Now that the glory of the 2017 NFL season is upon us and the anticipation of training camp behind us, we can take stock of the roster as it heads into the early part of the year. The situation is very fluid and much of the bottom of the roster will be churned in an effort to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. The offense had quite a few surprises. How does it look for this season? How is it shaping up for the next two to three years? Read on and find out.
Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo
The surprise trade of Jacoby Brissett really sent shock waves throughout the fans. It answered one question; are we carrying three quarterbacks this year? And raised many others. Is Jimmy G tagged or extended after this year? Is it Tom Brady’s last year? Will TB12 be extended too? Unfortunatethird we will most likely have to wait for the playoff run to end before we get our answers. But I can tell you this; getting an asset that you can play for even 25% of the snaps is better than a 3rd QB who you hope to never have to see throw the ball. And the Patriots figure to sign a guy to the practice squad once some of the injuries at other positions clear up.
Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis, Brandon Bolden (ST), DJ Foster (PS)
After all the drama of the running back competition, it looks surprising similar to the off season roster. Even Bolden made it back after a couple of days unemployment. This could be the most talented group of ball carriers that Tom Brady has ever shared the backfield with. Ground and pound the ball, check. Pass protectors, check. Dynamic pass catchers, check. The only downside to this unit is that two of them are UFA and even Gillislee is expendable if he doesn’t perform to expectations. That means that it could be facing a large amount of turnover in the off season again.
Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks, Phillip Dorsett, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater (ST), Demarcus Ayers (PS), Cody Hollister (PS)
Disaster struck when Julian Edelman went down in the preseason with a torn ACL. This could’ve been a record-setting unit, but without Elelman wel’l have to settle for merely scary. Instead, the bombshell of trade that sent Jacoby Brissett to the Colts for their speedy wideout Phillip Dorsett brought back those thoughts. It will take some time for him to gel and for it to transition from a dink and dunk with a gritty Edelman getting those third to bombs away, chunk grabbing TD machine, wiith Cooks, Hogan and Dorsett. Mitchell and Amendola are great depth receivers but both are injury-prone and should not be counted on extensively. Even with Edelman’s and Mitchell’s injury worse the Pats have a very deep and scary unit this season.
Dwayne Allen, Rob Gronkowski, Jacob Hollister
And the last man standing in the battle royale for the 3rd tight end is – Jacob Hollister. Showing up for big stretches in all the preseason games and practices, the undrafted rookie out of Wyoming secured his spot on the roster. A naturally fluid route running and great hands won him his job and as a better blocker will have him stick. And when you consider he gets to learn behind one of the young greats at that position in Rob Gronkowski, his future looks bright. Dwayne Allen as the backup on an offense that likes its two tight end sets appears extremely fortuitous.
David Andrews, Joe Thuney, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Cameron Fleming, Shaq Mason, LaAdrian Waddle, Nate Solder, Willie Beavers (PS), James Ferentz (PS), Ted Karras (PS)
If the shockwaves from the Brissett/Dorsett trade registered an 8.0, then the surprise cut of Ted Karras as the backup interior lineman in favor of Cole Croston was a mere 3.0. But have no fear Karras fans (@stevenviner1). He made it back on the practice squad. Other than that,- this is the unit that completed the comeback for the Super Bowl. Everyone is back and getting healthy. With another year under offensive line maven Dante Scarnecchia we should really see some wire-to-wire improvements. Next year will provide some uncertainty as Fleming, Waddle and Solder are all free agents after the season. Rookie Tony Garcia will spend the season on the Non-Football Injury list. Hopefully he’ll compete next year for a depth spot.
All in all a very powerful unit to begin the season with. They’ve already weathered several injuries and upheavals and there will undoubtedly be more. As long as Tom Brady is back there healthy and slinging the football the team will be competitive and a threat to win every game. If the injury fairy has completed its visit this season and the newcomers and young guys all step up, they have the potential to break some records this season as they begin their quest for the sixth ring.
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