It certainly has been a turbulent offseason so far the New England Patriots, who the Pittsburgh Steelers will face in Week 9 of the 2013 season, and it could get even worse for them depending on what happens with tight end Aaron Hernandez as it relates to the ongoing homicide investigation that he is linked to.
The Patriots have had quite a bit of turnover on the offensive side of the ball this offseason as gone are Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Danny Woodhead, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Donte\' Stallworth. When you consider that there is a good chance that both Hernandez and fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski could very well miss some games at the start of the 2013 season, the Patriots would be missing a ton when it comes to their passing game.
The Patriots recorded 402 pass receptions as a team in 2012 and the players who were responsible for 250 them (62%) are no longer on the team. Those six players also accounted for 156 (61%) of the 256 total first down receptions, 61% of the 4,844 receiving yards and 14 of the 34 total touchdown receptions.
Should both Hernandez and Gronkowski miss any time, you can clearly see that constitutes nearly 89% loss of receiving production across the board. Now, Bill Belichick is one hell of a head coach, and Tom Brady is one hell of a quarterback, but that is a lot of production to overcome the loss of nonetheless.
Sure, the Patriots added wide receiver Danny Amendola during the offseason and acquired the injured tight end Jake Ballard off of waivers from the New York Giants last offseason, but those two players combined will only help offset some of their losses. Do any of you really think that Amendola will equal the production that Welker had in any of his six seasons with the Patriots? I don\'t.
As far as Gronkowski and Hernandez go, that tight end duo is hands down the best in the league and their presence on the field alone makes the rest of the skilled positions around them that much better because of the mismatches that they create. The loss of one or both players for any amount of time would be brutal to the Patriots offense that thrives on catching defenses with a wrong personnel grouping on the field.
Now, I\'m not going to say that the Patriots are going to miss the playoffs in 2013, as the competition that they will face within their own division is still inferior to them and not ready to challenge just yet. Brady\'s presence alone easily makes them the best team in their own division; however, the 2013 version of the Patriots is a far cry from the previous teams that they have fielded. Based on the teams that they will play this upcoming season outside of their own division, they very well could be in store for a 9-7 season if their not careful. Lucky for them, however, their first three games come against teams that were a combined 19-29 last season. Will that give them enough time to not only start the season 3-0, but get back key players in addition?
Potential Loss Of Receiving Production For The 2013 New England Patriots
|2012 TEAM TOTALS||402||633||4844||12.0||34||256|
New England Patriots 2013 Schedule
|1||Sun, Sep 8 @ 1:00 PM ET||at Buffalo Bills|
|2||Thu, Sep 12 @ 8:25 PM ET||New York Jets|
|3||Sun, Sep 22 @ 1:00 PM ET||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|4||Sun, Sep 29 @ 8:30 PM ET||at Atlanta Falcons|
|5||Sun, Oct 6 @ 1:00 PM ET||at Cincinnati Bengals|
|6||Sun, Oct 13 @ 4:25 PM ET||New Orleans Saints|
|7||Sun, Oct 20 @ 1:00 PM ET||at New York Jets|
|8||Sun, Oct 27 @ 1:00 PM ET||Miami Dolphins|
|9||Sun, Nov 3 @ 4:25 PM ET||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|11||Mon, Nov 18 @ 8:40 PM ET||at Carolina Panthers|
|12||Sun, Nov 24 @ 8:30 PM ET||Denver Broncos|
|13||Sun, Dec 1 @ 4:25 PM ET||at Houston Texans|
|14||Sun, Dec 8 @ 1:00 PM ET||Cleveland Browns|
|15||Sun, Dec 15 @ 1:00 PM ET||at Miami Dolphins|
|16||Sun, Dec 22 @ 8:30 PM ET||at Baltimore Ravens|
|17||Sun, Dec 29 @ 1:00 PM ET||Buffalo Bills|