Do the Patriots need to add a big-time playmaker at wide receiver and/or running back or is this offense good enough to win a title with?
Jason: I may be in the minority, but I really don’t think that the offense needs another playmaker to win a Super Bowl. The personnel on offense hasn’t been a problem. The Patriots led the league in scoring offense this year, and they finished the regular season 9th in rushing yards per game and tied for 2nd in rushing TDs. A lot of folks feel New England needs a dynamic gamebreaker to put a halt to the current three-game playoff skid, but I think the larger problem has been the lack of balance in play calling and the absence of playmakers on defense.
In the regular season, the Pats ran the ball about 28 times per game and put it in the air about 33 times. In each of the last three playoff losses, the Pats had a 2:1 pass:rush ratio. And it’s not like the running game has been terribly inefficient in those games either. If the opposing team knows that 65-70 percent of your plays will be passes, playing defense becomes a whole lot easier. And if you’re not sustaining drives and taking time off the clock, you’re exposing your defense to an extra possession or two that can create problems. The Super Bowl teams at the beginning of the decade had excellent balance on offense and championship-caliber defense. The Patriots need that more than they need a new running back or wide receiver.
Derek: Do they NEED a playmaker to win a championship? No. You take away Brady’s awful interception, Alge Crumpler’s dropped TD, or a simple defensive stop once the Patriots had cut the lead to three, and the Patriots probably beat the Jets, knock off Pittsburgh, and are facing Green Bay in Dallas. I don’t think a big-time running back or receiver prevents those errors. This was a championship-caliber team that the Patriots fielded this year that was done in by bad mistakes. If the Pats can improve their defense this off-season, they are going to be a very scary team in 2011.
That being said, if the right opportunity presented itself to grab the right kind of play-maker, I think the Patriots should definitely go for it. If, say, Larry Fitzgerald could be had for a handful of picks, or if Ingram is available as a power back at the #28 pick, then the Patriots should make a move. I wouldn’t try to force things with a declining vet like Ochocinco. I might consider giving Moss a shot if he can be signed for a one-year deal on the cheap, though.
Overall, the Patriots were not a team that had much difficulty scoring points. When they do, however, the defense needs to step things up and not have the big lapses like the Asante Samuel whiffed INT in Super Bowl XLII, the back-breaking Ray Rice run to begin the playoff game against the Ravens, and the killer 58-yard catch and run by Cotchery in the 4th quarter against the Jets.
Rick: Yes, I think they need to add a playmaker at wide receiver. I did not wish for Randy Moss to come back, but New England needs that downfield threat going forward. Some guys I would like the Patriots to look at in the offseason would be through a trade for Steve Smith or signing Chad Johnson or Braylon Edwards to small contracts to keep that motivation going. Other than AJ Green, I can’t see New England going to the draft for an impact wide receiver.
At running back, I think New England is set with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead for the future. If they look at another running back, they don’t need the impact running back, but Belichick can find a serviceable running back late in the draft or an undrafted free agent like he always does.