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Patriots.com News Blitz - 2/9/2012

The Patriots start their offseason after Super Bowl XLVI. Which players will the Patriots sign in free agency? It’s all inside today’s edition of the Patriots.com News Blitz.

Greg A Bedard of the Boston Globe writes about the Patriots' failure to produce on offense late in the second half of their 21-17 loss in Super Bowl XLVI. Bedard gives credit to the Giants defense and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell but also cites the lack of a threat in Rob Gronkowski and lack of execution. The Patriots held a 17-12 lead with 6:37 left in the third quarter and failed to score again. Also, on a third and 11 at the Giants 44-yard line with 4:00 to play - the personnel for Brady to throw to was running back Danny Woodhead, tackle/third tight end Nate Solder, and receivers Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and Chad Ochocinco; no Rob Gronkowski and no Aaron Hernandez.

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald writes about the Patriots ability to succeed and make it to the Super Bowl during a period of transition. According to former Patriots front office man Scott Pioli "They're still in transition. They're developing players. The toughest thing to do is to win games while developing players. They're doing that. They've got a very young team, particularly on defense. They've got a number of other guys they've kinda plugged in. But the impressive part is they're developing players and winning while it's going on."

Jeff Howe of NESN.com writes about Wes Welker and his contract situation this offseason. Welker will be a free agent and is coming off a big drop in Super Bowl XLVI. The 31 year-old Welker has stated that he would like to stay in New England and the Patriots have expresses the same feelings. The Patriots will have exclusive negotiation rights with Welker until March 13, when free agency starts. They will look to either sign Welker long-term or franchise tag him. Recently the Patriots have resigned stars like Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins and Jerod Mayo.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe breaks down the Patriots roster position-by-position. Some high profile players with expiring contracts include backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk, wide receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch, offensive linemen Dan Koppen and Dan Connolly, defensive linemen Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and Kyle Love, and special teams captain Matthew Slater.

Karen Guregian of the* Boston Herald* writes about Bill Belichick's tough task to help the Patriots avoid the "hangover" that Super Bowl losing teams have faced in recent years. Since 1997 eight of the 14 teams to lose the Super Bowl did not make the playoffs and only two of the 14 teams have won a playoff game the next season. "You work toward a common goal the whole season, and when you get there, to come up a little short, it's pretty difficult to deal with,'' said former Pats safety James Sanders, who was part of the 2007 team that suffered the first crushing defeat to the Giants. "You go through the offseason, sit back and reflect on the season you just had, realizing all the ups and downs of the year, and when it comes to that last game, it definitely hurts. But after a while, you have to go back to work, and look toward next season. You definitely feel disappointed for a few weeks, but at the same time, it fuels you and encourages you and makes you eager to get the next year under way. You definitely want to get that taste out of your mouth, so you want to win the championship the following year.''

Christopher Price of WEEI.com writes about 10 storylines that the Patriots will have to face this offseason. The number one decision will be to decide how to handle the Wes Welker contract situation. Other points that will need to be addressed will be deciding on the futures of Deion Branch and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, waiting to see if offensive lineman Brian Waters returns or retires, and whether or not to keep Chad Ochocinco.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com writes about some of the memorable sounds from the Super Bowl. Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork were mic'd up for the game. Some of the most interesting quotes include Tom Brady saying, "I looked at Gronk, I looked to Wes, he dropped, then I felt him, I had no place to throw it away. I threw it over his head. I didn't want to throw an interception," after his intentional grounding on the first play for the Patriots offense. Also Brady saying, "Way to get us started, that's why I'm talking about. That's why we got you," to Chad Ochocinco after his 21-yard reception in the third quarter.

CSNNE.com writes about recent comments from linebacker Dane Fletcher on Twitter responding to Steelers players James Harrison and Ryan Clarke after their tweets about the Patriots. Harrison and Clarke both referenced "Spygate" after the Patriots Super Bowl XLVI loss and Fletcher responded with, "Hilarious how some people judge others, calling them "cheaters" when they are amongst the top in the league for dirty plays #growup"

Ricky Doyle of* NESN.com* writes about Chad Ochocinco's recent decision to change his name back to Chad Johnson. Ochocinco will be changing his name on July 4 in preparation for his upcoming wedding.

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