Another disappointing finish to another tough season filled with many ups and downs for the Patriots. The season got off on the wrong foot with the Wes Welker debacle, and then there was the Aaron Hernandez drama followed by Gronk’s injuries becoming a growing issue. The season started out tough for the offense with so many new faces. By week four through six the Patriots had already lost three of their most important defensive players in Wilfork, Kelly and Mayo. The injuries then continued to pile on as Vollmer went out week eight with a broken leg. Then, just weeks later, after he had just returned and the Pats offense started looking good, Gronk took a leg shot and was now out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL. With all the injuries amassed during the season, it is amazing that the Patriots ended up 12-4.
By the end of the year, little known Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga were the starting defensive tackles for the Patriots. But, the great franchise they are, the Patriots found a way to get a bye and win yet another divisional playoff game in Foxboro to move onto their 3rd straight AFC championship. This time though it was against the dreaded Peyton Manning. Even though the Pats were totally undermanned and the underdog they still were one game away from the Super Bowl. Come time for the boys to step up, they failed to show up to this game. From the get go there was no energy and the offense couldn’t get anything going. Once Talib was hurt in the second quarter the writing was on the wall for the fate of this team. The season ended with a sour taste in fans mouths. Not because they lost, but how they lost. It was a lopsided failure. For the second straight year the Patriots had lost in the AFC title game. It was a great season for such a decimated team. Some consider this the best work of Belichick and even Brady too. They did so much with so little.
There are many pressing offseason issues that need addressing. The 2014 Free Agency period will be huge this year for New England as they will have to decide whether or not to resign Talib and Edelman. There is a lot of looming dead money in this upcoming offseason that may hamper the Patriots chances at top tier free agents. They may to think about restructuring the contracts of Wilfork and Mankins and extend McCourty, and Gostkowski to save money and maybe think about adding some help at safety, defensive line and offensive line. This is one of the youngest teams in the NFL and I don’t think they want to keep relying heavily on rookies to take on big roles early in their careers here. There are many big things that will be hashed out by come the end of March. The team may look drastically different on paper by July's training camp.