With training camp hot around the corner excitement for the NFL season is beginning to heat up. That being said here's 10 wonderful things to look forward to this Patriots season.
1. Chandler Jones Is Another Year Older - The impact defensive end and star guest in Julian Edelman's "Burgertyme" is coming off of his best season yet but there can only be more to come.
After a rousing 11.5 Sacks last year Jones will be returning this year leaner, meaner, and with that same tenacity that makes him a great player. Look for Jones to pulverize his fair share of quarterbacks this season and force bad passes as opposing QBs scramble in fear.
2. Less Hernandez - Despite Aaron Hernandez being in prison rather than on the field last season his name continued to pop up in New England. This season however the Hernandez talk should be dampened by time and the recent discovery that the texts between him and Belichick were unrelated to anything worth noting.
Patriots fans will be free to cheer in peace this season, except of course all the other fans and analyst that just plain hate the "evil empire"
3. Running Backs That Give 110% - running back already is a grueling position in the NFL, with most running backs having trouble lasting in the pros for more than a few seasons. Add in that every New England Patriot running back is seemingly playing for a spot on this years and/or next years roster and it's icing on a cake made of pressure.
Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen enter this season in the final year of their rookie deals both with massive question marks. With resurfacing fumbling issues early in his career Ridley has loads to prove this season, and barely able to stay on the field Vereen will need to show the Patriots staff he can be a consistent contributor.
Throw in Brandon Bolden fighting for reps and the rookie Houston playing for a spot on the roster and this years battle should provide great production and a solid storyline throughout the season.
4. Who if not Gronk and Edelman - Tom Brady and the Patriot offense always seem to find a way to be successful over the course of the regular season but Bill Belichick and the rest of Patriots anagement/Ownership never fail to provide a challenge for the Brady Bunch.
This season much like last the Patriots have very little security at skill positions on the offensive end leaving the big question "if Gronkowski and Edelman aren't making plays who will?" Whether Dobson, Boyce, Lafell or "Johnny off the street" someone is going to have to step up. If not the Patriots offense will be very predictable.
The very question mark that creates worry on the offensive end also forms a sense of excitement waiting fir this seasons Julian Edelman to break out within the Patriots offense.
5. An Interior Line Change - Bill Belichick doesn't often like to bring in a young interior O-linemen and start him but he very well may break his way this season. After a horrendous season last year by interior linemen Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell .Along with a Patriots draft that included three capable Linemen their could be one or two starting roles won halfway through the season.
From a game play perspective this is particularly exciting because fans can expect to see fewer defensive tackles simply coming right up the middle and pulverizing the franchise.by the end of the season.
6. An Excuse Just About Every Sunday - Us New England fans we like to enjoy our games in a peaceful red white and blue painted basement with surround sound and choice of beverage. With the NFL season finally returning Patriots fans will have just the excuse they need to skip out on that boring party or extra work shift that was scheduled during the game, and great "water cooler talk" the next day
7. A One Way Ticket To The Caribbean - You would be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't love an island resort vacation. Here in New England we had Revis Island float north this season which instead of sunshine and drinks with umbrellas will bring the Patriots a steady stream of press coverage and frustrated opposing receivers.
The biggest question with Revis has been his health but a full season removed from his knee injury and taking into account the fact that he has played all 16 games the majority of his seasons in the pros injuries shouldn't be a factor this season.
Revis will be a factor on defense locking up receivers, look for his stats to be solid and all the players around him to reap the rewards of playing alongside a lockdown corner
8.. The Hoodies Gears Grinding - all throughout the upcoming season Bill Belichick's head will be spinning thinking about this teams defense. Only this time it won't be because the defense can't stop even the most mediocre passing offense, instead Belichick and company will be scheming all season to take advantage if the wonderful versatility this years defense has.
With a great mix of strong veterans like Mayo/McCourty and young playmakers in Collins and Logan Ryan this years team will confuse and abuse opposing offenses. Look for the Hoodie to be full throttle throwing mixed packages, Zone-Man combos and exotic blitz packages week in and week out.
9. Another Year With A Top 5 QB - Once again this season the New England Patriots will be blessed with a top five quarterback on their roster in Tom Brady. Luckily for fans and the organization Brady isn't just a top five QB currently he is one of the all time greats and I an absolute blessing to watch.
As the days of Brady's career dwindle to an end we can only hope that they end with the type of fireworks that leave fans with a lasting memory and boost Brady's legacy.
10. That Shiny New Ring At The End Of The Season - Call me crazy but this team has everything necessary to bring another championship back to Mass. With the massive additions of Revis and Browner paired with the return of Wilfork/Kelly/Mayo the defense will be set for success.
Offensively the team has a solid running back core, eight legitimate lineman and the franchise still under center leaving me with no worry they will be successful.
The Patriots biggest competition in the AFC, the Denver Broncos attempted to re-tool equally as hard as the Patriots but have put too much emphasis in the always injured Demarcus Ware and Aqib Talib.WIth no doubt in my mind that Talib will tap out in the playoffs much like he did with the Patriots the Broncos defense should be hampered.
The excitement is growing in the New England area as the expectations for this season are sky high and i'm standing right on top of all the expectations predicting a long overdue championship 10 years after their last