The Patriots 5 Biggest Threats To Another Superbowl Appearence.
NEPD Employees Contributor: Jeff Fidler
The Patriots are the clear favourite atop of the AFC mountain but when Belichick preaches anything, it’s what occurred final week/yr, doesn’t matter. Here is an early take a look at the 5 largest roadblocks in the best way of New England’s quest to another Superbowl.
5 Biggest Threats
- Pittsburgh Steelers – The Patriots have owned the Steelers in the course of the Brady & Belichick era. And there’s been one fixed all through that stretch. Tom Brady eating up the Steelers protection like alkaline fruits for a snack. Before final yr the Steelers haven’t INT’d Brady since 2005 & simply haven’t found a option to stifle Brady regardless of who’s calling the photographs defensively. Pittsburgh is once once more making an attempt to fix their defense or a minimum of part of it. This time with Tom Bradley. He’s hoping to alleviate a few of the pain followers get of their eyes from watching the secondary overlook to cowl Gronk, give Edelman 15 yards of cushion off the line & depart acres of yards uncovered in their zone scheme. The Corners are set in Haden, Burns & Mike Hilton in the slot. It’s the safetys which might be being looked at & probably tinkered with. Morgan Burnett was introduced in, seemingly to switch Mike Mitchell at FS but Bradley isn’t writing something in stone simply yet when it comes to set positions, which may be a great factor. You need interchangeable gamers back there regardless of scheme & it seems to be just like the Steelers are committed to that strategy with the decide of Terrell Edmonds. You’ll be able to anticipate him in Nickel/Massive Nickel packages this fall. From the surface wanting in, it appears just like the Steelers could be due for slight regression. Is this the yr Huge Ben’s street nightmares catch as much as the group? It’s night time & day, particularly in the pink zone where they throw far less & shockingly have hassle scoring TD’s. Things weren’t all the time roses with Haley & Ben however at peak, that offense was legit. How will the departure of Haley effect the offense? The defense hasn’t impressed worry or carried it’s truthful in some time & the ball may roll the opposite means when it comes to profitable so many close games like they did last yr. Nonetheless, you will have a respect a workforce with their talent on offense, throughout the defensive position & final years recreation was a dog battle. Regardless if we see them in Jan, that reg season matchup could have a huge impact on the playoff picture. (Key Participant: T.J. Watt appeared like a young Bosa brother out there together with his nicely positioned strikes, power & motor. The Wisconsin product also did an excellent job of masking area & dropping in protection. His numbers would have appeared lots better if he simply rushed the QB. Pittsburgh has been desperately trying to find that outdoors rusher to enrich that great DL & it appears like they discovered it. If Watt continues his rise it could possibly be just what the protection wanted while figuring out their secondary.
- Tennessee Titans – I can’t say how impressed I’m with the Titans. Jon Robinson & co are constructing something particular down there. If I used to be to level to a group (in addition to New England) on what strategy to take or how you construct a group it might Tennessee. Tampa Bay, being the Bucs, helped them out by choosing Winston over Mariota however the Titans have been hitting residence runs far and wide across that roster. From drafting Conklin & Lewan & constructing inside/out. To the acquisitions of Ryan, Butler & Lewis. Tennessee received their QB, protected him by building a line. Gave him an array of weapons to work with & targeted on the defense this past draft by choosing Eagles alum Harold Landry to rush the passer & Bama product Rashaan Evans to man the center of that protection. The largest transfer was at Head Coach although. With all due respect to Mike Mularkey & the “Exotic Smashmouth” this was the best transfer to make. Tennessee was predictable & at occasions one dimensional on offense. Not fairly Gary Kubiak degree where you’re actually calling out plays before the ball is napped however it was dangerous. Vrabel is a no nonsense coach that may also relate to gamers on a personal degree. You saw it from his first moments on the sidelines & in the locker room. Gamers respect him but also can relate contemplating Mike isn’t that far faraway from his enjoying days. Who is aware of if that is the yr all of it comes together however I anticipate this workforce to be in the SB/AFCCG in the subsequent 2-Three years. Theres an ideal storm of talent, starvation & youth in Tennessee. There just aren’t many teams on the market which might be as gifted & balanced on each side of the ball. (Key Player: Corey Davis took a while to make an actual impression in an precise recreation final yr but he arrived vs New England & showed precisely what he’s able to. Davis is a superb route runner with super quicks & wonderful footwork. Tennessee wants him to be a real #1 WR to help take some strain off Mariota)
- Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jag’s have been at the backside of the league for years however are firmly entrenched among the many prime teams in the AFC going forward. Last yr the staff was enjoying with home money but this season they’ve an enormous bullseye on their again from day 1. The defense could be one of the best in the league again. Their just dripping with expertise. From the rotation up entrance to the all star secondary & velocity demon backers patrolling the middle of the sector. Jacksonville is among the few groups in the league with the personnel to matchup towards anyone. Whether or not their in base or sub packages they have the power to stop the run/move from each which is rare in todays recreation. The story hasn’t modified that much in Duval though. Blake Bortles continues to be the most important obstacle to the workforce’s quick success. Bortles isn’t as dangerous as some make him out to be however he’s who he’s. Which is a QB that struggles to complete 60% & throws double digit INT’s yearly. It’ll be fascinating to see how defenses play him contemplating he lives off play motion & the large play. The Jaguars method (great D, t.o.p. offense w/ huge plays combined in) is one that has worked at occasions but in reality it’s extremely troublesome to win all of it that approach. Still in one recreation elimination matchup they deserve everyone’s full attention & respect. (Key Participant: D.J. Chark is strictly what the Jaguars offense thrives off. An enormous, deep menace with legit 4.3 velocity to reap the benefits of on play action. There are widespread denominators in Jaguar wins & this can be a massive one. Restrict the large play & pressure Bortles to go searching for different choices)
