After being blown out by the Ravens in the first round of the 2009 playoffs, the Patriots had obvious issues going into the offseason. So far, it appears not many of those issues have been addressed. Re-signing Vince Wilfork and Tully Banta-Cain is a start. However, watching Julius Peppers, Anquan Boldin, and Antonio Cromartie sign to other teams leaves many wondering how the Patriots plan to improve for next year.
Kraft reassured the public on WEEI radio that, “(The Patriots) are never going to sell our soul for one season and say ‘this is the year’.” He also mentioned the New England Patriots have won more games than any other team since the Krafts' bought them 16 years ago, which is a great statistic, however, it does not solve the current problems on the depth chart.
ESPN football analyst Tedy Bruschi has called out his former team more than once, saying he believes the Patriots need to take advantage of free agency and sign some veteran talent. The AFC East is no longer a cake walk for New England; the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins have improved themselves with valuable offseason additions, and the Patriots seem uninterested in making any move outside of re-signing their current players.
Brian Westbrook is still available, and pending he doesn’t retire, the 30-year-old running back could greatly improve the passing game out of the backfield, and provide veteran leadership in the locker room.
This aspect of the Patriots offense is currently being covered by the 33-year-old Kevin Faulk, arguably our best receiving back. “Fragile” Fred Taylor remains a question mark, and Laurence Maroney’s game remains inconsistent.
Re-signing Leigh Bodden is a good first step in repairing the New England secondary. The unit has talent and needs to look for additional help from the draft. A returning Tully Banta-Cain and his pass rush will help the secondary. However, New England needs to do a better job of getting to the quarterback in 2010.
David Patten is a familiar face and has been productive in the Patriot system in the past. Depending on Welker’s recovery, he has a good chance of seeing the field in 2010. Julian Edelman had a solid rookie year and stepped up when Wes Welker went down.
There is still room for improvement, as Welker will be coming off major knee surgery and may not be able to put up the numbers he has in the past. David Patten will be 36 at the start of the season, and Randy Moss isn’t getting any younger. Don’t be surprised if New England looks to find Brady another target before the 2010 season kicks off.
The Patriots have some personnel issues to address before the 2010 season. Many of the big-name free agents have come and gone, and New England appears to be confident in their abundance of 2010 draft picks as a means for improvement.
It’s hard not to trust a team that has performed so well in the past decade.
True to Patriot fashion, Mr. Kraft did not provide listeners with many offseason answers during his WEEI interview, and instead echoed the outlook of the Patriots organization: “We’re concerned with how many football games we win at the end of the year.” With the way they performed in last season's playoffs, there is only room to improve.