2009 New England Patriots Season Preview
2009 New England Patriots preview from MadduxSports.com. With the AFC East being one of the harder divisions to forecast in terms of nfl point spread success, be sure to have an ace in the hole on your side this season. That ace being Maddux Sports' weekly NFL picks.
2009 New England Patriots Predictions
By Adam Barone
Obviously the big story in Foxborough is the return of Tom Brady. The Patriots went 11-5 last season with Matt Cassell running the offense, but became just the second team to ever miss the playoffs with that record. They also made a couple of veteran additions on offense in honor of the return of their leader, but Bill Belichick will have to find a way to replace former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Brady will have to get used to being in the pocket and not worrying about the safety of his surgically repaired knee, and once he does there’s little reason to believe that he won’t be able to get back to his 50 touchdown pass form. Randy Moss and Wes Welker are still around, and the Pats added 37-year-old former Buccaneer Joey Galloway to the mix along with former Eagle Greg Lewis. Galloway caught just 13 passes in 2008 following three straight 1,000 yard seasons. There’s also plenty of depth at tight end, including Ben Watson, Chris Baker, and Alex Smith—another former Buc.
The Pats have never really been the kind of team to have a premier running back lining up behind Brady, and this season will be no different. Long-time Jaguar Fred Taylor, now 33 years old, joins Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Sammy Morris in the backfield. Clearly the duties will be split a number of different ways, but the majority of first and second down running will go to Taylor and Maroney, while Faulk will still be the third down back.
The offensive line is usually a quality unit, and has plenty of depth. Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Steve Neal, and Nick Kaczur are all back for 2009, though none were in the Pro Bowl last season. Light did make an appearance, along with some lizards, in a commercial for a popular beverage. We probably shouldn’t mention its name. So be it.
The Patriots ranked 10th overall in defense last season, and an already stacked defensive line will get some help with the addition of rookie Ron Brace. Brace, a “big boned” defensive tackle, joins Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, and Ty Warren. Seymour had eight sacks last season, most on the team. Linebacker Jerod Mayo, a rookie last season, wasted no time in making his mark on the team and the league. He led the entire team in tackles with 128, and added a forced fumble for good measure. Adalius Thomas is on one side and will be coming back from a broken arm in 2008, which forced him to miss seven games. He finished with just 34 tackles and five sacks. Mike Vrabel is gone and will be replaced by either Pierre Woods or Tully Banta-Cain.
Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden will be the starting corners after Ellis Hobbs was traded to Philadelphia. Springs is 33 years old, but the Patriots think he still has something left to give. Brandon Meriweather, who collected 83 tackles and four interceptions in 2008, will start at safety, alongside either James Sanders or one of a pair of rookies—Patrick Chung and Darius Butler.
Stephen Gostkowski has done a fine job in replacing Adam Vinatieri. He led the entire league in scoring last season and is back for 2009. Hobbs used to return kickoffs, and a replacement will need to emerge in camp. Welker and Faulk should continue to return punts.
Bill Belichick is still one of the best head coaches in the league, and the Pats have always let overpriced players go in favor of discounted veterans. New England should be back at the head of the pack with Tom Brady returning and Jerod Mayo emerging as a leader on defense.