Yesterday we caught up with Ricky Keeler of Foxboroblog, today we talk to FanSided’s own Jamie Pacheco about the state of the Patriots, what to expect from them tonight and what to expect the rest of the season. You can read my answers to Jamie’s questions here.
The Patriots finished with the best record in the NFL last season but were bounced from the playoffs by the Jets at Foxboro, is there any lingering effect from that game heading into this year? Do you feel the Jets are more of a threat than last year or less?
“I think that you may have seen the lingering effect once free agency started. Bill Belichick realizes that he has a team that can win it all and made moves in both the draft and free agency to address major issues that the Pats were able to hide last season, that is, until the playoffs. Recall that this was supposed to be a rebuilding team last season, but they went 14-2. Tom Brady said on Monday that he will “never get over” the loss to the Jets, so there is some extra motivation there. Honestly, I’m not sure what to think of the Jets this year. They will be tough for sure, and much of the team remained intact, but I don’t know how Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason replacing Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery will work. If the new look of the Patriot defense can actually generate pressure, that could be the missing piece that puts the Patriots over the top of the Jets come playoff time.”
The Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl in six seasons despite great success in the regular season, with Tom Brady nearing the tail end of his career is there any fear in the fanbase that the window could be closing?
“There is definitely a little fear of that proverbial window closing, but Tom Brady wants to play for several more years and coming off of last season, who’s to say he can’t? The team has drafted well over the past two or three seasons, so there is a young nucleus to the team despite all of the veterans. If the window is going to stay open, I think it’s more dependent on the young players developing further than it is Tom Brady’s age.”
Outside of the splashy moves, what was the best offseason move the Patriots made?
“I’m going to go two ways with this question. The best thing the Patriots did in-house was signing guard Logan Mankins long term. Mankins brings stability to the line for the foreseeable future. In terms of free agency, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the signing of DE Andre Carter was the Patriots’ best move. He’s looked good in training camp and has shown that he still has the pass rushing moves that garnered him 11 sacks in 2009. He got those 11 sacks playing defensive end next to Albert Haynesworth (as opposed to outside linebacker last season), and early signs point to him possibly getting good sack numbers again this season.”
How much of the starters can we expect to see in tonight’s game?
“I’ve heard everything from two series to a whole first half. The way Belichick usually works is if he sees good things from the starters, they’ll be in for just a few series. However, we’ve also seen the starters play poorly and Belichick keep them in the game fro a whole half plus. It’s tough to pin down, so I’d say it’s performance-dependent.”
Give me a prediction for tonight and this season.
“I think tonight may be a little wake-up call for the younger players (back-ups) who put up 47 on the Jaguars, and it will be good for them. I’m going to say Bucs 27, Pats 20. As for the season, I’m going with 12-4, for now. “