Now that the NFL Draft has come to an end and Free Agency is winding down, expectations for the 2009 New England Patriots are high.
Patriots boast Tom Brady saying that he is healthy and ready to go, the addition of Fred Taylor, Joey Galloway, and veteran defensive backs Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs. Why wouldn't the expectations be high?
But the questions remain in my mind: "Are the expectations of this team too high?"
Is Tom Brady going to be the same ol' quarterback that the Patriot nation has come to know and adore?
Are the new rookies and new veterans going to really make a difference?
Are we going to see Jason Taylor or Julius Peppers in a Pats uniform?
Let's start with that first question.
First of all, the expectations for this team are high every year. However, somehow this team seems to overcome its obstacles.
Even on that fateful Sep. 7 in Kansas City, Belichick sent in a quarterback that hadn't started a game since his high school days, yet Cassel produced more than expected, and, in a way, created drama in Denver.
Even though the Patriots didn't make the playoffs, I believe they did what they do best: overcome and step up to the challenge.
Now, the next question, is Tom Brady going to be the same?
Yes; I have complete faith in Brady coming back full force. The reason is the New England offensive line. That offensive line does a remarkable job protecting its quarterback. If they can do as good of job as they have done for the last few seasons, Brady will be back in MVP form in no time.
Also, it's not like the Patriots don't give Brady new toys to play with every year. This year it's Fred Taylor, a power runner who is willing to share downs with Maroney, Joey Galloway, a good No. 2 receiver, and two new tight ends that have produced for their former teams.
Plus, as No. 83 says, "He doesn't run that well anyway..." Just kidding, Tom.
Are the new rookies and veterans going to really make an impact on this season?
I am, unfortunately, inclined to say, "No" to the rookies portion of the question. The reason for that is because Patrick Chung is going to be a safety behind Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders, both starters and both having nice success.
Also, Darius Butler is going to have to earn a starting spot. However he is going to have to compete with two veterans, one of which has experience dealing with Terrell Owens. So, that job competition is going to be very difficult. Brandon Tate is coming off of an injury and is also entering a very difficult competition.
Let's face it: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Joey Galloway, and Greg Lewis are all good receivers. Now, when it comes to the veterans coming to the team, I believe they will make a great difference. Fred Taylor, even though he's older, is still a feared running back. Chris Baker and Alex Smith have great hands as receivers and yet still are talented run and pass protectors.
As I have mentioned before, Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden are going to be New England's starting corners because they have the experience to deal with high profile receivers.
Speaking of defensive veterans, will we see Jason Taylor or Julius Peppers in a Patriots uniform?
I personally think that the Patriots should say, "Screw it" and get both. Realistically, I believe that Jason Taylor would make a better fit both financially and emotionally.
Taylor will bring a leadership quality that seems to just fit with the Patriot scheme.
Peppers is a great player, but he won't even sign his tag to get more teams to talk to him. What does that say about a guy? Come on, man, it's $17 million guaranteed.
This 2009 team isn't going to be the 2000 team or the 2007 team, but this team will face their very difficult schedule with grace and dignity. Hopefully, they make the playoffs this year, but, then again, you never know with the NFL.