The New England Patriots are fit to be tied, as their independence day didn’t quite happen as predicted. The New England Patriots’ 48th season ended with an awesome score of 18-1, just shy of winning the final game against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. What can you say of the strategy of the Patriots? Since they only lost to the Giants by three points, you can’t really argue that the team should totally restructure. Sometimes there’s just bad luck in the air and destiny apparently denied the Patriots their Super Bowl freedom. In 2008 the team will attempt to play another undefeated season, this time winning the Super Bowl that many feel they rightly deserved in 2007.
One of the biggest clues as to their 2008 success will be the NFL Draft. Their draft season got off to a slow start, as they were penalized by the league for using video equipment to record a team’s signals during a September 9, 2007 game against the New York Jets. (As if you need to resort to Spygate to defeat the Jets?) The Patriots had to forfeit their original first round pick, which would have been the 31st overall pick because of their championship loss. However, the team has managed to score some successful talent early in the season.
The team will be adding linebacker Jerod Mayo from Tennessee University, as well as fellow linebackers Shawn Crable from Michigan and Bo Ruud from Nebraska. The team has also acquired two strong cornerbacks in Terrence Wheatley from Colorado and Jonathan Wilhite from Auburn. Quarterback Kevin O’Connell will also play ball for the Patriots, coming all the way from San Diego State. Finally, there’s safety Matt Slater from the University of California in Los Angeles. In addition, the team signed 13 undrafted agents following the NFL draft.
What was the reaction of fans to the team’s NFL draft choices? Reaction was mixed to Terrence Wheatley, as he is relatively small at 5’9 187 pounds but still maintains great running speed. While some describe this choice as reaching, others believe it was to fill a position of need. As regards Jerod Mayo, experts state that the team traded down with their pick but still received a player that fit into their system. There has been high praise for O’Connell, as he was considered one of the Draft’s sleeper picks. Other players brought less excitement, as many of the most promising new talents were already snatched up by other teams. Fans were surprised to see Shawn Crable, an outside linebacker, chosen instead of a defensive end. Many also questioned the hiring of Jonathan Wilhite, who is largely untested, starting only six games during his senior year.
The draft focused attention on seven players that will make or break New England this coming season. New England doesn’t have much to be ashamed of, practically nothing to lose, but plenty of motivation to win. Fans agree that while New England’s draft picks were unexpected their overall chances seem very good. Even if New England should finish one loss more than their 2007 season, they still have plenty to be proud of, as they have proven to be of the most dominant teams of the decade.
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