Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Where do the Patriots go from here?

By Tyler Galicia

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Courtesy of Real Football Talk TV

The Patriots are coming off another solid campaign that saw them fall just shy of their fourth Super Bowl title in the last 10 years. As New England fans, Brady and his crew have spoiled us for a decade now, and anything short of a title draws the ire of the devoted fan base. Following up their 13-3 season as AFC Champions, what steps do the Pats take to ensure a title next year?

1. Keep Wes Welker by any means necessary. Yes, he dropped that (slightly overthrown) ball in the waning minutes of the Super Bowl, which likely would’ve sealed a victory, but the fact is that he did not. How quickly we forget what this 5’9’’ mustachioed man has meant to New England? During his five-year tenure in NE, Welker has caught 554 passes for 6,105 yards and 31 touchdowns. He has been the most reliable pass-catcher in the NFL. The Patriots would be fools to let him walk in free agency. If a long-term extension can’t be worked out, the franchise tag is always available to guarantee him an extra year in Foxborough. Welker is likely more effective for the Patriots than for another NFL team. He and Brady have chemistry that teams desire in any QB/WR tandem.

2. Address their needs for an outside/deep threat and secondary help via the draft or free agency. Their much maligned defense ranked 30th in the NFL, yet came on surprisingly strong in the postseason. They’re young, but they stepped up when it counted. If we would’ve known that the Giants would only score 21 points (19 on offense) in the Super Bowl, I think we all would have been confident in thinking that the Pats would be victorious. They still shuffled Devin McCourty between safety and corner all year and he struggled. They also tried out wide receivers Matt Slater and Julian Edelman in the secondary, and that went as you’d expect. I’d be surprised to see Belichick sit back and not go after someone like Cortland Finnegan, Brent Grimes, or Eric Wright. Any of whom would bring experience and talent to a secondary in need of help. Look for them to go after an outside deep threat in the draft, or in someone like Brandon Lloyd via free agency. This became a need during the Super Bowl, as Brady rarely threw more than 15-20 yards downfield, while Deion Branch is clearly not the player he used to be.

3. Draft a pass rusher and reinvigorate the defensive line. Vince Wilfork dominates opposing offensive lines, but he needs help. He’s more of a run-stopper than a blitzing lineman, and he needs someone to take some heat off of his double-teams. Kyle Love had a good season, and someone along side him and Wilfork could turn this into a scary D-Line. Getting younger and looking for a solid pass rusher in the draft could mean good things for this defense. Think Whitney Mercilus or Andre Branch.

The fans need to take a deep breath and relax. Keep in mind this team is coming off a Super Bowl defeat which could have won if they didn’t make a few errors. It’s truly amazing how 57 seconds at the end of a game can make Brady “the greatest QB to ever take the field” to being “overrated and old with a tarnished legacy.” This is the same team that has gone 64-16 over the last 5 years, has appeared in two Super Bowls and was two Eli Manning game-winning drives away from winning both of them. We’ve become greedy and spoiled as a fan base that we overreact in the most dramatic way possible when we don’t come out as champs every year. Sit back, see what adjustments this team makes, and get ready for another Super Bowl next year. And if that doesn’t work, just put yourself in the shoes of a Browns fan. That feels better, doesn’t it?

Tyler can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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