2010 New England Patriots Season Preview

Few teams have had as a successful decade in the history of the NFL as did the New England Patriots since 2000. In total, they won three Lombardy Trophies, and formed the closest thing to a dynasty in the NFL that has been seen in recent memory. However, that is beginning to fade with the lack of post-season success over the course of the last five seasons and the 2010 New England Patriots Preview suggests that they need a deep run in the playoffs soon.

New England missed the playoffs all together in 2008, after quarterback Tom Brady went down in the season opener with an ACL tear. Still, under back-up Matt Cassel, the Patriots became the first-ever team to win 11 games and miss the post-season. Last year, the Brady came back to win the AFC East division in 2009 with a 10-6 record. However, that achievement was short-lived after an embarrassing blowout defeat in the opening round of the playoffs at the hands of the Baltimore Raven 33-14. That loss has stuck with the Patriots all off-season, and has been a driving force behind the motivation heading into the 2010 NFL Season.

The offense did not suffer any hitch with the absence of Brady during the 2008 season. The Patriots ranked first in the AFC in total offense and third in the NFL, averaging 397.3 yards per game in 2009. Brady threw for another 4,000-yard season, tabbing a total of 4,398 yards and 28 touchdowns. His performances put New England third in the league in pass yards per game.

New England ranked in the top-10 in every major offensive category in the AFC. They had no problem scoring either, racking up 26.7 points per game, which put them sixth in the NFL.

Defensively, the Patriots ranked 11th in the NFL in total defense and sixth in the AFC. They were well balanced against the run and the pass, ranking 12th and 13th respectively in the NFL. Surrendering only 17.8 points per game put them in the top-five.

When looking at the statistics, New England put together quite the year, but failed to achieve their ultimate goal and won only 10 games for one primary reason. They could not win on the road. At home, New England was a perfect 8-0. On the road, the were a woeful 2-6.

The Patriots have no doubt paid attention to their poor performances on the road, and will look to improve upon that, while still maintaining their dominance at home. The 2010 New England Patriots Season Preview suggests they have the tool in place to do that.2010 New England Patriots Coaching Staff & Changes The "Hoodie" is back and ready for another season after a terrible loss to the Ravens in the opening round of the playoffs. Still, the Patriot-faithful have confidence in head coach Bill Bellichick. The future hall-of-fame coach has brought the area three Super Bowl Championships. However, in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, it has been a few years since the Patriots have been back to the promise land. Bellichick will have to figure out what moves to make for that to happen.

Bellichick is entering his 11th season as the head coach of the Patriots, and has a record of 126-52 and a remarkable 14-4 post-season record. The Patriots brought only one new coach on board in 2010, in defensive assistant Corwin Brown, who has four years experience in the NFL.2010 New England Patriots Key Free Agency Acquisitions & LossesAcquistions
TE - Alge Crumpler from Tennessee Titans
WR - Torry Holt from Jacksonville Jaguars

TE - Benjamin Watson to Cleveland Browns
LB - Adalius Thomas to Free Agency
DE - Jarvis Green to Denver Broncos2010 New England Patriots NFL DraftRound 1: Pick 27 - CB, Devin McCourtey (Rutgers)
Round 2: Pick 42 - TE, Rob Gronkowski (Arizona)
Round 2: Pick 53 - DE, Jermaine Cunningham (Florida)
Round 2: Pick 62 - LB, Brandon Spikes (Florida)
Round 3: Pick 90 - WR, Taylor Price (Ohio)
Round 4: Pick 113 - TE, Aaron Hernandez (Florida)
Round 5: Pick 150 - P, Zoltan Mesko (Michigan)
Round 6: Pick 206 - OL, Ted Larsen (North Carolina State)
Round 7: Pick 208 - OL, Thomas Welch (Vanderbilt)
Round 7: Pick 247 - DE, Brandon Deaderick (Alabama)
Round 7: Pick 248 - DT, Kade Weston (Georgia)
Round 7: Pick 250 - QB, Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State)
2010 New England Patriots QuarterbacksTom Brady is no doubt going to be giving a speech at the footstep of Canton one day, but not this year. Entering 2010, Brady is the unquestioned leader of the team. In 2009, Brady experienced something he had never had to in his career. He came off a season-ending ACL tear in 2008 which kept him out of action for a full year. Still, Brady threw for over 4,300 yards and tossed 28 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions. He completed over 65 percent of his passes and that production should follow him into 2010.

Brady will need to stay healthy is the Patriots are to have success in 2010, as his back ups Brian Hoyer and rookie Zac Robinson have no experience.

