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Around The AFC East: New England Patriots

It's time to once again take a trip around the AFC East and focus on our division rivals.  To kick things off this week, we welcome in "MaPatsFan" frpm Pats Pulpit:

Matty I: The Patriots made a number of moves this past offseason - acquiring guys like Fred Taylor, Leigh Bodden, Shawn Springs, and Joey Galloway.  Which of these moves are you most excited for and which new Patriot will make the biggest contributions to the team in 2009?

MaPatsFan: First, let me run down the FA acquisitions I'm pretty stoked about.  From a general sense, this is classic Belichick.  He was extremely active during free agency and is a firm believer in sprinkling vets into the mix with his rookies.  One of the more interesting acquisitions has been CB Shawn Springs.  Springs and recent Bills' FA acquisition, Terrell Owens, can't seem to shake each other, and have seemingly followed each other around for eight seasons.  Coincidence?  Hoodie says no, but we'd be naive to think otherwise.

On the WR front, defenses know enough to neutralize Moss and Welker so it's important to have a third and sometimes fourth look for Brady.  I have my doubts about Joey Galloway given his age (38), but he may be able to stretch the field and, at the very least, provide a decoy for Moss.  Greg Lewis seems like a fine addition specifically for mid-field duties, ie: turning into the linebackers. 

S Tank Williams was a 2008 FA, but was IR'd in the preseason, so I'm including him here.  I have high hopes for Tank (how can you not like a guy named Tank?).  A hybrid safety/linebacker, I think he'll be the "lurker" of the defense.  He won't play a lot of snaps, but I'm looking forward to watching him play.

Another strategy is to create competition along with mentorship.  Longtime Jaguar RB Fred Taylor seems to be made for both roles, specifically for Laurence Maroney.  Maroney's been plagued with injury and confidence problems, something Taylor suffered from during his "Fragile Freddy" days.  His acquisition will give Maroney some valuable mentoring while keeping the fire lit in the competition arena.  Freddy is the acquisition I'm most excited about simply because he may provide some much needed mentoring for Laurence Maroney.  However, from a contribution standpoint, I'm not convinced he's done.  He's got a lot of downfield speed and can really dish out some punishment when called upon to do so.

My Take: First off, I'm not too sure about Tank Williams.  I liked him a lot coming out of college but he hasn't shown much.  And like Bill Parcells likes to say, "if they don't bite as puppies, they won't bite as dogs."  But I will agree with the idea that Fred Taylor is going to be the biggest contributor out of the 2009 free agency class for the Pats.  I still think he has enough left in the tank to be a solid running back in a tandem role with Laurence Maroney.

Be sure to head over to the Pulpit at some pint today to see my response to his question about how the Dolphins seemed to struggle against the weaker teams they faced in 2008.