The New England Patriots, Then and Now

Seeing the Green Bay Packers get demolished by the New York Giants in their first game of the 2011 post-season brought back memories for us Pats fans.

They looked like us from the 2009/2010 post-seasons.

What hasn't changed?

Tom Brady and the left-side of the OLine with Logan Mankins at LG and Matt Light at LT. Steady as she goes.

Patrick Chung(SS) and Kyle Arrington(2nd or 3rd CB). The rest of the DB committee is different and has shifted all season as the Pats have had over a dozen DBs trying out this year during the regular season.

Vince Wilfork upfront backed up LBs Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich. WIlfork is playing to form while Mayo and Ninkovich are playing at high levels.

Did you hear something about the Pats switching to a 4-3? Forget it, it's a 3-4 concept again. That 4-3 experiment ended with the release of some jerk named Haynesworth and the injury to DE Andre Carter.

Slow starts and/or finishes. Pats ended the season getting off to slow-starts. They began the season getting off to quick starts and slow finishes. All season long, 60 minutes of football has eluded them until Week 19 hosting Denver. Was it a fluke?

What has changed?

The Center-to-RT of the offensive line. Rookies Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon rotate in at right-tackle while former Chief and perrenial pro-bowler Brian Waters is in at right-guard playing at a high-level. The right-side of the O-Line is improved The old weakspot on the line was the right-end, but now it's usually the Center. Nate Solder sometimes will shift from RT to power-TE, and the Pats have begun bringing in more 3-TE looks.

The Big 3. Wes Welker missed that 2009 playoff game. Rob Gronkowski was still in college rehabing a back injury and Aaron Hernandez was hauling in passes from Tim Tebow in Florida. These three are the heart and soul of the Pats offense and are as versatile as they are great. Gronk has the surest hands, amazing speed for his size, and can run-block like a man who loves hitting men. Aaron Hernandez can line up like a WR, a FB, a RB, or a traditional TE. Welker loves finding LBs to pick on. All in all, the Pats are now strongest within the numbers and produce many of their yards after the catch from these Big 3. After them is 2nd WR Deion Branch who, like the Big 3, did not play in that playoff game.

The Running Backs by Committee. Kevin Faulk is still kicking but don't expect him to see much action BenJarvis GreenEllis never fumbles the ball and is reliable at being consistently-okay. Danny Woodhead is a change of pace back to appears to be getting off to a good streak. Shane Vereen(2nd round) and Stevan Ridley(3rd) are also new additions. Ridley is considered their most explosive back but he's had ball-security issues in the past two gams. Shane Vereen has been held back by hamstrings all year but is fresh off the injury report. Aaron Hernandez sneaks in a few runs here and there and has an attitude when he's charging downhill.

The Front-7. They just came off their best performance of the season. While the Ravens O will recognize DLine Captain Vince Wilfork and LB Captain Jerod Mayo, they won't recognize much else. Rob Ninkovich is playing great at OLB and the Pats snagged pass-rusher Mark Anderson to shore up the other side. Anderson is underrated as a pass-rusher as he's just starting to get more playing-time. To help out Mayo the Pats got Brandon Spikes, "the Tebow of the Florida Gators defense" or something, who adds great physicality to the run-D at MLB. Up front they have Gerard Warren(Raiders) and Shaun Ellis(Jets) along with UDFA-gem Kyle Love helping out Wilfork.

How about the Baltimore Ravens? What's changed? And how is this year's cheerleading squad vs. 2009's? Pictures please.

The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!

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