Taking a Look into the Future

Devastation has run rampant throughout New England.  Randy Moss is gone and not coming back.  I know it hurts to hear, but it’s time to face reality.  Bill Belichick, the coach that we have all come to know and love, is a realist.  He realized that after this season Randy Moss would no longer be a member of the New England Patriots.  At the conclusion of the 2010 season, Belichick would say goodbye to one of the greatest receivers in NFL history and receive nothing in return for him.  So, similar to the scenario that unfolded with Richard Seymour a year ago, coach Belichick decided to pull the trigger and get value for an expiring asset.  Don’t get me wrong, the Patriots are certainly worse off without Moss this season.  But, that is when you have to broaden your horizons and take a look at the big picture.

The constant need for positive results sometimes puts blinders on us as fans.  This isn’t the same team with the same philosophy as the Pats of the early 2000’s.  This isn’t even the same team with the same philosophy as the 2007 Patriots.  The 2010 Patriots are a transition team.  The average age of the Pats starting defense is 26.  Offensively, Tom Brady now has two rookie tight ends at his disposal.  Brandon Tate is emerging as a consistent option out wide.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis is putting a strangle hold on the starting running back spot.  The offensive line is the oldest position group on the team, but they are still one of the best units in the league.  This team is transitioning to become more athletic on defense, while more stout and conservative on offense.  The offense’s transition doesn’t mean that no shot will be taken down the field, but that the percentage of underneath routes for Welker, Hernandez, and Gronkowski will increase, while the number of shots down the field for what formerly was Moss’ spot will diminish slightly.

With this Moss deal done, the Patriots now have 10 draft picks in 2011:

-1st Round
-1st Round (OAK – Richard Seymour)
-2nd Round (CAR – 2010 3rd Round)
-2nd Round
-3rd Round (MIN – Randy Moss)
-3rd Round
-4th Round
-4th Round (DEN – Laurence Maroney)
-5th Round
-6th Round (NO – David Thomas)

There was some heat surrounding coach Belichick and his draft struggles from 2006-2008.  I completely agree with questioning some decision in that time period.  But, taking a look at the results from the 2009 and 2010 NFL draft, you have to be much more optimistic about draft day decisions for the Patriots.  The 2009 draft brought the Patriots Pat Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Tate, Jake Ingram, Myron Pryor, and Julian Edelman, among others.  Those players are all key contributors to the 2010 Patriots.  The 2010 draft brought the Pats Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, and Zoltan Mesko, among others.  These rookies have all made an impact on the team this season, some even have (uncharacteristic in Belichick’s system) starting spots, in McCourty, Cunningham, and Spikes.

When you try and take an unattached, rational look at the deal, you have to be excited about what the future holds.  Eight picks in the first four rounds gives the Pats an opportunity to make huge additions to their team for 2011.  Compile those selections with the last two draft classes and the Patriots now look like one of the best young teams in the league, but a team still led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.  I’m excited about what the remainder of the 2010 season has in store, as well as the 2011 draft and beyond.

FYI: There is no shot that Vincent Jackson will be a Patriot.  It just doesn’t make any sense.

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