“Kraft needs to go spend some serious money this season if the Patriots want to win the Super Bowl.”
It seems like this is the only line people have been tweeting since the Patriots season came to a close after a loss in the AFC Championship Game (their third appearance in as many years). With players like Austin Collie, Logan Ryan, and Chris Jones the Patriots came within one game of reaching the Super Bowl for the sixth time in twelve years. So, what should the team do this offseason to get back to the big game?
Going into the 2013 offseason, the Patriots seemed like they had a great roster to play with. After the draft, it seemed like the team would be contending for a championship like it has been since Bill Belichick was brought in almost 14 years ago. However, in June of 2013, the team’s young star tight end Aaron Hernandez left his house in handcuffs and was led to county jail. After that moment, the down spiral of injuries began.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was looked at to put up massive numbers to replace the loss of Hernandez, missed the first seven games of the season after multiple surgeries. He returned to action and looked great, until he tore his ACL against the Cleveland Browns in early December and was unavailable for the postseason. This came after both interior linemen Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly went down with leg injuries earlier in the season. They all joined All-Pro linebacker Jerod Mayo on the IR list, who was already with Pro Bowl offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer. To put things into perspective, the Patriots had more Pro Bowlers on their injured reserve list than the Texans and Jaguars entire rosters had.
Despite this, players like Joe Vellano, Jamie Collins, Julian Edelman, and Ryan Allen stepped their games up in massive ways to make up for lost production. Tom Brady had one of his best seasons with limited weapons, and the defense (although horrid at times) was able to keep the team in most games.
All of this begs me to ask the question, why do the Patriots need to spend all of this money on players? I agree, the team has a few holes that they need to address, but who better to fill in those holes than Bill Belichick himself? With players like Mayo, Vollmer, and Wilfork returning from injuries this season , the team will already be in a much better position than they were in when they entered the AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots had a magical season of comeback wins, and exceeding expectations. With everything they endured, they made if further than anyone thought they would, and yet the fans still cry for more. Let’s all take a moment to remember that the Patriots have not had a losing season since they went 5-11 back in 2000. That is 13 straight winning seasons, with five Super Bowl appearances (three wins) eight AFC Championship Game appearances, and 11 AFC East Division titles. So, to all of the Patriot fans hollering and screaming for the team to have a “huge offseason,” sit down, shut up, and enjoy what we are all witnessing.