The New England Patriots are coming off what by all accounts was a good year for them. They finished in first place in the AFC East with a 12-4 record. The Patriots got a first round bye as well as home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Then to top it all off they won their fourth Super Bowl under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Of course with Super Bowl victories comes the expectation of higher salaries from the members of the winning team, but also the ability to attract players on the open market for slightly less because players want to go to a team that has just won the Super Bowl. The good news is that the Patriots have not had any major coaching shakeups. Bill Belichick is still the head coach, Josh McDaniels the offensive coordinator, Matt Patricia is still the defensive co-ordinate and Scott O’Brien is still the special teams coordinator.
The Patriots had the 17th ranked passing defense in the league last season and with the signing of ex-Cleveland Browns LB/DE Jabaal Sheard will get some help with their pass rush. The Patriots recorded 40 sacks last season, the Patriots also play hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense, so while its true that in each of the last three seasons his sack totals have gone down, but his versatility as LB/DE gives the Patriots some extra options. Admittedly Sheard will most likely be a role player in Belichick’s system but then so are most players. Sheard has only missed 3 games in his first four seasons he has 7 forced fumbles 2 fumble recoveries and 12 passes defensed good numbers for a defensive end, the scary stat is he dropped 1.5 sacks between his rookie (8.5) and sophomore year (7.0) in his third season (5.5) he dropped another 1.5 sacks and then last year (2.0) dropped 3.5 sacks last year. With that said I still think he will fit in very nicely in New England’s scheme is a quality pickup.
The Patriots have been looking to replace the production of Aaron Hernandez ever since he was arrested at that second tight end position. Michael Hoomanawanui with 3 receptions and Tim Wright with 26 receptions just doesn’t get the job done. Wright had 78.8 reception ratio and Hoomanawanui had 60.0 reception ratio last year but it is quite clear that Tom Brady doesn’t trust either of these guys with the ball. Wright was targeted 33 times and Hoomanawanui was targeted 5 times. For Wright this past season not only saw a drop in receptions from his rookie season but also targets. In Wright’s rookie season he had 54 receptions on 76 targets for a 71.1 RR. While Wright’s rookie numbers look good on paper and he didn’t do a bad job with the targets he did get, someone doesn’t trust the kid. To that end the signing of former Bills tight end Scott Chandler should do the trick. Chandler going into his 9th season for his career 182 receptions on 273 targets with a 66.6 RR. This past season Chandler posted 47 receptions on 70 targets for a 67.1 RR. The question that should be asked at this point is Wright is younger than Chandler and has a better career RR at 73.4 doesn’t Wright have more upside than Chandler. The reason that Chandler is an upgrade is blocking Scott Chandler can pass protect, and he is an almost equivalent receiver to Tim Wright, which to my humble thinking puts Hoomanawanui on the outside looking in at keeping his roster spot since while he is a blocking tight end he is clearly not a receiver.
The Patriots need a receiving option out of the backfield and Travaris Cadet is a good option. Cadet has 37 career rushing yards on 11 career rushing attempts, clearly not why teams keep him around. On the other hand Cadet has 45 career receptions on 61 career targets for a 73.8 RR for 345 career yards a 7.7 career yards per catch average. Cadet is coming off a career year in receiving, with 38 receptions on 51 targets for a 74.5 RR for 296 yards. Cadet is also a return specialist, his long last year was 34 and his career long is 82.
Brandon Gibson is entering his 7th season in the league he has 233 career receptions on 408 career targets a 57.1 RR 2,711 career yards and a career average of 11.6 yards per catch. Gibson has not been a steady performer, has only two seasons of 50+ catches and in his other 4 seasons he failed to reach 40 receptions every single time his worst year reception wise being last year as he failed to even reach the 30 reception mark. With that said I believe that he will make a good #3 receiver behind Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell which should help Brady out in the passing game just a little bit more.
Final Grade: B