New England Patriots of 2018 may be better than they've been in years | Forum

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jiuwe Nov 9 '18
New England Patriots of 2018 may be better than they've been in years It would be an overstatement to characterize a living, breathing — and ever-evolving —dynasty as lying in the weeds. But after flying under the radar while spending another September integrating new upgrades and waiting for a key piece of hardware to come online (New England is 7-5 in the first quarter of the season since 2016), it seems Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have officially completed the roll-out of Patriots version 18.0.This one could be spectacular.There's still no headphone jack or enough bandwidth to accommodate a suffocating defense, but the bells and whistles might just mean Brady will be toggling his most dynamic set of weapons since Patriots 7.0 went 18-0 in 2007 before that infamous Super Bowl XLII collapse. The current group won't be chasing perfection after getting whipped by the Jaguars and Lions last month, but it most definitely has a chance to pull New England even with Pittsburgh by capturing a sixth Lombardi Trophy.More: USA TODAY Sports' Week 5 NFL picks: Who wins Battle of Texas, NFC title game rematch?More: Seven questions for NFL Week 5: Will Drew Brees take Peyton Manning's career passing record?More: Player safety failure: NFL continues to disregard rules against using helmet as weaponMore: Julian Edelman returns, Tom Brady gets milestone as Patriots cruise past ColtsWhy such optimism for a team that currently sits in seventh place overall in the AFC with a 3-2 record after Thursday's 38-24 defeat of the struggling Colts?Slot receiver extraordinaire Julian Edelman returned from his four-game PED suspension Thursday to play his first meaningful game since the Patriots shocked the Falcons in Super Bowl LI (a knee injury cost Edelman the 2017 season). He posted a modest seven catches for 57 yards — Belichick admitted Edelman didn't have a full offensive role against Indianapolis — but generally looked like the player Brady typically relies on to move the chains, despite one egregious drop in the first quarter that cost New England a first down and nice swath of real estate. (Did we mention it was Edelman's first game that counted in 606 days?) Thursday also marked the first time since Nov. 27, 2016, that Brady, Edelman, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back James White shared the same field.“You can take us away from each other for 10 years and we’ll come back and be the same," said Gronkowski.Noted Brady: "The more great players you have out there, the better we’re going to move the ball and score points."First-round pick Sony Michel looks like the real deal. The running back missed the opener after getting his knee scoped in August, but he is quickly developing into a perfect complement to White.Michel has scored the past two weeks and posted 100 yards of total offense each time. Though he and White are both multi-faceted, it appears the former Georgia star will get the bulk of the carries, while White (team-high 10 receptions Thursday) will usually handle passing downs. They have the goods to be the best back duo north of New Orleans — which is key since Michel and White are currently the only tailbacks on the 53-man roster."Both of them did a great job," said Belichick. "We were dependent on them for quite a bit and they came through."More: Despite Rams' prolific start, Sean McVay won't let himself forget a few plays he deems 'horrendous'More: Richard Sherman on record-setting NFL offenses: 'This is what the league wanted'More: Andrew Luck can't beat New England Patriots by himselfA receiving corps that's been in constant flux since the Patriots dumped Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola followingJamal Adams Authentic Jerseytheir Super Bowl loss to the Eagles might finally have a winning combination — both because Edelman has returned and since it appears Josh "Flash" Gordon is now ready to contribute. (New England traded for the troubled Browns receiver Sept. 17, even though he continues to battle substance abuse demons, a reputation for immaturity and a balky hamstring.)But Gordon announced his presence Thursday, reeling in Brady's 500th career TD pass — Gordon was the 71st player to catch a TB12TD, another record — while being bracketed on a broken play."To catch any pass from Tom is amazing, let alone some history-making catch or pass," said Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013 but was suspended for most of the next four seasons. "Hopefully, he's got a lot more left in him — I'm pretty sure he does — so I'm looking forward to that."Brady has been lockering next to Gordon and spending extra time while helping to synthesize the freakishly gifted receiver into The Patriot Way.If Gordon can keep his personal life in order and absorb enough of the playbook, New England might finally have its best mismatch receiver since Randy Moss. Gordon can physically dominate downfield and in the red zone, and his ability — in conjunction with Gronkowski working the seams, Edelman moving the sticks with his short and intermediate patterns, White tearing off big chunks via dumpoffs and designed routes and gadget guy Cordarrelle Patterson on call for exotic duties — could allow Brady to threaten every blade of grass like he never has.After months of scrutiny about supposedly strained relations among owner Robert Kraft, Belichick and Brady — the quarterback and Gronk (who was on the trade block) stayed away for most of the team's spring program — it appears normalcy has returned.New England has won two in a row after that disturbing 1-2 start, posting 38 points and more than 400 yards each time while dispatching the Colts and previously unbeaten Dolphins in Week 4. "There's no quarterback I'd rather have than Tom Brady," Belichick said Thursday, noting how remarkable it is to throw 500 TDs."He does a great job week-in and week-out, year-in and year-out, all of the situations. He does a great job."Now, as Belichick might say, we're on to Kansas City.There are still bugs to iron out of Patriots 18.0. Gordon must prove he's reliable. Gronkowski has 10 days to nurse a bum ankle as he tries to coax his battered body through its ninth NFL campaign. New left tackle Trent Brown has to continue proving a 6-8, 380-pounder can safeguard Brady's blind side — and Brown will see Khalil Mack in two weeks. A defense that failed the Patriots in Super Bowl LII needs to reassert itself.And it's time to start beating good teams after the Patriots opened with a group that has gone 9-12 collectively. Jacksonville appears to be the only opponent thus far built for a playoff run, and the Jags handled New England in Week 2.The Chiefs, currently 4-0 and sporting wunderkind quarterback Mahomes, roll into Foxborough for a Sunday Night Football date in Week 6 laden with playoff implications.But these Patriots now seem ready to handle all comers.***Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavisJosh Martin Jersey Brian Winters JerseyJordan Leggett Jersey Lac Edwards Jersey Zach Sudfeld Jersey Lawrence Thomas Jersey Chris Harper Jersey Khiry Robinson Jersey Nike Darrelle Revis Jersey On Sale Calvin Pryor Jersey John Riggins White Elite Jersey Derrick Jones Jersey Jason Vander Laan JerseyBrandon Marshall Jersey Cheap Ryan Clady JerseyDakota Dozier Jersey Julian Howsare Jersey Jace Amaro Jersey Lachlan Edwards Jersey