I have been a Patriots fan my entire life. I have seen many heartbreaking losses and although yesterdays loss was a tough pill to swallow, it certainly was not as bad as they have been in the past. I actually think this game was a wakeup call and shows that the organization needs to get their act together and the offseason is a great place to start.
I am a huge believer in the Patriot way and after four Super Bowl victories, six Super Bowl appearances and five straight AFC championship appearances, it clearly works. I love the fact that Bill is able to find these nobodies and plug them in and they end up playing great.
HOWEVER, if you look at what happened in the offseason of 2014, the Patriots were in a very similar situation that they are in today. We had just lost the 2013 AFC championship to the Broncos at Mile High and played terrible in that game as well. The receiving corps was a disaster and so was the secondary.
In that offseason however, we did something very uncharacteristic of the Patriot way. We actually went out and signed legit, big-name free agents. Darelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Brandon Lafell were all acquired in March of 2014. The result was a Super Bowl victory the following season. Some fans may disagree with me, but this is not rocket science.
The core of Brady, Gronk and Edelman will get you to the AFC Championship every year. That is a given, but if you want to win the Super Bowl, you are going to need another great offseason like two years ago and pay up for some new guys.
Clearly the offensive line is the first place that this team needs improvements. It is a total disaster and I hate to be the one to say it, but if you still had Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly, you would have seen a very different outcome from yesterday.
I think the organization should know better, especially after the 2007 loss to the Giants, that if you can get pressure on Brady and make him uncomfortable throughout the whole game, then the offense can't do anything. To me the O-line is not a place where this team can EVER afford to be thin. To me, you always have to account for injuries and have a solid back-up plan because in football injuries are inevitable. We absolutely need to add, at a minimum, one guy to the o-line no matter what the cost is.
The next thing I think you have to take a look at is the cornerback position. Logan Ryan had a terrific game and despite being impressive all season, Malcolm Butler was getting burned by Emmanuel Sanders at every turn. I think depth is a very important thing because it gives you more flexibility. If we had a third solid corner that would've matched up better with Sanders then you could've plugged them in and probably would not have been exploited the way Butler was.
I know not everyone is sold on this, but I think we need to make a run at a marquee wide receiver this offseason, as well. I'm not sure who that might be, but since Lafell probably will not be back, this is a great opportunity to replace him with someone much better. Calvin Johnson's name has come up a lot lately and although he is rumored to want to retire, I doubt at his age that he would want to do that. Having a deep threat for the first time since Randy Moss would make this team dangerous. Although the argument could be made he ultimately didn't work out, lets not forget that the 2007 Patriots offense was probably the most explosive in football history.
Finally, again some don't think this is necessary, but you can never be too careful. I think adding another running back should be a priority for this team. Even though Dion Lewis is under contract for next season, adding Marshawn Lynch or a back like him would do wonders for this team. Dion Lewis is a phenomenal player and complements, Blount's (who's an impending free agent) game really well, but has an injury history. Although I am optimistic he will not go down for a whole season like last year, it is likely that he could miss a few games and having a guy like Lynch around would certainly give us flexibility. All in all, if the Patriots improve even two of these areas and are not hit with half as many injuries, they will be right back in the Super Bowl.
By Spencer Roush