New England Patriots: Headed Downhill

Joe WillettSenior Writer IFebruary 5, 2008

If Bill Belichick thought he was having a headache, just wait until he gets a first look at the 2008 roster.

Asante Samuel is going to be gone, which means that either Randall Gay or Ellis Hobbs is going to have to step into that No. 1 spot that was once occupied by one of the best DBs in the NFL.

The Patriots are going to miss those six interceptions and the intimidation that he brings to this team's defense.

Another problem is that Randy Moss could attempt to look for a different place to play football.

The whole team-first policy that the Patriots use is probably going against everything Randy Moss stands for. He seems like the player who doesn't prefer to be just one piece in a very strong puzzle, but THE piece in a fairly strong offense.

This departure could cause a domino effect that could shake up the entire recieving core.

Wes Welker is a great slot reciever, but he isn't the type of player who would thrive as number one. He prefers to go unnoticed and then surprise people before popping back into obscurity—something he has done his whole football career.

Donte Stallworth is a good reciever with a lot of speed, but can he handle going from the third best reciever on a team, to needing to be the best?

The loss of Randy Moss would mean that teams don't have to send an extra defender or two to make sure Moss isn't getting open. This extra help is going to go toward the rest of the recievers who became used to running around almost uncovered all over the field while everybody tried to cover Randy Moss.

This leads to more ability to cover the recievers better, or, as we saw be very effective in the Super Bowl, more blitz schemes to make sure that Tom Brady gets consistent pressure, as it seemed like the constant pressure got to him by the end of the game.

This team should still win their division, make it to the playoffs, but it is hard to imagine this team rising above the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers.  It won't be a bad season, but would be hard to stomach for Boston fans who have become so acustomed to winning over the past year or so. 

19-0 was a once in a lifetime chance, but in the strong AFC, another Super Bowl appearance could be difficult if these two key players make a mad dash toward free-agency and more money.

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