Welcome Total Sports Blog’s NFL Training Camp Previews. For the next 31 days we will preview each team, and predict their records. The chances that we predict any of these records to be right will be around 20%, but who cares? WE’RE TALKING FOOTBALL!!!
First up: The New England Patriots (AFC East)
2013 Record: 12-4 Lost AFC Championship Game
Passing Leader: Tom Brady 4343 YDS 25 TD 11 INT
Rushing Leader(s): Stevan Ridley 773 YDS 7 TD & LeGarrette Blount 772 YDS 7 TD
Receiving leader: Julian Edelman 105 REC 1056 YDS 6 TD
Leading Tackler: Dont’a Hightower 97 Tackles
Sacks Leader: Chandler Jones 11.5 Sacks
Int Leader: Logan Ryan 5 INT
FA losses: LeGarrette Blount RB, Aqib Talib CB, Dane Fletcher LB, Matthew Mulligan TE, Brandon Spikes LB
FA signings: Brandon Browner CB, Patrick Chung S, Josh Hull LB, Brandon LaFell WR, Darrelle Revis CB, Will Smith DE
1st RD Dominique Easley, DT Florida
2nd RD Jimmy Garoppolo, QB Eastern Illinois
4th RD Bryan Stork, C Florida State
James White, RB Wisconsin
Cameron Fleming, OT Stanford
6th RD Jon Halapio, G Florida
Zach Moore, DE Concordia-St. Paul
Jemea Thomas, CB Georgia Tech
7th RD Jeremy Gallon, WR Michigan
With the “worst” WR corps during Tom Brady’s tenure as the Patriots QB, Brady willed this team to a 12-4 season last year. TE Rob Gronkowski missed much of the season due to injury, TE Aaron Hernandez was too busy in jail awaiting trial on about 5 different murder charges, and Wes Welker’s replacement, Danny Ammendola, shockingly missed 4 games due to injury. Rookie WR’s Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson were so completely unreliable, that Julian Edleman became Brady’s go-to guy, with 150 targets and 105 receptions. RB LeGarrette Blount basically came out of nowhere and was forced into the lead role due to Stevan Ridley’s fumbling problems. He averaged 5 yards per carry, but is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pats didn’t add anyone to their backfield, so if Ridley’s fumbling problems come back, Brady might start to throw it even more.
This offseason the Patriots have retooled and look great on paper. They signed the best corner in the NFL in Darelle Revis, and added the monstrous 6-4 221 pound Brandon Browner to start opposite him, after his 4 game suspension. First round draft pick Dominique Easley, figures to provide some much need interior pass rushing ability along the defensive line. Although he may not be fully recovered from a knee injury suffered last season, he should emerge as a solid rusher. On offense, Brandon LaFell was signed to give the WR corps another legit set of hands for Brady. While this move looks good in July, don’t forget that Brady was sacked 40 times last season, mostly right up the middle. Many expected the Pats to be active in free agency to sure up that O-line, but settled for mid round draft picks to possibly protect Brady.
The Patriots play the 10th toughest schedule this year, with the last 3 games of their regular season against the rest of the AFC East. With revamped corners, and an overall improved defense, and the healthiest “Gronk” we’ve seen in a few years, the Patriots are once again the division favorites.