Friday, June 21, 2013
This has certainly been a wild offseason for the Patriots but nothing in comparison to the tumulus couple of days for Patriots star tight end- 23 year old Aaron Hernandez. Reports have been piling up what seems to be every minute and there have been conflicting reports and speculation running ramped across the internet. I choose to take the high road and look at some of the facts here and not get wrapped up in the media windstorm.
First of all this is an ongoing investigation and what people need to realize is that all of these “reports” are not clear cut facts. Let’s stick to the facts here. This is what we know to this point in this developing story; Aaron Hernandez is innocent until proven guilty and currently as I type this- a free man. Aaron has not been charged with anything yet despite conflicting media reports. The only thing that is certain is that 27 year old Semi Pro football player-Odin Lloyd has been killed. Aaron Hernandez is being currently investigated to have a connection with the death of Odin Lloyd. We know that the New England Patriots are keeping quiet and holding out comment as is the NFL. That is pretty much all we know at this point. Everything else reported is pure speculation.
I think in the interest of fairness, everyone hold out judgment about Hernandez until all of the facts come out instead of bashing a person for something they may or may not have even done. This matter is being taken very seriously and while I may sound like I am defending Hernandez- I am not. I like every Patriots fan are obviously hoping for the best for the guy however let’s remember he is implicated with an ongoing murder investigation. Quite frankly this is much bigger than Aaron Hernandez the tight end, bigger than the New England Patriots franchise and bigger than the National Football League. This is about justice and putting the pieces of this intricate puzzle together to find out how Mr. Odin L. Lloyd was killed. The media can try to spin it any way they want to try to but what everyone needs to remember is that a man’s life has been selfishly taken and Massachusetts State Police are in the midst of an ongoing investigation which just so happens to include a high profile athlete such as Aaron Hernandez.
When Tom Brady steps into a noisy stadium on fall Sunday afternoon- he keeps his composure and stays focused on the obstacles ahead of him. We need to do the same thing in this case-Avoid the noise and try to stick to what the facts are, and the fact is a man has been brutally murdered and we don’t know who, how, or why. I am not worried about what the Patriots starting lineup is going to be come September, I am more concerned about how and why this truly unfortunate tragedy has occurred and that justice will prevail through the end of this mess.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Leading up to free agency which begins March 12th we will be taking a look at some of the Patriots own free agents and briefly discuss whether they may be back with the team or not. Today we will be taking a look at impending Pats free agent Danny Woodhead.
Ever since Kevin Faulk’s departure Danny Woodhead has stepped up to the plate and been the Patriots safety valve at the running back position. You may remember when the Patriots traded Lawrence Maroney they were able to scoop up Danny Woodhead as a free agent who was released by the Jets. Kevin Faulk was injured and Danny stepped up to the plate and showed to be a stingy playmaker in the backfield and added a different dimension to the Patriots ground attack. Well two years later and Woodhead went from being the guy to being a reliable third down back option for the Pats. It seems like whenever the Patriots are in a crucial situation the Patriots have shown trust in Wooshead by putting him out there over other Patriots backs. The Patriots backfield has made itself a much larger role over the past few seasons as the Patriots offense has traditionally been a passing unit. The offense has had great success in the running game and the offense has been able to diversify and do a multitude of different things due to the versatility the offense brings. Danny Woodhead may have shed some light to the Patriots brass to maybe show what it would be like with more speed in the backfield. In 2011 the Patriots spent a second and third round pick on Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley and the rest is history. The Patriots in 2012 has much success on the ground and Danny Woodhead became the veteran presence in the backfield despite only being in the league for four seasons.
Woodhead clearly isn’t the every down starter in the Patriots offense to this point. The Patriots seem to like his consistency and dependability as he is a quality role player for the team. Stevan Ridley is the starter for now and Shane Vereen showed towards the end of the season maybe he can do some of the things that Woodhead can do and potentially be even more dynamic than Woodhead. The Patriots invested a second round pick in Shane Vereen in 2011. One has to wonder how similar the skill sets between Vereen and Woodhead really are. Is it worth holding out a young and explosive -potential break out candidate in Vereen for Danny Woodhead? I feel the Patriots offensive playmakers need to find a way to get more speed and youth involved. There is no reason the Patriots can’t have both Vereen and Woodhead as both are quality players-however both skill-sets are very similar and it may hold back from adding to another position of need on the roster.
