NFL 

Pats hot start sparks historical comparisons

Heading into their by week, the Patriots are off to a ferocious start with a three game win streak. The Patriots explosive start to the 2015 season has prompted many analysts and fans to draw comparisons to Tom Brady and the Patriot’s record-setting 2007 season. Three weeks into the season may seem premature to draw those comparisons, but that hasn’t stopped fans and commentators alike to begin to wage that debate.

First and foremost, it is imperative to understand the differences between the 2007 team and the current 2015 roster. In 2007, the Patriots genetic makeup revolved around lining up in the shotgun formation and spreading the ball around. At the center of the offensive juggernaut was the duo of Tom Brady and Randy Moss. The supporting cast consisted of Wes Welker, Troy Brown, Benjamin Watson, Kevin Faulk, Dante Stallworth, Chad Jackson, and Laurence Maroney. The Patriots thrived off of spreading defenses out and throwing bullets to the plethora of receivers and backs they carried that season. The bevy of receivers was a key component of there offensive structure during the 2007 season.

Many have alluded to the fact that the Patriots have lacked a deep threat since the aforementioned exit of Randy Moss. Although, others will make the case, that Rob Gronkowski has fulfilled the role of a viable deep threat. It is important to note that by season’s end, Gronkowski may very well play the same pivotal role Randy Moss did back in 2007.

Regarding the receiver corps, there are distinguishing differences between the two groups. In 2007, the receiving corps consisted of Moss, Welker, Brown, and Stallworth, and Jackson. This receiving corps relied on big bodied receivers, with the exception of Welker and occasionally Brown who operated from the slot. With the combination of speed and agility each receiver brought to the table, offensively the Patriots were almost indefensible throughout the 2007 season. They had the capability to defeat a team down the field or through a coordinated system of “dink-and-donk” passes.

The 2015 receiving corps presents an entirely new cast. This years’ receiving corps only has two receivers over 6’0, Brandon Lafell and Aaron Dobson. Lafell has been sidelined by offseason foot surgery and has yet to play this season. Entering his third year, their second-round draft pick in 2013, Dobson continues to struggle to find his role in the offense. His struggles have hindered his play making ability and remains as the fourth option in the Patriots passing arsenal. Although at the helm and the undisputed leader of the receiving group, is Julian Edelman. Having been targeted a league high 31 times in the first two weeks of the season; Edelman is Tom Brady’s most trusted weapon along with Gronkowski. Edelman may not be the conventional vertical deep threat, but he has established himself as a pivotal asset within the Patriots offense.

One key difference in the 2015 unit compared to its 2007 counterpart is the ability to run the ball. The surprise emergence of Dion Lewis has created a unique dynamic in the Patrick backfield. With Blount taking on the mantle of the bruiser and Dion Lewis’s elusiveness the Patriots are able to present a balanced attack. Whether by air or by ground, the Patriots have displayed a tenacious offensive attack thus far this season.

Amid all the turnover and changes over the years, there remains the teams two pillars of consistency, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm. As long as these two are remain fixtures in the Patriots Organizations, there is always an opportunity for success.

During his weekly radio show on WEEI, Tom Brady was asked about the early season comparison. In typical Brady fashion, he doesn’t relate to the comparisons to 2007 at this point, he believes it is too early to be thinking along those lines. With only three games under their belt those comparisons appear premature at this point. Ultimately, time will tell if the 2015 season will match the 2007 season. Although, the Patriots would certainly trade in a 16-0 record for an opportunity to be the last team standing when it is all said and done.

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