The New England Patriots have had a pretty successful offseason in early 2017, retooling for yet another Super Bowl run, after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in an incredible 25-point comeback. The front office re-signed some key players, as well as gain a few stars and low-key budget players along the way. All in all, can this team compare to the 16-0 roster in 2007 who made the Super Bowl, but ultimately lost to Eli Manning and the New York Giants?
There is no need to beat around the bush here, as the Patriots have had the same quarterback since 2001 in Tom Brady. The 5-time Super Bowl champion has carried his load, and is consistently winning for the Patriots. Back in 2007, Brady was at his peak when it came to his statistics. The then 30-year old threw for 50 TDs, 4,806 yards, and just a mere 8 INTs, leading the Patriots to a historic 16-0 regular season record. Given they had an all-time great in Randy Moss on the roster, these stats are still impressive to say the least.
Brady is now turning 40-years old in August, and the future Hall of Famer has openly stated he wants to play six or seven more years in the NFL. After Super Bowl 51, Brady is more fueled up than ever for yet another run Super Bowl title. With Brady’s new tools, he is more prepared than ever for that historic sixth Super Bowl title.
In 2007, the Patriots were very one-dimensional when it came to their offense. The running game in New England was led by Lawrence Maroney, who rushed for 835 yards, and only 6 TDs. Also within the depth chart was Sammy Morris (384 yards and 3 TDs), and 2016 Patriots Hall of Fame inductee Kevin Faulk (265 yards on 62 attempts).
This year, the franchise should be a little more balanced out with free agent pickups in Mike Gillislee, who rushed for 577 yards and 8 TDs with the Bills in 2016 as an intended backup, and former Bengal Rex Burkhead, who ran for 344 yard and 2 scores. The Pats also have veterans in Dion Lewis and Super Bowl breakout James White, who know the system and play fairly well in it. This team seems more balanced than it was in 2007, and could prove to be a dual threat in both the rushing and the passing game
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:
In 2007, the Patriots were led by the duo of Randy Moss and Wes Welker, who combined for 2,668 yards and 31 TDs (Moss had 23 TDs that season, an NFL Record). Their TE spot wasn’t as lethal as it could be in 2017, as the roster spot was occupied by current Baltimore Raven Benjamin Watson, who caught 36 receptions for 389 yards and 6 TDs.
The Patriots have recently acquired Brandin Cooks in a trade with the New Orleans Saints, in result of giving up their first-round draft pick. The Patriots also have veterans in Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, second-year man Malcolm Mitchell, and 2013-acquired Danny Amendola. At the TE Spot, they obviously have none other than Rob Gronkowski, who hasn’t had a fully healthy season since 2014, the year the Patriots won Super Bowl 49.
The health of Gronkowski is of major concern in 2017, after a season-ending back injury last year. Per insurance, the Patriots picked up former Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen. Receiving-wise, this team could very well outperform the 2007 roster, especially if Gronkowski stays healthy throughout the year.
The last few years in Patriots history, their offensive line has been a major concern. In 2016, it seemed like the unit finally gelled together. Brady was sacked 24 times, which is much better than in recent years. Compared to 2007, it’s very even, as Brady was sacked 21 times that season.
This offensive line is led by Tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon, who are often ranked as two of the top offensive lineman in the league. With another year of experience, these pass-protectors and run-blockers are poised for an even better season, and look to keep Brady up-right and on his feet headed into the 2017 season.
The Patriots pass-rush and run-stopping crew is very intimidating, as it is led by rising star Trey Flowers at RE. Their D-Line is composed of Flowers, Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch at DT, and former Carolina Panthers LE Kony Ealy.
Back in 2007, the defensive line was one of their biggest strengths, as it was led by talents such as Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour. This defensive line has the capability to be even better than the unit in 2007, especially if they can clog up the run lanes and get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Led by defensive captain Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots LB core is considered one of the very best in the game. With outside linebackers Rob Ninkovich and Shea McClellin, they should provide solid pass coverage and above-average pass-rushing ability. With backup MLB’s Kyle Van Noy and second-year man Elandon Roberts as well, the Patriots have a lot of depth in that area.
Compared to the 2007, it’s difficult to live up to legends like Tedy Bruschi and company’s success. This current core has the pure potential to be great this year, and with another year of playing with one another, the sky is the limit for this squad.
These coverage specialists in the New England secondary are not to be played with. Led by CB’s Stephon Gilmore and Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler, this current roster is loaded with lock-down corners and safeties. On top of the aforementioned names, veteran FS Devin McCourty also leads the safety crew, along with Patrick Chung to his side. Can they compare to 2007 CB’s and safeties such as Asante Samuel and Rodney Harrison? If this secondary plays as well as the ones in 2007 did, you can expect a real conversation to take place in the distant future.
Time can only tell if this team will be better than the 16-0 team from a decade ago. The New England Patriots are seemingly the early favorites to win the upcoming Super Bowl. This season could deliver some great football from this roster, as the Patriots are set to play the Kansas City Chiefs in their home opener at Gillette Stadium for the revealing of their fifth Super Bowl banner.