Home > New England Patriots > 2010 biggest surprises for the New England Patriots

2010 biggest surprises for the New England Patriots

Perhaps like some people of Patriot Nation waking up each day since the Patriots lost to the Jets and seeing all the snow it seems like ground hogs day. Nothing to get you past the emptiness and still like shoveling snow – something you don’t want to have to think about…

But there is therapy in writing… so let’s start way back to the beginning of 2010 and consider some of the biggest surprises for the Pats eh? Grab your coffee or hot chocolate and stay warm.

The team had a surprising defeat in the first round of the 2009 playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens being steamrolled 33-14. (a bit of irony there after the Jets game)The Patriots defense could not stop a running attack driven to protect an injured Joe Flacco giving up an 83 yards touchdown on the first play and within 5 minutes the Patriots were down 14-0 and never recovering after that.

Offensively, the Patriots also could not protect Tom Brady with Brady also turning the ball over four times with three interceptions and a passer rating of 49.1. An embarrassing way to lose against a team they should have beaten. the game showed many weaknesses that needed to be addressed in the offseason.

The Patriots not addressing the needs of a pass rushing outside linebacker with a free agent signing or first round pick. In 2009, the Patriots needed a pass rusher as Tully Banta-Cain was the seasons sack leader and in 2010 the Patriots dropped Adalius Thomas and did not resign Derrick Burgess in the off season (Burgess was later signed by the team in training camp and released early in the 2010 season). The Patriots are still missing that dominate edge rusher and have had decent results from Rob Ninkovich and rookie Jermaine Cunningham, while Banta-Cain is no longer starting….

Cornerback as a first round pick. The Patriots has many needs on defense on the line, inside and outside linebacker, but with new contract for Leigh Bodden, no one believed a cornerback would be the first choice for the team. Belichick seems to know more than us fans, as pick Devin McCourty has been the most impressive rookie since Belichick took over the Patriots. Sorry to 2008 DROY Jerod Mayo, but McCourty is a playmaker!

Another season of injuries. Before the season could even begin starters DE Ty Warren, CB Leigh Bodden, S Brandon McGowan were out of the line-up. During the season the Patriots also lost RB Kevin Faulk, OT Nick Kaczur (he was practicing at OG to replace Logan Mankins), G Stephen Neal and K Stephen Gostkowski to IR. All these starters have been replaces and remarkably the Patriots roster has been performing well as players and in season free agent signings have provided the spark the Patriots needed to move forward. This is a little similar to the Super Bowl winning years 🙂

Bill Belichick not announcing an offense or defense coordinator. At first it was like WTF? But in my opinion it worked it also lead to the development of the defensive rookie class, but then it lead to…

The play calling of Bill O’Brien. One of the key areas of Patriot Nation anger from 2009 bleeding over into 2010 (and still a hot topic), the 2009 offense was considered one-dimensional, always running on first down, predictable, repetitive and boring. Where were the Charlie Weis trick plays? 2010 stymied a few naysayers as the team was winning, but of the 2 losses duing the regular season, fans still went after O’Brien and more so after the disappointing loss to the Jets. I can still see Belichick walking the sidelines in the 4th quarters saying to throw it as the Pats ran the ball killing the clock time they would need to perform a comeback….

Wes Welker returning from ACL/MCL surgery to start the first game of the season. Yes we can count on one foot with out toes how many times this has happened in the NFL.  But even as Welker noted during the season: you have to put your best foot forward, stay on your toes, be a good foot soldier and then not get benched for the start of the first playoff game.

Patriots trading RB Laurence Maroney and Randy Moss during the season. One was too late and the other one crazily enough happened just before it was too late. Both players could have a hard time making a roster in 2011.

The return of Deion Branch. It was a bit of a shock when I first read about the possibility, but in the end, I am glad it worked out for the Pats and Branch. I just wish he had never left to begin with then the 2006 season would have ended completely different, but hey that is water under the bridge. Welcome back Deion – I still kept your jersey thinking when I bought it you would be the next Troy Brown. Brown’s jersey is the only one that comes out during the season for my Patriot gear.

An impressive running game from two undrafted players in BenJarvis-GreenEllis and free agent Danny Woodhead. BJGE is a restricted free agent and should be re-signed, while Woodhead was given a modest 3 year contract extension. Are they the future of the running game? Not all by themselves and with Kevin Faulk, Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris alot older and free agents, the Patriots need to make a move to bring in some other veterans or via the draft.

Tom Brady not throwing an interception in seven games and BJGE not fumbling the ball during the entire 2010  season.  Very impressive and obviously Brady was paid well to start the season and as noted above BJGE hopefully can be re-signed. Brady did throw an INT versus the Jets in the playoffs. But for BJGE – no fumbles and over 1,000 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns improves the chacnes of a decent payday for the undrafted free agent.

Losing to the Cleveland Browns. Sure the Browns have as many as five coaches having been with the Patriots and a bye week to prepare, but the game reminded me of the Ravens playoff game and it wasn’t pretty. It seems as if the younger Patriots players (especially on defense) learned a valuable lesson the hard way. Since losing to the Browns, the Patriots went on to win the rest of their games  and going 14-2 and the #1 team in the AFC.

The disappointments in 2010? Julian Edelman and Darius Butler both not being able to follow-up on their impressive rookie year, Banta-Cain not even starting after receiving a big contract (I am sure the 49ers felt the same way), long snapper Jake Ingram being unsteady and being released.

A few of the known unknowns in 2010? Vince Wilfork would sign a new deal, Logan Mankins holding out, Maroney to be the same boney Maroney and also that Stephen Neal and Ty Warren would be injured and miss games….

OK – so that might not be everything, but share you thoughts on some of the surprises from the 2010 season.


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