After the New England Patriots embarrassing post-season loss to the Denver Broncos, this off-season was about regaining offensive power, replenishing the defense, and filling the holes that undoubtedly contributed to their Eastern Conference exit.
Six-months later, the Patriots have a Quarterback who may be the future of the franchise, a slew of defensive players, and a TE in Rob Gronkowski, who last season suffered a torn ACL, but is on pace to play most, if not all of the 2014-2015 season.
The pieces of this puzzle have been perfectly placed, putting the Patriots in position to make a deep run this season, which may only end as they hoist their fourth Lombardi Trophy since 2001.
This time last year the Patriots were dealing with the fallout of Aaron Hernandez—undoubtedly a distraction for fans, players, and coaching staff alike. Today, less than a week from the beginning of training camp, the Hernandez saga is still on-going, but the media and the team have moved forward, able to focus on what they hope will be a winning future.
Last season, the Patriots fell short in almost all defensive categories. Only in Sacks and Receiving Defense were they able to crack the Top-20 in the league, leaving much room for improvement in the off-season. The result was a complete defensive overhaul that is now setting the team up to be one of the best defenses in the league.
With the addition of 5-time Pro-Bowler Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and the return of Vince Wilfork, who was sidelined for the majority of last season due to an Achilles injury, the defense is restocked and reloaded, prepared to face-off against the league’s best.
The first real test New England will face won’t be until Week 9 when the Broncos pay a visit to Foxboro in a rematch from last season’s Eastern Conference Championship. After this, just the Colts and Packers pose a legitimate threat. It is entirely possible that the Patriots won’t see their first loss of the season until November, and if I know New England fans, they love nothing better than a good win streak.
So why will the Patriots win the Super Bowl in February? In addition to having one of the easiest schedules, the Patriots have made nearly every necessary adjustment to improve team moral, beginning with the signing of Revis. It also doesn’t hurt that your QB is Tom Brady.
The Patriots are notorious for doing things right, and although mistakes have been made in the past there is plenty of reason to believe that the 2014-2015 team with be a force to be reckoned with.
On August 7th, New England will face the Washington Redskins in their first pre-season game. This will be our first glimpse at this new-look squad, and although pre-season is generally unimportant it will give fans an idea at the success this team could have down the road.
With Tom Brady heading toward the end of his career and Bill Belichick possibly retiring alongside his star student, this may be one of the last times fans will be able to see this Hall of Fame pair reach such great heights.