Projected 2010 New England Patriots Quarterback Depth Chart
QB - Tom Brady
QB - Brian Hoyer
QB - Zac Robinson2010 New England Patriots Running BacksLaurence Maroney was a first-round selection in 20006, but has failed to reach the level of production the Patriots had hoped for at this stage in his career. Combining that with his habit of losing the ball on the turf, and Maroney has never reached the 1,000-yard threshold. He did lead the team in rushing last season, but gained only 757 yards. He reached the end zone nine times.

Behind Maroney is Fred Taylor, Sammie Morris and Kevin Faulk, all who are at least 33 years old. While the Patriots have depth at the position, their could be issues with durability throughout the course of the 2010 season.

Projected 2010 New England Patriots Running Back Depth Chart
RB - Laurence Maroney
RB - Sammy Morris
RB - Fred Taylor
RB - Kevin Faulk
RB - BenJarvus Green-Ellis
2010 New England Patriots Wide ReceiversThe Patriots will be very hurt by the loss of Wes Welker, who tore his ACL in the final game of the 2009 Regular season. It is uncertain just how much of the 2010 New Engalnd Patriots Season the slot receiver will miss, but one thing is for sure, Brady will miss him. Welker caught 123 passes for 1,346 yards in 2009 before his injury in Week 17. He is Brady's go-to receiver and his absence will be noticeable. Welker fit in perfect with the other receiver on the field, who all present a different skill-set. Randy Moss will return and is the big-play guy of the corps, hauling in 13 touchdown receptions in 2009.

New England signed veteran wide receiver Torry Holt from the Jaguars and he should fit in nicely. He is a Moss-type receiver, though he is getting a bit older and does not possess the big-play that he did in his prime as one of the NFL's best receiver. The Patriots also lost Benjamin Watson to the Browns, but signed Alge Crumpler to replace him. Crumpler is one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, while rookie Aaron Hernandez out of Florida is a good pass catcher.

Projected 2010 New England Patriots Wide Receiver Depth Chart
WR - Randy Moss
WR - Wes Welker
WR - Julian Edelman
WR - Torry Holt

Projected 2010 New England Patriots Tight End Depth Chart
TE - Alge Crumpler
TE - Rob Gronkowski2010 New England Patriots Offensive LineThe offensive line should be a solid unit for the 2010 New England Patriots led by left guard Logan Mankins. At left tackle will be Matt Light who has made two-trips to the Pro Bowl. The offensive line was responsible for the ninth-ranked rushing attack in the AFC, and top total offense. Additionally, they had the tall-task of protecting Brady coming off injury. The corps allowed just 16 sacks throughout the entire season, keeping Brady's jersey clean.

Projected 2010 New England Patriots Starting Offensive Line
LT - Matt Light
LG - Logan Mankins
C - Dan Koppen
RG - Stephen Neil
RT - Sebastian Vollmer2010 New England Patriots Defensive LineVince Wilfork will be around for New England and that is good news for Patriots fans. It is good for two main reasons. First, Wilfork has been one of the best interior lineman against the run and a great pass rusher as well. His huge frame takes up a lot of room. Second, the Patriots are going to a base 3-4 defense and Wilfork's frame will be needed. Rookie first round pick Ty Warren will line up on the end. The other end position will be Mike Wright as the defensive lineman will be active for the Patriots.

Projected 2010 New England Patriots Starting Defensive Line
DE - Ty Warren
NT - Vince Wilfork
DE - Mike Wright2010 New England Patriots LinebackersJerod Mayo led the team in tackles in 2009 and will occupy the interior position of this unit. The Patriots lacked depth at this position and chose to go with a pair of Florida Gator linebackers int the 2010 NFL Draft. Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham will add depth to the unit coming out as rookies. Cunningham was a defensive end in college for the Gators, but New England looks to shift him to linebacker. New England linebackers will be active on the field in 2010 in both stopping the run and protecting against the pass.

Projected 2010 New England Patriots Starting Linebackers
OLB - Tully Banta-Cain
ILB - Jerod Mayo
ILB - Tyrone McKenzie
OLB - Gary Guyton 2010 New England Patriots SecondaryThe Patriots struggled against the pass in 2009. So much so that Bellichick did not trust his team to stop Peyton Manning and the Colts offense in a regular season game from scoring. As such, instead of punting they went for it on fourth down and did not convert. Coincidentally, Manning took the ball and scored easily, winning the game.

The 2010 New England Patriots secondary should be improved, with the addition of Davin McCourtey, a rookie out of Rutgers. The Patriots also look for improvement from Brandon Merriweather, who has been beat on several occasions. The Patriots ranked 12th in the league in passing, surrendering 210 yards per game.

Projected 2010 New England Patriots Starting Seconday
CB - Darius Butler
CB - Leigh Bodden
SS - Brandon Merriwweather
FS - James Sanders

2010 New England Patriots Preview