By: Brianna Pirre
To say the offseason for the New England Patriots is anything less than an A+ is a blatant lie. In all my years of following football, I don't think I've ever seen something so astounding. Of course there were some departures that made you question the method to Belichick's madness, but the newcomers quickly changed that. For the last 15 years, the Patriots have been the most dominant team in the NFL whether you like them or not. Each of the 5 Super Bowl winning rosters seems to out-do the last, and this year is no different.
There have been tons of talk already comparing the 2007 Patriots to the current 2017 team, so I feel the best way to go about this is to break it all down.
2007: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney
2017: Julien Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola
Tom Brady was gun slinging in 2007 because he had the weapons to do it with. We all know how much of a deep threat Randy Moss was, but Stallworth and Gaffney all had that range. Wes Welker as a slot receiver is more of what we're used to now with Edelman, Hogan, and Amendola. It's going to be hard to say this years receivers will be better than '07 based on numbers because they were just toying with the league that year. Randy Moss caught 23 out of Tom Brady's 50 touchdowns that year, which is a single season record I'm not sure will be broken any time soon. We all know what the tandem of Edelman, Hogan, and Amendola can do, but what's important to highlight is how the duo of Malcolm Mitchell and Brandin Cooks will bring back the long ball that Brady apparently has lost. Mitchell's sophomore season has potential to be just as, if not more impressive, than his rookie year. I can't remember seeing Brady that comfortable with a rookie, ever. What makes this all even more exciting is the fact that Tom and Cooks were connecting like crazy during mini camp.
Verdict: Despite the 2007 team being one of the greatest ever, statistically, I think 2017 takes the cake talent wise.
2007: Ben Watson, Kyle Brady
2017: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Matt Lengel
This one seems pretty easy, I don't think I have to go into too much detail. Ben Watson was the best TE on the '07 team, but since the Patriots have adapted to the double tight end offense, his numbers don't seem all that impressive. Dwayne Allen scored six touchdowns last season with Andrew Luck as his quarterback, so it makes you wonder what he and Tom Brady can do. We learned that Matt Lengel is a great backup since neither tight end could stay healthy last season. That being said... Gronk. If he can stay healthy for an entire season, he will continue to break records.
Verdict: 2017, easily.
2007: Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris
2017: James White, Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead
Maroney, Faulk, and Morris only scored a combined 9 touchdowns in 2007, mainly because the team was more than capable of getting it done through the air. In 2016, James White and Dion Lewis were two important factors on the super bowl run, especially White's unbelieveable performance in the greatest comeback ever. The addition of Mike Gillislee, who may have been the only good thing Buffalo had left after Stephon Gilmore's departure, and Rex Burkhead should add to the speed and durability already found in the backfield.
2007: Rodney Harrison, Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Randall Gay, James Sanders
2017: Malcolm Butler, Devin McCourty, Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung, Eric Rowe
I don't know if I can ever forgive the 2007 secondary for the super bowl performance. The WIDE OPEN interception that was dropped by Asante Samuel, and the dreaded helmet catch against Rodney Harrison... Almost 10 years later and it's just as painful. Aside from that game though they had a pretty good season: 13 total interceptions, one fumble recovery, and 179 tackles. However, 2017 has potential to be best in the league. Yes that means possibly better than the "No Fly Zone." Getting rid of Logan Ryan and bringing in Stephon Gilmore might mean Belichick finally found the missing piece of the puzzle. The Patriots guys only intercepted a total of 7 passes, but they also add Gilmore's 5 INT's from last season. As a whole, I am far more excited to watch these guys patrol the field than I ever was with the 2007 team.
2007: Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrable, Junior Seau, Adalius Thomas
2017: Dont'a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich, David Harris, Kyle Van Noy
This may be the only category where I'm siding with 2007. Those guys were mean, like show no mercy mean. They could do it all. 24.5 sacks on the season, with a few interceptions tossed in the mix... How can you top that? Although keeping Hightower was HUGE for this team, I don't think they have have the same amount of total talent. Now, if you could have those 2007 guys travel through time and play alongside Ninkovich and Hightower, man that would be something, but not possible.
Overall I'm a firm believer that this team is better than 2007. It may not be by much but I feel like the amount of talent that's spread throughout plus Tom Brady defying the laws of time and age, they're the best roster this organization has ever had.
Sidenote: As I sit here writing this I'm watching an NFL Network "Top 10" about the best teams to never win a super bowl... Naturally the 2007 Pats were #1. With how stacked that team was, looking at how stacked this team is now, it's super bowl or bust. If they finish the season with anything less than a sixth Lombardi, it's a disappointment. But that won't happen.