There is just more than three weeks until the start of training camp, and the Patriots will be looking to improve upon a disappointing 8-8 season from a year ago. Throughout the next few weeks, we will take a look at the players at each position on the New England roster.
The first position we will look at is quarterback, one of the few starting spots set for the team. The main competition for roster spots here will be among the backups.
If you've been paying attention since 1993, you know the quarterback spot in New England belongs to Drew Bledsoe. There is no competition here, unless a three-time Pro Bowl player should be concerned about an adequate backup, a second-year man with zero experience or a rookie pocket passer with a decent arm.
Bledsoe started out strong in 1999, throwing 13 touchdown passes and just four interceptions in the first eight games. His quarterback rating was 91.9 or higher in six of those games, including four with at least a 104.1 rating.
However, Bledsoe's numbers fell off, and the Patriots ended the season in a 2-6 tailspin. Despite having arguably his worst season, he was still just 15 yards short of a 4,000-yard season.
This year Bledsoe will take aim at a couple team records for career passing. Already the Patriots all-time leader in both attempts (3,921) and completions (2,192), Bledsoe needs just 921 yards to pass Steve Grogan's mark of 26,886. Bledsoe also is 35 touchdown passes short of Grogan's team record of 182. With 28 touchdown passes being his best to date, Bledsoe will likely have to wait until the 2001 season to break that mark.
Veteran John Friesz is entering his second season as Bledsoe's backup. Friesz has 10 years of experience, but he saw action in just one game last year. He replaced Bledsoe with 5:25 left in Week Eight when New England was ahead 27-3 against Arizona. Friesz' only drive of the season consisted of six consecutive handoffs.
Second-year quarterback Michael Bishop is a very athletic player who is still learning the position at the pro level.
Rookie Tom Brady is a traditional pocket passer with a decent arm and big-game experience from his days at Michigan. The chance to learn under veterans Bledsoe and Friesz would be an ideal situation for him.
|Drew Bledsoe||6-5||233||8||Among the best in NFL, and by far the best in N.E.|
|John Friesz||6-4||223||11||Decent backup with 10 years of experience, but if Bledsoe is out, so is the team.|
|Michael Bishop||6-2||217||2||Loaded with a strong arm and a lot of athleticism, but media hype far exceeds skills.|
|Tom Brady||6-4||211||R||Rookie pocket passer with obvious skills who needs experience.|