We are nearly three months into the 2017 fiscal year for the National Football League. It’s safe to say we have seen plenty of player movement via free agency and trades. And in late April, a total of 253 players were selected in the NFL draft. So as teams get ready for mini-camps and OTAs, we figured it was a good time to have some fun looking (and learning) at the significant numbers – both in regards to the past and the present – for each of the 32 franchises. You can play catch-up by clicking here. Now it’s time to check out the New England Patriots.
Both the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers have reached the playoffs eight consecutive years dating back to 2009. While the Pack won Super Bowl XLV in 2010, the Pats have made three appearances in the Big Game over that span and won two titles in the past three years. Another postseason appearance by either franchise would tie the NFL record (Dallas Cowboys from 1975-83, Indianapolis Colts from 2000-10). Of course, the Patriots are also vying for a ninth consecutive division title in 2017, which would extend their own league record.
Thanks to a bevy of trades this offseason, Bill Belichick made a league-low four selections in April’s draft. Of course, thanks to deals with other clubs, the Patriots acquired tight end Dwayne Allen (Colts), wide receiver Brandin Cooks (New Orleans Saints) and defensive end Kony Ealy (Carolina Panthers). They also signed free-agents in cornerback Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo Bills) and running backs Mike Gillislee (Bills) and Rex Burkhead (Cincinnati Bengals). And speaking of the ground attack…
In 2015, the New England Patriots came within one win of defending their Super Bowl XLIX title. But the team featured a one-dimensional offense that featured quarterback Tom Brady and a ground attack that was 30th in the NFL. That changed dramatically this past season as the Pats ranked seventh in the league in rushing yards per game. Of course, much of that came from running back LeGarrette Blount. But he’s now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. What can we expect from Gillislee, Burkhead, as well as incumbents James White and Dion Lewis this season?