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New England Patriots: Five Reasons Why They Will Not Repeat In 2017

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While they stand on top of the proverbial NFL mountain once again for the fifth time overall and second time in three seasons, the New England Patriots winning back-to-back Super Bowls is far from a sure thing.

Despite seemingly getting better in the off-season in re-signing linebacker Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Bolden and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, trading for former New Orleans Saints speedster Brandin Cooks, DL Kony Ealy and tight end Dwayne Allen and signing former Bills running back Mike Gillislee and linebacker David Harris, New England lost veteran offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer and NFL rushing touchdown champion LeGarrette Blount.

While some may think that the loss of Vollmer is not a big issue, consider how well New England protects Brady in the pocket. In addition to the loss of Vollmer, the loss of Garrett, especially in short-yardage and goal line situations could be bigger than one realizes.

Yes, all of the moves mentioned above justifiably put the Patriots in another stratosphere among all NFL teams, but they are vulnerable.

The defending champions undoubtedly have one of the toughest schedules in recent memory in facing six playoff teams with a soon-to-be 40-year-old quarterback in Tom Brady, a highly motivated and upgraded league set on stopping them from raising their sixth Super Bowl banner and a tough stretch in November and December in which five of their last eight games are on the road, and the Pats bringing Title No.6 back to One Patriot Place may not be such an easy task.

Below are my five reasons why the Patriots will not repeat in 2017.

Tom Brady Getting Close to “The Cliff”: 40. That number is equal to my age, and also the age of a former Michigan-bred five-time Super Bowl winner in Tom Brady. To paraphrase ESPN’s Max Kellerman of “First Take’, but Brady is close—if not already on the edge of the proverbial cliff, thanks to age and defenses finally beginning to figure the Pats out.

With young guns such as Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garrapollo waiting in the wings if he has a bad game or suffers a n injury. Father Time is undefeated, no matter how many rings you have.

Loss of RB Legarrette Blount Will Hurt in Short-Yardage: Perhaps the most underrated biggest loss for the offensive juggernaut that is the Patriots offense, is that of the NFL’s leading touchdown leader in Blount. Blount, who had 18 touchdowns on the ground, kept defenses honest in giving new England a viable threat.

While the fore mentioned Gillisee and Bolden will now work in a timeshare, neither one will be able to replace the physical hard-running element that Blount brought for New England.

Health of TE Rob Gronkowski: The proverbial fun-loving, party-animal 260-pound gorilla in the Pats locker room is Rob Gronkowski and his inability to stay healthy.

When on the field, Gronkowski makes the Pats trademark two-tight end offense virtually unstoppable in the middle of the field on seam routes, thanks to his strength, size, power and leaping and catching ability. A matchup nightmare at 6’6 and 260 pounds, Gronk cannot be guarded by a linebacker, safety or cornerback in the open field.

Sadly, thanks to a unfortunately slew of injuries to his MCL/ACL, hamstring, concussion, ankle, back, knee, chest and forearm, have caused him to miss 24 games in his seven NFL seasons. Sadly, if he suffers another injury, New England becomes more vulnerable, as he is a vital bog in their tight-end heavy offense.

Loss Of Jamie Collins At LB: Another under-the-radar loss for the Super Bowl champions is that of current Cleveland Browns linebacker Jamie Collins. Despite re-signing the forementioned Hightower to a new contract extension and signing David Harris from the rival New York Jets, Collins ability to cover inside and outside will be missed by New England.

Brutal Post-Bye Schedule In Nov and Dec: To burrow from William Shakespeare, but uneasy lies the head, that wears a crown. In the case of the New England Patriots, this is the one drawback of being defending champs.

With an opening schedule that features AFC West champion Kansas City on Banner Night, and the AFC South champion Houston Texans on Week 3, the pats get no breaks from the schedule makers, and boy is their back end loaded. With five of their last eight games away from Foxboro following their Week 8 home game vs. the visiting Los Angeles Chargers—still weird to actually type that—the Pats face the Denver Broncos—and perhaps their toughest AFC rival—out in the East Bay vs. the Oakland—nee Las Vegas—Raiders in Weeks 10 and 11 before a brutal three game road stretch vs. the always-tough Buffalo Bills.

New England will also face the pesky and always-stout Miami Dolphins and their longtime playoff foil in the Pittsburgh Steelers in what will be a loud and raucous Heinz Field in weeks 13,14 and 15, with one home game vs. the Bills squeezed in between during Week 12.

If the Patriots come out of this meat grinder of a gauntlet at or above .500, look for them to bring home that sixth Lombardi with utter ease.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

4 thoughts on “New England Patriots: Five Reasons Why They Will Not Repeat In 2017

  1. If you are going to write and article get your facts right. Brady is going to be 40 not 41, Volmer did not play at all last year, Collins was traded in the first half of the year and they played better without him.

    1. Marc, Thank you for the correction on Brady’s age. In reference to Vollmer, please re-read about the reason, as the Pat’s OL is vital in their key to repeating. Re: Collins, that is your opinion, and I’ll leave it at that. Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

  2. Do you even follow this team? Haha

    NE has a better RB corps than they had last year. They have Burkhead and Gilislee who both are more than capable of replacing Blount. I loved Blount but for every big play he had he also had twenty 2-yard runs. Burkhead and Gilislee have wayyy more upside.

    Jamie Collins was a free lancer. One of the best athletes on the field but ultimately made some poor decisions when freelancing. New England played better without him once they figured out how to use Roberts, McClellan, and Van Noy. Now they have veteran in David Harris and a rookie with a lot of potential in Harvey Langi.

    Gronkowski does have an injury history and having him on the field is scary as hell for opposing defenses, but Belichick and Mcdaniels know this and hauoltbuilt built a roster that can handle the loss, should it happen again. This team didn’t miss a beat last year, all the way to a Super Bowl win. Now, they have an even better, deeper WR corps.

    No, it’s no lock that NE will repeat, but they’re far better off in 2017 than they were in 2016 (at least on paper).

    1. Zoocore,

      I follow football as a whole, but for the record, I’m a Browns fan. To answer your questions, let me first preface this by saying that I actually like and respect NE, and am not a hater at all.

      Re: Blount, maybe it’s becuase I’m from AFC North country, but you need a strong, big and physical back to run they the trenches when it gets cold. Personally they are two completely different backs so comparing Blount to Burkhead/Gillislee is invalid.

      Collins was a bit of a freelancer and I can see your point considering that he did the same here in Cleveland. Harris is a good pickup and y’all re-signing DH was smart. My point is that because of NE’s defense, he was the “joker” thus able to freelance as you stated.

      Re Gronkowski, glad to see that we are on the same page although for different reasons, in terms of points per game and total yards, NE is a slightly different team w/o Gronk, which is why they signed Bennett last year and traded for Allen this year to both complement and serve as insurance, should Gronkowski go down again.

      As I said above, I like the Pats and am not knocking them at all. Personally I think it’s ALMOST a virtual lock that they repeat this year, barring unjustly and hienthey make it thru Nov/Dec as I stated. And as a long suffering Browns fan that had to hear it from all the loud and obnoxious Steeler fans during my time living in Pittsburgh, I hope to God y’all smoke them at Heinz and win your sixth, just to really stick it to them.

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