I don’t blame you for being excited about the upcoming Patriots season. The Pats have a defense that will keep opposing offensive coordinators up at night. Darrelle Revis is playing to restore his reputation and to earn a big-money contract. His presence will make Chandler Jones a greater threat to opposing quarterbacks. Furthermore, Jerrod Mayo is back and, boy, did the Pats miss him. Mayo’s return will allow Dont’a Hightower to make plays.
However, I cannot say the same about the offense. On that side of the ball, I'm worried.
Listen, this isn't about Tom Brady. He’s great and we all know it. But Tom is only half of the passing-game equation. Who'll be on the other end of Brady’s throws?
My good buddy and star of Patriots Football Weekly, Paul Perillo, reported that all signs point to a Rob Gronkowski return in Week 1. Paul's a great reporter and there's no doubt he's right. However, I'm worried about Gronk’s boss. No, not Bill Belichick or even Bob Kraft. I'm worried about Gordie. Gronk’s dad. If Gordie hasn't given the okay, there's no way Gronk will go in Week 1.
How important is Gronkowski to this season’s offense? As important as Brady. No, I didn't say more important; I said as important. Regardless, I'm sure TB12 honks will get on me for that. But, it’s true.
Without Gronk, this passing offense is screwed. So even if he is there Week 1, let’s hope and pray he's also playing Week 2 through the playoffs. Gronk has missed 14 games over the last two seasons.
Julian Edelman had a great season last year with 105 catches for 1,056 yards. But he can’t be your only weapon next season. Danny Amendola has lost the trust of Brady and is the ultimate injury-prone player. Second-year men like Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins remain unproven. Newcomer Brandon Lafell caught 49 balls for 627 yards and 5 touchdowns last year for Carolina over 16 games. Okay numbers, but he's not a major threat.
The one player who can ease my concern is Shane Vereen. In eight games he had 47 catches. But, like Gronk, this guy has had trouble staying on the field.
Look, I may be pleasantly surprised and Gronk, Vereen and Edelman may prove to be options Brady can depend on week in and week out.
I'll just sleep better when I see it happen.