How to you think the lockout will affect the Patriots compared to the other 31 teams?
Jason: I think the Patriots will be hurt more than many other teams due to the lockout because there are so many young players, especially on defense. One of the reasons why players typically take a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 is the experience of a full season and offseason, and the lack of offseason programs could delay the development of key young players like Cunningham, McCourty, Spikes, Gronkowski and Hernandez. And if the Patriots don’t trade a few of their picks in this year’s draft, they’ll have even more young players that won’t benefit from a “normal” offseason.
Rick: I don’t think the Patriots will be hurt as much by the lockout as other teams because the foundation of the team is basically in place. Bill Belichick is a coach that is strong at taking players on the fly, plugging them into roles, and making them successful which would be the case with the rookies in this year’s draft. This is a veteran laden team for the most part and we have already seen Jerod Mayo hold private workouts to help the defense out. There aren’t many questions with this team that a lockout would ruin their chances of a Super Bowl in 2011. Plus, having all those draft picks could lead them to get an impact player or even more picks in a more stable NFL agreement during the 2012 NFL Draft.
Stephen: I think the Patriots will hurt more than what the experts expect. While they do have a veteran coach and quarterback, their biggest weakness – the defense – is full of young players. When you’re expecting to count on guys like Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Pat Chung and Devin McCourty, they need the experience in the offseason to make a big jump. Add in the rookies that will be expected to fulfill prominent roles, the lockout could hurt the growth of the Patriots’ young core.
Derek: I think the lockout will obviously hurt the development of the Patriots’ younger players. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there other 31 teams are in the exact same boat, and none of them are coming off of 14-2 seasons. The Patriots dominated the league with their young roster last year, and while they won’t have an off-season to gel, neither will the other teams who’s youngsters didn’t fare as well as a whole. I think the Patriots have an ace up their sleeve, in that they have Bill Belichick as their head coach. No one is better at preparing his players than Belichick, so if any team will be ready to go after a shortened off-season, it will be the Patriots.