It has been theorized on these pages more than once this New England Patriots offseason that Bill Belichick will endeavor this season to harken back to his much more balanced, bigger, stronger, more physical past.
Aaron Hernandez’ off-field issues and subsequent release from the team have only hastened that transition, which began with the departure of Wes Welker to Denver and continued with bigger bodies added to the mix.
As camp begins this week, building a receiver corps from scratch for Tom Brady may still be priority one, but the likes of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and maybe even LaGarrette Blount — the running game – grabs much more of the spotlight than we’ve seen here since possibly 2005.
Out of necessity, the New England Patriots will again strive for balance. Clearly, the numbers dictate it when it comes to the playoffs.
Balanced Patriots teams ripped off a 10-1 playoff mark through 2005 with three Super Bowl wins. Pass-happy Pats teams from 2006 on have gone 7-6 in the postseason with no titles.
Hernandez or not, this team is poised for an attitude adjustment.
WHAT’S BRADY GOT LEFT?
Turning 36 next week, Tom Brady remains at the top of the NFL quarterback heap, reliable, dangerous and efficient.
A wide receiver group of Danny Amendola, Michael Jenkins, rookie top pick Aaron Dobson and host of longshots assures that Brady’s numbers will tumble this season. Of course, Rob Gronkowski’s health issues may add to the problem, making the recovery and addition of Jake Ballard at the tight end a huge acquisition.
The Brady window remains open, but for how long? This has to be a letdown from the likes of Welker and Randy Moss or even the past seasons with Welker and the two tight end sensations (Gronk and Hernandez).
Could this season mark the point at which the ultimate competitor in Brady begins to wind down?