by Frank Barone
The Patriots start the 2005 season with more questions than at any other time under the Belichick regime. One of these questions are coaching concerns and some are personnel, but are any of these concerns really enough to to stop the Patriots from getting back to the Super Bowl this season?
The most obvious question facing the Patriots team this year is how will they perform without their offensive and defensive coordinators from last season?
The second question you have to ask, is what is going to happen with linebacker Tedy Bruschi?
The Patriots go into the 2005 season with having to replace their offensive and defensive coordinators from last season. I can’t remember the last time any team, much less a Super Bowl team has had to replace both coordinators in the same off-season. To me the real question is which coordinator is going to be missed the most. I’m going to say the former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who left the Patriots to become the head coach at Notre Dame. The reason I think the Patriots will miss Weis the most, to me he was the key that has helped make Tom Brady into the player he is today. Also in seeing so many Patriot games over the last couple of years he is one of of the best I have seen at making in-game adjustments–whether at half time or in the course of a game .
At defensive coordinator the Patriots have to replace Romeo Crennel, who left to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Belichick decided to replace Crennel with Eric Mangini, who has been with the team going into his sixth season.
With Belichickâ€™s defensive knowledge and hands-on approach to the defense I can not really see the defense taking too much of a step back without Crennel.
The next obstacle for the Patriots is the health of their star linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Bruschi suffered a mild stroke in the off-season, and has been ruled out for this season. The Patriots are losing not only a Pro-Bowl player, but the heart of their team as well. How will they replace all that?
It looks like Chad Brown, who was signed as a free agent from Seattle, is to be his replacement. It’s obvious Brown is not going to be as productive as Bruschi, but that is when the rest of the Patriots defense will have to step up and pick up the slack.
There has been no better team in the NFL at mixing and matching players like the Patriots. No team in the league has shown the the ability to maximize a roster’s talent like the Patriots over the last 4 years. What other team could play a wide receiver in the secondary and get away with it like the Patriots have done with Troy Brown.
Is the so called Patriots dynasty coming to an end? My own personal belief is that the Pats will be a top-flight club again this year, but the impact of Weis not being there in crucial situations and finding solutions when things are not working on offense for Brady and company will be their downfall. Now it is up to Herm and the Jets to be the team to jump at that opportunity that I think will exist to dethrone the Pats.