- Houston Texans – Once you speak about gifted groups you possibly can’t miss the Texans. Invoice O’Brien deserves a ton of credit score for a way he’s managed Deshaun Watson (My QB3 from that class), the offense & workforce generally. Especially when you think about he was virtually handcuffed because of the last GM there. O’Brien did a fantastic job at making issues straightforward for Watson from day 1. He didn’t change & throw his system out the window due to a new QB. Or attempt to match a square peg in a spherical hole. He took what Watson did greatest at Clemson, tailored it to his system & performed to his QB’s strengths. Sounds obvious but the league is affected by examples of coaches doing the exact opposite, in all probability as a result of they don’t know any totally different & have been taught that method. For those who’ve watched the Patriots during the last decade or so that you’ll notice they run a ton of the same plays however “dress them up” totally different pre snap to confuse the defense. This is precisely what O’B did in Houston & you possibly can anticipate extra of the same going ahead. It places lots of trust & communication between the QB/WR. They really need to be on the same web page due to the options out there within the passing recreation. The scary part of the workforce is the potential on the opposite aspect of the ball if everybody stays wholesome. Jadeveon Clowney played like DPOY in 2018 & was everywhere in the subject. If Watt & Mercilus can keep wholesome, Houstons DL could possibly be one of the best in the league to actually stability out the group. (Key Participant: D’Onta Foreman is a beast of a again at 6’/230 & runs a four.45. Foreman didn’t need many touches to point out he belongs within the league (87/411 yards) but suffered a torn Achilles in week 11 last yr. I think Houston will wait until he’s utterly healthy before bringing him again, which is the sensible play. That offense has plenty of firepower to sustain the damage)
- L.A. Chargers – Like the Texans, San Diego has dealt with its justifiable share of points & accidents the previous few years. As a football fan I can’t wait to see what they seem like *if* wholesome. As a Pats fan I wouldn’t need to see them, *healthy* in Jan. They have quietly put together a really potent protection. Once more, if they will stay on the sector that unit ought to be lethal. Up entrance you have got Bosa, the highly effective, technician with violent arms & motor. Paired with Ingram, who has an excellent leap off the road & means to get beneath anyone’s pads. These two alone can destroy your day but the group as an entire is far more than those two. The largest piece for them is a wholesome, practical Jason Verrett. He’s the most effective within the league however simply can’t get on the sector. If he does come again the Chargers would have a lockdown duo in Hayward & Verrett. Add in Derwin James, Uchenna Nwosu roaming the m.o.f./shallow zone & you’ve gotten you enforcers within the 2nd degree. The Chargers won’t inspire a ton of worry because of our past run-in’s with them but that doesn’t matter going forward. 2018 is a brand new yr, the division is winnable & the workforce could be very potent all over. Forrest Lamp is one other guy that also needs to give them an enormous increase up entrance on the OL if he’s on schedule for this fall. (Key Player: Forrest Lamp & Jason Verrett might simply take this group to the subsequent degree if wholesome. Verrett is a versatile water-bug that competes for every little thing & Lamp was one of many smartest, versatile OL’m to enter the draft in 5-10 years)
- Okay.C. Chiefs – Once more this could be a lil’ surprise for some but I’m all in on Mahomes (My QB1 from that class) He will surely have rising pains but this player has some particular traits about him. The largest being his arm expertise, Mahomes has a Rodgers-like arm & as much confidence to go together with it. Okay.C. had to go together with Smith last yr because continuity & the group being so close but they made the appropriate transfer in choosing Mahomes & trading Smith a couple of months ago. I’m truly an enormous Alex Smith fan however he had critical hassle beating man & pushing the ball down the sector at occasions over his profession. Mahomes may have no such issues after he gets a couple of games beneath his belt. His whip is particular. From the power & placement to altering up the tempo on his passes, Mahomes really was blessed in that area. He can flick it 60+ on the transfer & reportedly impressed coaches together with his potential to select up the playbook after getting drafted. That offense is all rev’d up & ready to go. Think about defending Sammy Watkins as a third or 4th choice on offense? That’s truly what many DC’s shall be dealing with this fall. You will have Hunt, a balanced bowling ball, who can make an influence in the air or floor but in addition need to stop Kelce, Hill & Conley out vast. For the first time in a while, the highlight is on the defense to see if they will sustain their play over the previous few years without items like Hali, Peters & different departures. (Key Participant: Dee Ford can be trying to take over Hali’s spot on defense however that gained’t be a simple activity. Hali was a terrific run defender with an arsenal of strikes to get to the QB. The players couldn’t be extra totally different. Ford is all about that burst off the line & dipping around/beneath his opponents, a finesse man. Hali was a strong run stopper with violent palms & a motor that didn’t give up. Huge footwear to fill for Ford)
Subsequent up, 5 “Sleeper” groups that would surprise some individuals this yr & a take a look at some new faces in the AFCE.
This entry is filed beneath the class: NFL Draft.
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