I am honestly still very proud of our team. They played very, very few games with even close to their ideal lineups due to injuries to key players in virtually every game. No excuses, but a healthy Gronkowski in this game solves most of the 3rd down problems, and redzone issues we had......Ravens played a more inspired game, especially on defense. Talib going down proved to be absolutely devastating. He was absolutely handling Boldin in the first half, and that made it very easy to subdue Torrey Smith with double's and forcing Flacco to look for Pitta......just like the Superbowl last year, even though the score was tight, I felt like we had the game right there for the taking, simply because of possession/field position. Chandler Jones also not playing gave us basically no edge pressure. What also was frustrating was the success we had when blitzing, but a lack of consistency in turning to that.
This offseason is going to present some difficult situations.
Welker keeps proving to be the lifeblood, and even though he has had a couple memorable key drops, his resume speaks for itself. If he must be franchised again to retain him, then they should do it.
Talib seems very happy in NE. I don't know if it was the cold, bad luck, or what, but he was so damn injury prone for us....really a shame, because his presence and ability completely changes the complexion of our defense. I don't see him seeking top-10 CB money, so I think it is well worth the investment to get a 2-3 year deal on the table for him.
Vollmer is a must-sign. We simply will not replace his size/ability through FA or the draft.
I don't see the Pats keeping both Edlemen and Woodhead, unless they agree to team-friendly contracts....they have very crucial, carved out roles on this team. They seem to be more products of a system; hopefully they recognize that, and don't make the mistake of seeking starting roles elsewhere, which will cause likely failures for both.
Chung is about as good as gone. Bust. Injury-prone. Maybe he resigns on the cheap to redeem himself but the situation doesn't seem to make this likely.
Arrington needs to go. He can't his shadow in any change of direction route, and is just not athletic/tall enough to be consistent.
If Talib re-signs, there doesn't even need to be a 1st or 2nd round focus on secondary drafting. Talib/Dennard is a proven, formidable combination on the outside. McCourty/Wilson will only get better with time. Dowling, if he can stay on the field, would make a great nickle CB with his size/coverage skills. I think another FA signing for a rotational CB and drafting a safety in round 3 or later is about all that needs to be done, if this core is retained.
To me, the drafting priority is DT, then OT/OG, rotational DB/S, WR.
Wilfork is getting older, and we need a 5-technique interior D-lineman to get more push up the middle, to make the pass-rushers we have more effective. Wilfork simply is not enough to get this huge task done through an entire season/playoffs. He looked the most exhausted out of any player interview post-game. Get the man some help!
How we made it through this season with the O-line injuries we had, is beyond me. Hats off to Dante for the amazing coaching job he did this season. If we can hang on to Vollmer, I would love to see a solid OT drafted to start at G for us, and to provide insurance if Vollmer/Solder have more injury issues. Our running game is so shifty and draw-based, that we basically need OT speed out of our Guards to nail the interior assignments. A 2nd round pick should be used on an O-linemen IMO.
Talib is clearly a "glue-guy" type of DB for our secondary. McCourty will only get better in his role.....but we need to find that consistent play-maker over the middle. A bigger S/Nickle type who can help the LB's over the top with TE's, and when bigger WR's go over the middle. Boldin ate us alive......Robert Lester (FS, Bama), should be the target in round 3. Not quite a Mark Barron type-prospect, but still of the same style of play.....basically what we were hoping Chung to be.