The NFL has evolved into this pass heavy league and it will be very interesting to see how many teams will be interested in a player like Woody. I feel a good amount of teams would be interested in having Woodhead on their roster as he is as versatile as they come. Woodhead returned kicks for the Patriots most of the season and proved to be an effective passing down back. I would think the Patriots would be open to bringing him back on board as a veteran presence and a situational role player but it would have to be at the right price. If other teams show interest in Danny that could drive the price tag higher than Patriots may be willing to go. With that said I can’t imagine Danny Woodhead will be breaking the bank anywhere as there will be a plethora of running backs available in this 2013 free agent crop.
Do you feel Danny will be backwith New England? Will the Patriots be a better football team with Danny Woodhead on the roster? Let me know in the comments section what you think! Are you for or against re-signing Danny Woodhead? Be sure to follow me on Twitter for more updates @MikeOnofrio !
Friday, February 15, 2013
The New England Patriots made it to the AFC Championship but are in no means a perfect team. Every team has areas that could certainly use some improvement. With free agency looming just under a month away, Premium Pats will be taking a brief look at some of the free agents out there who may or may not be good fits for the Patriots as well as some interesting thoughts to go along. Today we are going to look at impending free agent Ed Reed.
There is no doubt Ed Reed is a game changer. Ed has done it at every level of his playing career going from a high school stand out to a National Champion with the Miami Hurricanes to being a 9x Pro Bowl record setting Super Bowl Champion. Ed Reed’s resume is heavily decorated. Even at his age of 34 Ed Reed still makes such an impact in the Raven’s secondary. I find it very hard to believe the Baltimore Ravens will simply let Ed Reed walk after he just helped them win a Super Bowl. Also you would have to factor in the fact the Baltimore Ravens are going to be without Ray Lewis next year. The Baltimore Ravens need Ed Reed to come back and do what he does as a player and a leader. Without Ed Reed the Raven’s will look like a completely different team next year and it certainly won’t be for the better. With that said the Patriots secondary is abysmal. It has been abysmal for years now. The situation is just too perfect. Bill Belichick has coached for over 37 years now and in all of his years he has said he “hasn’t coached against anyone better in the secondary than Ed Reed.” That right there is super telling in the respect that coach Belichick has for the player. Also, Ed during Super Bowl weekend said he “definitely” could see himself as a Patriot and then gushed about how much he loved the way that the Patriots do things. The Patriots need an elite force in their secondary and it just so happens that Ed Reed is available as an impending free agent and would love to suit up in red white and blue? Why isn’t this a slam dunk no brainer? Adding Ed Reed to the Patriots would instantly sure up our secondary and come September when Ed Reed turns 35 you can bank if healthy that he will be ball hawking with the best in the league because that is the type of player Ed is. He is elite even still at his age. Ed’s range has declined a bit that is where he relies on his brain and instincts to come out and make the plays needed. Reed is coming of a 6 year 44.4 million dollar contract and has been haunted with nagging injuries but there is no question when he is out on the field he is going to make plays that will impact the game. That is more than you can say about any safety the Patriots have on their roster currently. The problem will lie if Ed can even make it to free agency.
Coach Jim Harbaugh had preliminary discussions with Ed immediately following the Ravens Super Bowl win on the bus ride away from the stadium. “He and I both agreed that we want him back. I want him back, and Ed wants to be back.” The question remains will the Baltimore Ravens be able to afford paying Joe Flacco top 5 QB money as well as retaining some of their key players such as Dannell Elerby, Dennis Pitta and Paul Krueger? The Ravens are currently about 9 million under the cap. It is a complex situation and unfortunately as quality a player as Ed is to the Ravens he isn’t going to be number one on their priority list.
