Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Patriots From 1-82

Okay, to begin with I didn't know there was such a thing as ESPN Boston. I am fairly nauseated by the concept. I don't know how many other ESPN [insert city name]s there are. Suffice to say that not all of the major sports markets are covered.

But this isn't about that.

On the ESPN Boston site Mike Weiss ranked the New England Patriot roster in importance from 1-82. I thought it was a pretty cool idea even if I don't have much of an opinion of Stephen Gostkowski at #23 versus Taylor Price at #42.

A couple of things cross my mind though.

First, if Wes Welker is truly the Patriots' 2nd most important player, the team could be in trouble. Welker might be back by the beginning of the season. On the other hand he might hit the PUP and be out for the first 6 weeks. I'm sure Patriot fans will be relieved that I really don't believe that Wes Welker is their 2nd most important player.

The other thing that crosses my mind - and maybe this is a Duh! moment - is that you can really tell the prospects of a team by looking at their top 10 players. Maybe it isn't 10, maybe it is 8 or 12 but you get the point. It's great to have a special teams stud or a great punter but if either of those guys are among your 10 (or 20) most important players, your team is probably in big trouble.

So that Pat's top ten?

Tom Brady
Agreed he is their most important player. I kind of wonder if he is still their best though.
Wes Welker
Jerod Mayo
Vince Wilfork
If not Brady then Wilfork. It is hard to imagine this defense being very effective with Wilfork sidelined.
Randy Moss
Brandon Meriweather
Sebastian Vollmer
I get what Weiss is arguing. These guys probably are a bit high on production alone, particularly Vollmer. New England needs for each of these players to become stars if they are to move back into the elite.
Logan Mankins
Darius Butler
Same thing with Butler. He had an outstanding rookie year. The team really needs for him to lock down that #1 CB spot.
Tully Banta-Cain

So is this a top ten that can win a Super Bowl? I really doubt it. There are a handful of really good players but then there is another handful all of whom have to take big steps to put the team over the top. Looking at the next ten only Julian Edelman and 1st rounder Devin McCourty are young enough to also be in that category of players who might also develop, and if the team relies on Edelman it would mean that Welker is out, so no real help there.

Still, kind of a cool idea. I'm sure by midnight Chris will be hammering out the Ravens from 1-82. Hint, Chris: Flacco is #1.


  1. Very interesting.

    Ok, so after Flacco, who's #2? Boldin? One of the OT's, Oher or Gaither? A defender, Ray Lewis or Haloti Ngata or Ed Reed?

    I think rather than "most important players", it might be easier for this Ravens fan to list the team's "most pivotal players". Some guys you know what to expect from them: Ngata, say. Suggs. Matt Birk. Etc. But some guys, the season would turn based on whether they step forward or not.

    The Ravens most "pivotal" players in my mind:

    Flacco (probably includes Boldin, statistically speaking)


    "2nd corner", specifically Cary Williams + Fabian Washington + Lardarius Webb + Chris Carr. Some one or two players from that set needs to produce opposite Foxworth, for the Ravens to have a chance at a conf championship appearance. This probably should refer to 2nd and 3rd corner.

    "Pass rush": some one or two players from among Antwan Barnes / Sergio Kindle / Paul Kruger / Jameel McClain / Dannell Ellerbe / Tavares Gooden needs to produce consistent pressure opposite Suggs, for the Ravens defense to be really good.

    I don't think there's much variance for the Ravens D against the run. They're going to be good against the run no matter what. Ngata & Kelly Gregg & Ray Lewis & Suggs et al are probably more *important* defenders than the 2nd/3rd corner or the "other" pass rusher. But there's less variance with them. The variance for this D is going to come from how they handle opposing QBs and receivers.

    Likewise, Ray Rice & Oher/Grubbs/Birk/Yanda/Gaither will be able to run the football. Those guys are probably more important (esp taking the O-line as a unit) than any of the Ravens receivers. But the variance for the Ravens offense will come from how productive Flacco manages to be with Boldin/Mason/Heap et al.

  2. I'm sucked back into the Starcraft beta, so no 1-82 list for me! :-p I'm actually fairly certain I couldn't name 82 players on their roster right now. I could get most, certainly not all.

    Top ten [or whatever] though? Yeah, I can fire away at that. I'm not ranking them 1-11, but I will put them in tiers of importance.

    Joe Flacco
    Ray Lewis

    Flacco is #1 overall, I agree with that. Lewis is critical for this defense. I need to dig into this more. He's the one constand this D has had, and virtually every defender that's left has found less success than when here. The days of the Ravens D without Lewis scare me.

    Haloti Ngata
    Michael Oher
    Ray Rice
    Derrick Mason
    Terrell Suggs

    Yeah, you read that's Mason, not Boldin, that is of real importance here. Boldin is a very solid #1 receiver. Mason is an okay #1. But he should be an exceptional #2, even at age 36. The upgrade he brings over Clayton should be significant, and with a valid #2 receiving option, it should open up the entire offense significantly.

    Gaither isn't the #1 LT right now, I cannot possibly see justification for him being ranked higher than Oher. Maybe the same as the Mason argument, but Oher on the blind-side represents more criticality IMO.

    Ed Reed

    Agree, Jim, on whoever's second corner being pretty critical. Gaither's also critical of course. Reed makes a HUGE difference to that secondary when healthy. He's also likely not to be healthy for quite some time. Word is he's WALKING, not even able to run yet. And the K can/will make a big difference. Last season the Ravens K was the difference between them winning the division and not.

  3. Kolb
    Stewart Bradley

    Trent Cole
    Jamal Jackson
    Mike Patterson
    Winston Justice
    Brent Celek

    Not sure if this is top 10 or 10 most important but there you have it.

  4. Chris, your list is a little weird. Seems like a mix of my "pivotal" list and the intended "important" list.

    You've got Ray Lewis #2, who is clearly one of the most "important" players, but not "pivotal" in my sense because I don't think there's a lot of variance in his level of play. (He's certainly not unproven.) So that makes it seem like your list is in order of importance.

    On the other hand you've got the CB#2 listed higher than the #1 CB, and the #2 WR (Mason) listed higher than the #1 WR (Boldin), so that makes it seem like the list is in order of, what, variance. My idea about who's "pivotal".

    So the list is confusing.

    Stewart Bradley?

  5. Yeah, the LB who got hurt last year who was supposed to replace Dawkins as Captain, and be able to be fast enough to stop the run from MLB, and cover RBs/TEs downfield. He was the domino falling that weakened the whole D [ esp when added to BDawk leaving.]

    Watch Dallas run all over PHL for more details and NO pass all over them last year. [well NO did that to a lot but it was pretty bad showing by our D]


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