Let’s talk about the team that most of America loves to hate, the New England Patriots.
I think they got better at tight end, better at cornerback. Darius Butler, now with another year, will be a better cover guy, and Devin McCourty, the first-round pick this season, the corner out of Rutgers, he helps them be better at cornerback. Definitely better at corner, definitely better at tight end. I think Crumpler, the veteran they picked up, is still solid, and the guy they picked up in the second round, the kid out of Arizona, Rob Gronkowski, he’s like Russ Francis in his prime. He’s outstanding. They got better there.
The receivers are the same. Edelman will be a little better. They’ve had Welker. But the backup quarterback situation, Brian Hoyer is just a fringe backup. A lot of these teams are just an injury away from absolute mediocrity, really.
Their defense will be fine. They don’t have a lot of depth on the defensive front. Their starters are fine but if somebody goes down, they’re lacking a lot of depth, like a lot of teams. They’re linebackers are good. Mayo is still a Pro Bowl talent. Derrick Burgess can be outstanding.
But all things told, they’re an injury away. It’s a tough division. I’m surprised more teams don’t make an effort to find better backup QBs. The same goes for Indianapolis. They’re very fortunate to go so many years without their guy getting banged up. They’re one injury away from really falling back.
Do you see Tom Brady being a 25/12 guy next year (TD/INT) or a 40/10 guy?
I think he’ll be somewhere around 30 and 10 maybe. He still has it. The receivers there change quite a bit. They’ve got Welker. They’ve got Edelman. He’s got the tight ends now. They have a little bit of a running game. They’re getting up there (in age) but their offensive line should be solid. Their backups, they don’t have a lot of depth. But if Brady is on the field he’s always going to throw for yards and touchdowns. It’s not going to be a dynamic year with 40 TDs but he’ll be productive. When the team around you changes you’ve got to develop a little bit of chemistry and that takes time. He’ll be good, his typical Tom Brady self, but the numbers will be down a bit, I think.
If you could have done one thing differently this offseason for the New England Patriots, what would you have done?
I’d have gone after a more seasoned backup QB, for sure. Maybe added some more offensive line depth. They did pick up Torry Holt. Of course he’s lost a step but he’s a veteran smart receiver and leader. Basically the backup QB and O-line depth, maybe a running back, but the biggest thing is a better backup QB. They’re only an injury away and there are QBs more proven than this Hoyer kid.