If The Ravens choose not to re-sign Ed before the start of free agency on March 12th, then they would one be foolish but secondly the Patriots would have the chance to scoop up a once in a lifetime player for more than likely a relatively conservative – team friendly deal that will sure up their secondary with one of – if not THE greatest free safety to ever play the game. A lot can happen between now and free agency but my guess is the Ravens recognize Ed’s importance to the team and lock him up for another year or so but time will tell. If it is too good to be true, then it probably is, but one can only hope!
Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below in the comments section. Be sure to follow me on twitter for more updates @MikeOnofrio and stay posted for more free agent targets!
Thursday, January 31, 2013
With the Patriots falling to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship it got me fired up enough to get back to Pats talk since our offseason starts now! The Patriots are now in the rear view mirror while the Super Bowl has come into focus. There are plenty of Patriots related story lines to look at heading into this week. On the 49ers side former Patriot Randy Moss has what could be his last crack at a Super Bowl ring. Randy made things exciting during Super Bowl media week by proclaiming himself to be the “greatest receiver to ever play.” While on the Ravens side Ed Reed said he could “definitely” see himself as a Patriot. Ed Reed is a free agent following the Super Bowl this weekend. The Patriots have struggled in their secondary over the last handful of seasons and adding a veteran like Ed Reed who Bill Bellichick has gushed over in the past could sure up the secondary and add some veteran leadership if the stars were to align for that possibility to become a reality. Keep it locked down to Premium Pats as things are only getting started back up!
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The New England Patriots suffered a significant blow to their offensive side of the ball losing star tight end Aaron Hernandez to injury. Hernandez has been reported to have a high ankle sprain that will allow 4-6 weeks of heal time. This is a big blow to the Patriots offense. The Patriots offense has changed since drafting Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez . The Patriots’ offense is based around these two tight ends. Without Aaron Hernandez the Patriots needed to find a way to fill the void while he is healing up.
The day I found out that Dieon Branch was released I honestly couldn’t figure out why. The Patriots had released Donte’ Stallworth and Jabaar Gaffney. They went from having the deepest wide receiving core to having one of the thinnest. Why would the Patriots cut one of their most reliable options at wide receiver? Branch’s big knock is that he doesn’t have break away speed like he used to. Well not many 33 year old receivers have break away speed. Branch’s value was as a 3rd-4th option at receiver who had Tom Brady’s trust to be where he needed to be and make the catches. Another speculation was if Branch were released and brought back any time after week one, the Patriots would not have to guarantee his contract. Branch’s locker has remained intact this season and this move was expected however the injury to Hernandez likely sped up the process. When interviewed and asked about it Branch mentioned how he received calls from other teams but he had to do what was in the best interest in his family. I think the Patriots and Branch had a wink wink nod nod agreement and a Branch return to New England was imminent. Tom Brady was asked on WEEI a week or so ago if he would like to have Branch back and he said at this point Branch is not on the roster which to me eluded to Branch also returning. Either way Patriots Nation Branch is back and will absolutely come in aid of the loss of Hernandez . Branch is a savvy vet who knows the Patriots offense and can step in with Tom Brady and be effective against the Ravens on Sunday.
The Patriots have been flirting with signing Kellen Winslow since his surprise release from the Seahawks. Winslow is a former Pro Bowl tight end who’s skill set is very similar to Hernandez’s. Winslow will allow the Patriots to continue their two tight end sets and will fill the role of Aaron Hernandez in his absence. How Winslow will pan out remains to be seen. One would think it would be difficult for Winslow to just learn Hernandez’s role in a week so I suspect it will take some time before we see results but Winslow has speed and can still catch the ball. Winslow was reported to be one of the best offensive weapons on the Seahawks and was abruptly cut before the season opener. Winslow has visited the Patriots a few times and reportedly failed a physical a few weeks ago. This time around Winslow passed and is now on the Patriots roster.
Adding these two will surely soften the blow to the loss of Hernandez. However the Patriots offensive woes go deeper than the loss of Hernandez. The Patriots need a turn around offensively if they want to have a successful season. Losing to the Arizona Cardinals isn’t a great sign for a team that was in the Super Bowl 8 months ago.
