Veteran leadership was once the strongest trait of New England’s locker room. It’s no secret that with several retirements, trades, and free agency departures, gaps have grown in the leadership and the team has suffered for it.
Tom Brady put it best by saying, "Games that we lose in the fourth quarter, games that we lose in the second half, or losing on the road like we did, that can be lack of trust, lack of confidence, there are a lot of issues you have when that repeats itself time and time again over the course of the season."
In that respect, the Patriots have some serious issues to address. With that, these are the guys that need to be vocal leaders in the Patriots locker room in 2010.
“Mr. Everything” is now the longest-tenured player on the Patriots roster, and immediately garners respect from his teammates for his contributions year-in and year-out. He put that respect to use in the playoff loss to Baltimore this past season, but with his level of respect and experience, he could even hold guys accountable on a consistent basis.
Light’s leadership will be important on the field as he continues to teach Sebastian Vollmer in the ways of the NFL, guiding him along to be the heir to the left tackle position in New England.
More importantly, Light is the team’s representative in the NFLPA. He’ll be approached with questions regarding player rights under the current collective bargaining agreement, and could become a leader in that regard as the labor tension thickens nearing the deadline before a 2011 lockout.
This one may seem obvious, but Tom Brady wasn’t the leader he needed to be last year. In his very own words, “I sucked at doing that.” Still, he was never as responsible for leadership in the locker room as he is now.
With a bevy of young talent at receiver, it’s up to Brady to take charge and demand accountability on their part. Reeling in balls from a Hall-of-Fame quarterback should help them in that regard, so they have no excuses.
Many pundits have bounced back and forth the notion that Meriweather is becoming a first-round bust, but I strongly disagree. His tackling may not be the cleanest, but his team-leading five interceptions as a safety speaks for itself. The bright future of New England’s secondary will look to Meriweather as a beacon.
Not only that, but the defense may look to Meriweather’s intensity to provide them with an extra boost of motivation when the going gets tough.
It’s funny to think that a third-year player can now be considered a leader on New England’s defense, when just a few years ago, young guys had a hard time even cracking the roster.
The losses of Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi to retirement have really hurt the leadership of the linebacking corps and the defense as a whole. Jerod Mayo learned valuable leadership lessons from those two, and knows that now is the time for him to step up and start holding guys accountable.
As the figurative, literal, and contractual leader of the defense, Wilfork’s role is bigger than any on the team—pun (slightly) intended. He has seniority, and his teammates will look to his swagger and attitude to give them an identity this coming year.
It’s highly encouraging to hear Wilfork say things like, “If you are on the field, you have to give me 100 percent...If you can't give me what I'm giving you on the field, I don't need you on the field with me.” This is exactly the type of leadership New England’s locker room sorely needs in this brand new era of Patriots football.