Patriots are not dead. Next pre-season, the AFC superbowl favorites will be either Denver or New England.
Here is what NE is going to do:
1. Let Welker walk. The Patriots don't keep their stars, outside of Brady and Wilfork.
2. Find a viable deep threat. They want what they had in Moss in 2007 - someone who can stretch defenses and open up the middle.
3. install as their base offensive formation a 3 TE set. This would be absolutely revolutionary - no one passes consistently out of a 13 formation, but that's what NE will do. Hernandez (62-250) gives them the versatility to do this, as he is stout enough to play FB if they want to load up in the back-field, and spry enough to line up as a WR. The TE's would be Gronkowski (6-6, 265) and Ballard (6-6, 256).
I don't see any way a conventional defense wouldn't have trouble with a line-up like that if the WR was a halfway reliable speedster. There will be a CB on one of their TE's, and with 2 TE's being 6-6, they will have a pretty severe height advantage and certainly a size advantage. The other two TE's will have to deal with LB's, Hernandez and Gronk are both mismatches for most LB's there as well. As much as their 2 TE set + welker stretches a defense, a 3TE set would be much worse and would improve their running game.
Last edited by mwill07; 01-23-2013 at 07:56 AM..