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Friday, August 31, 2012
Well Bill Belichick and the Patriots did it again when they stunned Patriot Nation in releasing some big names from the squad earlier today to get down to the NFL regulated 53 man roster for the 9 pm deadline. The Patriots are known to not hold sentiment to players however some of the moves made many scratch their heads. The Patriots are one of the most successful organizations in the NFL because they have been known to make the tough decisions when they need to. The Patriots remind us this is a business and Bill Belichick does “What’s best for his football team.” Let’s take a deeper look into some of the shocking cuts from today’s cut down.
Brian Hoyer- Hoyer has been the primary backup to Tom Brady since going undrafted out of Michigan State in 2009. Hoyer was known for mostly for his short passing attack and struggled with his arm strength. Hoyer was slightly undersized at Quarterback standing at 6’2. Mallett was then drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft and has ideal Quarterback height at 6’6. Mallet has a much stronger arm than Hoyer and has a much better deep passing game-however, Mallett seemed to have struggled with his accuracy over the pre-season. Bill Belichick said the #2 Quarterback race was “tight”. Both got about equal snaps in the pre-season and both appeared to have their ups and downs. If you asked me who would have gotten the job I would have guessed Hoyer just because he has been in the Patriots system and knows the offense. Clearly, I was mistaken and the Pats took the more talented Mallett who is only 24 entering his second season in the NFL and is now Tom Brady’s backup. Mallett will continue to develop and hone his skills under one of the best Quarterbacks in the NFL. Still it is more shocking to me that the Patriots couldn’t get a deal for Hoyer. I fully expect Hoyer to get scooped up somewhere in the next week. I hear the Jets need a Quarterback.
Dan Koppen- I was shocked the Patriots actually brought him back in the first place earlier this offseason. My initial thought was he was brought back to star at center so that Dan Connolly would start at guard. While Brian Waters ponders retirement, maybe this is a sign that Waters will be back for another season moving Connolly on the inside. Another note Waters’ locker has been intact the way he left it all summer long. Koppen has been solid in his career with New England and has been Brady’s center since being drafted in 2003. He is now 32 and unemployed with less than a week until the season starts.
James Ihedigbo- I am not so surprised here. Ihedigbo I thought was a great depth signing but he isn’t a big factor on special teams, and would only be a back-up behind Chung, Gregory, Wilson, and at this point the emerging Nate Ebner. I really think being knicked up most of training camp also wasn’t a great thing for Ihedigbo as it allowed other guys to pass him out on the depth chart. A shame he couldn’t make it but opens the door for the younger guys.
Deion Branch- This one absolutely floored me. I am still trying to get over this one. Branch was just re-signed for a one year deal this past March. I thought for sure he was as close to a lock as you could get behind Welker and Lloyd, but again I was proven wrong. Branch isn’t what he used to be. I totally get it but Branch has a connection with Tom Brady that I’m not sure any other player (maybe Welker) on the Patriots has. Branch isn’t as fast as he used to be or maybe not even as talented, but Branch is a good solid wide receiver that knows the offense inside and out and is a great route runner.-couple that with the fact that Deion is one of the quarterback’s favorite and most dependable targets. Oh, or how about the veteran leadership he brings to the locker room? I thought for sure Branch would be a quality #3 wide receiver. If you told me Jesse Holley would make the team and Deion Branch would get cut yesterday I would have laughed in your face but it’s real. Very real. The Patriots went from having one of the deepest wide receiver positions in the NFL to now having what looks to be one of the more thin ones. Maybe the Patriots don’t need to be deep at wide receiver. The Patriots will have Welker and Branch at receiver, and Gronk and Hernandez. The Patriots still have plenty targets so I am not worried about that. The shock is the fact that Branch was cut and behind Lloyd and Welker there are unproven guys leaving us all with a ton of questions. There are a few AFC East teams that are hurting for quality receivers. It would disgust me-yet not surprise me- if Branch landed elsewhere in the AFC East.
So looking back at some of the big named cuts it appears the Patriots are trying to get younger. At each of those players’ positions they were released for younger talent. Will it pay off? Time will tell. How do you feel about the Patriots moves? Do you agree? Disagree? Fill up the comments section below and tell me what you think ! Stay tuned to Premium Pats as we monitor addition cuts leading up to the 9pm deadline tonight! Follow me on Twitter @MikeOnofrio!