If you could bring back one player back off IR for the Patriots playoff run, who would it be?
Raj: I think this is a no-brainer..Tommy Kelly of course! Just kidding. It has to be Rob Gronkowski. Because honestly, the Pats defense could screw up all they want but as long as they show up somewhat, the offense can take care of the rest. We've seen Edelman, Amendola, and others step up but Gronk is a huge part of this offense. With him out, the job becomes tougher for Brady. Just look at his confidence throwing the ball when Gronk is on the field. I am gonna miss his presence in the playoffs. But I still think the Patriots can and will do work in the playoffs without Gronk.
Rick: The obvious answer to this question is Rob Gronkowski. However, I think its Vince Wilfork. The Patriots could use his leadership on the defensive line despite the success of the rotation currently at defensive line. The issue I see for the Patriots’ defense going forward is the run defense. If New England were to face Denver in the AFC Championship game, you have to stop the run. Knowshon Moreno for the Broncos ran for over 200 yards in the first meeting between these two teams. New England’s front seven could wear down in the 2nd half as we saw more runs from C.J Spiller and Fred Jackson reach the second level. Players like Moreno, Bernard, and Charles could kill clock and give a Patriots’ offense in transition fewer possessions to work with. Wilfork will be missed in the playoffs for his run defense prowess and his proven ability to free up a fellow defender to make a big play.
Derek: On offense, it's cleary Rob Gronkowski. On defense, Vince Wilfork is the obvious choice. However, if I were forced to pick only one, I would go with the Gronk. My biggest concern for this Patriots team is that they'll stall out on offense. After Edelman and Amendola, there are no real reliable targets for Tom Brady on offense. Gronkowski adds another dimension to the offense, both as a blocker and a receiver. He's a huge red zone target that opens things up big-time when the field gets short. Again, you can't go wrong with Vince, but the Patriots have managed amazingly well without him as guys like Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, and Sealver Siliga have stepped up big-time in his absence. There's still a gaping hole at tight end where Gronkowski used to be, and unfortunately, that hole won't get filled this post-season.