It is official. The contract is signed and the New England Patriots have their newest defensive weapon ready to go, and plan to unleash him on each opposing team’s best wide receiver. What was originally thought to be an uncharacteristic move for the defending AFC East division winners has turned into the first of many. The New England Patriots have been in a frenzy of late, signing big name after big name and starting to look like a dream team. Their biggest move was acquiring all-pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, who said he joined the New England Patriots because he thought it was where he had the best chance to win.
Signing the 28-year-old cornerback was the New England Patriots reaction to losing their number one cornerback last year, Aquib Talib. Darrelle Revis is an upgrade at that position as he’s younger, faster, more consistent and considered an overall better player. New England also signed Brandon Browner, another top cornerback who was a free agent. There was much talk about what position Brandon Browner would play, but as it stands, he will be staying at cornerback and not moving to safety. This gives the New England Patriots one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. Browner will miss the first four games of the season because of a suspension, and has a history of being injury prone, but his presence on the field will do nothing but help.
Many wondered when Revis joined the New England Patriots if it was a direct slight at his old team, the New York Jets. He was traded away by the team that drafted him because they weren’t willing to pay his salary demands. At his press conference, the all-pro cornerback made it clear that his choice was not meant as a slight to any team. Revis picked the New England Patriots because he wanted to win and because he was given the contract he feels he deserves. His contract is for $32 million over two years, which breaks down to an average of $16 million per year, the highest for any cornerback in the league, and a sticking point for the all-pro.
Last year the New England Patriots defense was 18th in the NFL allowing 239 passing yards per game, but 30th in rushing defense, allowing 134.1 rushing yards per game. Though the additions will absolutely help the defense, it is strange that they aren’t focusing more on their defensive line. Their nose tackle, Vince Wilfork, a mainstay on the defensive line, had his season cut short last year due to injury. That could have been part of the reason they gave up so many rushing yards. But Wilfork has expressed a desire to be released and without him the New England Patriots are sure to face similar difficulties stopping the run.
Their new cornerback tandem will be busy every week as a lot of the teams the New England Patriots face like to throw the ball. They will play (amongst others) the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers, all of which have good to great passing games. They will face the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins twice, both of which are expected to have improved passing games as well. But all those teams also have good, if not stellar, run games. Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings are on the schedule for the New England Patriots too.
Last year, Tom Brady and company had the tenth best pass attack in the league, 255.4 yards per game, but it was a down year. On offense, they’ve already re-signed Julian Edleman, hope to have a healthy Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski, signed free agent Brandon LaFell, and expect another step to be taken for their young wide out Aaron Dobson. They were also ninth in the league last year in rushing, averaging 129.1 yards per game. With the secondary shored up, the offense looking as prolific as the Denver Broncos of last year, there’s only one glaring area for them to address in the draft, defensive line. Everyone knows how adept they are in the draft too. Tom Brady was the 199 overall pick in 2000. It’s looking like another team built to win, which means Darrelle Revis choose wisely when he joined the New England Patriots.
Commentary by Chris Dragicevich