The Patriots famously, or infamously depending on your particular viewpoint, transitioned into a pass-dominant team in 2007 when Tom Brady set the NFL on fire by setting a boatload of records. The offense was historic, and every year since has seen New England led by Brady and his legion of receivers.
Perhaps until now.
The Patriots have won a lot of football games in the seven years since – including 18 in a row to start that 2007 campaign – but they haven't been able to capture that elusive fourth Super Bowl crown. During the offseason the Patriots went out and made the biggest offseason acquisition in team history by inking Darrelle Revis to a free agent deal. Bill Belichick has also spent the last several years desperately trying to rework his defense, and he currently has a handful of young first-round picks at his disposal on that side of the ball.
So, has the addition of Revis coupled with the maturation of some youngsters put the defense in a position to take the baton from Brady and lead the team in 2014?
That's what we're debating in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case. Which unit will be better for the Patriots this season, the offense or the defense?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Darrelle Revis is a transformational player who is going to take the Patriots defense to a new level in 2014. Having a shutdown corner like Revis allows a team to be more aggressive and other players to focus on making their own plays. He can either take away one side of the field or take away an opponent's top option. Either way, it makes everyone else's job a heck of a lot easier.
Beyond Revis New England gets back key veterans like Jerod Mayo and a re-energized Vince Wilfork. Then there are top returning veterans like Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich as well as budding young stars Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins. The front has the athletic potential to take it to opposing attacks, and Revis should allow that to happen.
The last time we saw Bill Belichick with a top-level corner (Ty Law) it was the backbone of New England's defense. We even witnessed it in short snippets when Aqib Talib was healthy in recent years. But Revis is better and more durable than either of those two players, meaning the results for the New England defense under the tutelage of Belichick and Matt Patricia should be both exciting and elite.
For the first time in a long time the defense could be the backbone of the Patriots success this fall.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
I certainly believe the addition of Revis will improve the defense but in today's game the offense is the key. With very few exceptions teams that don't score a boatload of points have a hard time winning when it counts. Even the Seahawks put 43 points on the board to win the Super Bowl. The restrictions against the defense make it difficult to be dominant on that side of the ball, and conversely, open up all kinds of opportunities for offenses.
Tom Brady is still one of the best in the business and he'll have Rob Gronkowski, who is THE best in the business, back and healthy. That combination will light up scoreboards and make life much easier for Revis and the rest of the defense. It will also make it easier for the offense to remain balanced by adding Stevan Ridley and the versatile Shane Vereen into the mix. In addition, Brady has a better comfort level with the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and the young receivers than he did a year ago.
It all adds up to a better and more productive offense, and anytime Brady is involved that means the offense will be the strength of the team.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.