As it stands now, there are 90 men on the Pats roster; such will not be the case in a mere few weeks.
Tough truths must be faced. Here are five.
Chad Ochocinco has to go
Don’t get me wrong. I like Ocho. I think the turnaround he tried to make with the Patriots was amazing and I admire and respect him for shelving his persona and making a genuine effort to assimilate. But this is simply a case of round peg, square hole. He doesn’t fit in New England. Whether it’s because the offensive system is too complicated or because he simply doesn’t have the skill set required to be a contributor, it’s just not working. And when that happens in a relationship, it’s preferable to cut your losses and allow both parties to move on to bigger and hopefully better things. Such is the case here. Time to let go.
Nate Solder is not ready to start at left tackle
Although the Pats may not have much choice on the matter, Solder’s execution is not up to par yet. This will only be his second year in the league and while he was a worthy first round choice, unless he makes great leaps and bounds between now and September, Tom Brady better get use to releasing the ball quick or making friends with the dirt. If you’ll recall, Solder was in at right tackle during the Super Bowl in February and was replaced with a still-recovering Sebastian Vollmer. Left tackle is an even more critical position. Solder has to develop his footwork and reliability on the block if he intends to replace Matt Light at Brady’s blindside.
Jermaine Cunningham is a bust
Yeah, I said it. As a rookie, he was decent, recording one sack and thirty four tackles. But as a sophomore, he slumped. What is there to suggest he’ll be any better in his third year? The stunning 2011 stat line that saw him make ONE singular tackle? The Patriots need defensive playmakers. They don’t have time to babysit, and Cunningham has the potential to yet again be a waste of a roster spot. OTA reports suggest he’s been an active participant on the defense and that’s great. Cunningham’s problem has never been effort; it’s when he has to battle other players that the issues crop up. It’s rare to see a player make an extremely dramatic turnaround after back-to-back sub-par seasons. Time will tell if Cunningham is the exception or the rule.
Julian Edelman belongs on defense
This may not qualify as “rough,” but it is a truth. Edelman was arguably the best defensive back the Patriots had during the second half of last season. Why not build on that and make him even better for this season? He was consistent while his peers were sporadic; he was a leader even with little experience. That’s pretty high praise for a guy who started as a quarterback, transitioned to wide receiver AND is the best punt returner on the roster. The Pats already have seven other guys vying for wide receiver spots; Edelman shouldn’t be in that group, at least until the team is confident they have players who can successfully play DB this season. It would be a shame for Edelman to miss out on defensive meetings now if that’s where he’s going to end up anyway.
The Super Bowl will affect the Patriots in 2012
They can deny it all they want. They can say it’s behind them. But that’s false. It’s behind them, but one way or another, that loss will shape this season. How can it not? Last season, the Pats didn’t belong anywhere near the Super Bowl. The defense was abysmal, the offense was hit or miss and they were a little short on playmakers. The fact they made it there and that they could have won with just a few plays going their way has to still haunt them. It will motivate the team to greatness this season, or it will weigh them down when they experience failure. There’s no way to tell yet which way that pendulum will swing, but suffice it to say, no team can lose a Super Bowl and have it not have an impact on what comes next. It’s like getting divorced and claiming the experience won’t matter in your next relationship. False.