Back with the second part of this week's "Around the AFC East."
It's time to turn our attention to the Patriots. MaPatsFan from Pats Pulpit is here to help us out:
Matty I: Much was made this off-season of New England losing Asante Samuel to free agency, and it's certainly a big loss. Then the Pats go out and sign Jason Webster and Fernando Bryant. What are your thoughts on those signings in particular? How confident are you in this secondary as it stands right now?
MaPatsFan: I think Jason and Fernando are clearly "filler" until the rookies Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite come up-to-speed. My biggest concern with our linebackers and secondary was a) age (too old and too young) and b) departure of key individuals like Samuel. We needed some experience until the young guys started to produce at an NFL level. I think those concerns have been somewhat addressed with the guys you mentioned.
Many have singled out the departure of Samuel as proof positive NE's defense is in trouble. Asante was a very impactful player and clearly a top 5 CB. Let's not forget Ellis Hobbs, though. Sure, many opposing teams targeted Hobbs as they thought they were picking the weaker of the 2 and in 2007, that was true. The last half of the regular season, starting with the Colts in game 9, Hobbs was playing with an injured groin and shoulder, both of which required post-season surgery. This may have contributed to Hobbs being burned by Plaxico Burress's SuperBowl winning touchdown, but I think he was left alone with a top 5 franchise WR.
My Take: I see MaPatsFan's point here and I have been impressed with what I've seen from Terrence Wheatley in his college highlight videos. I'm not overly impressed with Jonathan Wilhite, who wasn't even the best corner on his Auburn team. But I will respectfully disagree with MaPatsFan here about the signings of Jason Webster and Fernando Bryant. Neither of these 2 players should be a starting NFL cornerback. But odds are that one of them will start opposite of Ellis Hobbs, who I do think is underrated a bit.
Of course I realize that, as a Dolphin fan, I should be the last one talking about starting a corner who has no business being a starter (outside if Will Allen, none of the Dolphins' corners deserve to be starters in this league). But the Pats have championship aspirations but I'm not confident that this secondary will play well. Fortunately for New England, they can just outscore their opponents week in and week out.
Anyways, be sure to head over to Pats Pulpit to see my response to his question.
Back with the conclusion in a bit...