I'm usually a fan of 'flying under the radar,' when it comes to the talent on my favorite teams. I'd rather not let everyone know how good we are until we're on the field proving it.
I suppose I'll have to accept the fact that the New England Patriots are already topping 2009 preseason power rankings across the web. So much for inconspicuous.
Most writers and fans alike are expecting Tom Brady to be the difference maker, which will have the Patriots playing in January of 2010. I say that's baloney. Don't get me wrong...Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever take the field, and he certainly won't hinder their chances.
Looking at Matt Cassel's numbers from last year is what makes me think Tom 'Terrific' Brady won't be the factor which puts New England over the top. Cassel had close to 3700 yards passing, 21 touchdowns, and posted an 89.4 QB rating. Something tells me that this was not the area New England was worried about.
Again, having Tom back will be good, but it will not be their saving grace.
The real reason the 2009 Patriots are ready for another run at the Super Bowl is the changes that have been made on defense.
Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs add experience to the defensive backfield, and create depth by giving Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite and rookie Darius Butler some time to learn and prepare to take on starting roles in the future.
Tank Williams, James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather, and rookie Patrick Chung should create a solid pool of guys to use in the safety positions, and some of those guys may even help out at LB if need be.
If I can say one thing about the linebacker corps, it's that there won't be a lack of competition for playing time. Adalius Thomas, Tedy Bruschi and last year's rookie sensation Jerod Mayo will all get their fair share of time on the field, while Gary Guyton, Shawn Crable, Tully Banta-Cain, Vince Redd and Pierre Woods will compete for theirs.
Recent reports have also brought about the possibility of New England bringing in Derrick Burgess from the Raiders for a second or third round pick in the 2010 draft. Burgess is a DE in the Raiders' system, but would project to be an outside linebacker if he were to end up with the Patriots.
In the trenches, the Patriots bring back Richard Seymour, Jarvis Green, Mike Wright, Ty Warren, and add rookie Ron Brace into the mix. This is not exactly a weak point in the roster.
On offense...this is just getting ridiculous.
Tom Brady returns, and will be passing to Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Greg Lewis, Joey Galloway, Chris Baker, Ben Watson and Alex Smith.
In the ground game, let's just say that depth won't be an issue. The Patriots have added veteran running back Fred Taylor to last years stable which was already quite solid. Sammy Morris, Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvis Green-Ellis round out the offensive backfield.
As long as the offensive line produces a good season (which has been inconsistent over the last few years), there's no reason why this offense can't march down the field at any given moment during the 2009 season.
In conclusion, I suppose I'll live with the fact that this team is just too darn stacked to fly under the radar this year. Go Patriots!