chris Wesserling of NFL.com,

Brady posted a 65.7 completion percentage, a 23-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 106.6 passer rating with 7.9 yards per attempt on snaps with Gronkowski on the field. Those numbers plummeted to a 58.9 completion percentage, an 11-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and an 87.1 passer rating with 7.1 yards per attempt on snaps without Gronkowski.

Brady’s 2012 touchdown percentage was his lowest since 2009. His yards per attempt were at their lowest since 2008, and his completion percentage at its lowest since 2006.

Now there is no Wes Welker.

Also, keep in mind that the Patriots offense is geared to a 2 TE system, something the Pats will not be able to fully implement if Gronk does not return healthy. Changing your offensive schemes is never easy…even if you have Tom Brady under center.

And while the Pats did draft Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce in the draft, receivers take time to develop, if they develop at all. Let’s face it, Belichick’s track record at drafting receivers is sub-par AT BEST.

While New England’s run defense was very formable last year, their pass defense gave up over 270 yards per game and was ranked 29th in the NFL last year. (Even lower than the Fins.)

New England did try to address it in this year’s draft with Ryan Logan and Duron Harmon. But both lack top end speed. (Enter Mike Wallace.)

They resigned Aqib Talib, but he was a part of the problem last year. Talib gave up a 66% completion percentage against opposing QBs last season, and QBs also averaged a passer rating of over 100 against him.

So what does all this mean? Am I predicting the utter collapse this season of the New England Patriots? Not at all. They should certainly be in the thick of the playoff race this year.

But don’t go anointing them 2013 AFC East champs just yet.

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James Lancaster

James Lancaster

When not fighting crime or sleeping, James enjoys working out, playing with his K9 partner and his kids, participating in his "On The Fin Side" radio show, and working on this website.
James Lancaster

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One Response to Gap between Pats and Fins is shrinking

  • Brian Catanzaro

    Nice job, James. VERY interesting stat with Gronk on/off the field.

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

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