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Sunday column: Pats, Dolphins still racing

The offseason is supposed to be the down time, the off time. Hence the term offseason. But the NFL knows no offseason, as the competition between teams rages during free agency, the draft, conditioning programs and training camps.

At least that's how I see it.

The offseason determines, in part, what results teams get during the regular-season. And that's why my column in Sunday's Miami Herald looks at where the top two teams in the AFC East stand.

Understand the column looks at a snapshot in time. And that time is right now. It looks at the Dolphins and Patriots as they stand today. You should know the standings can change as the offseason wears on and eventually as the regular season begins -- it's like knowing what the score is five minutes into a game's first quarter.

And today, as we look at the Dolphins and Patriots, I see the team that finished behind the Dolphins in the AFC East as slightly better than Miami now. Yes, I think the Patriots are ahead of the Dolphins right now.

The column outlines the reasons I see New England as having pulled ahead of Miami for the moment. It shouldn't surprise anyone to note one major reason is named Tom Brady and his apparent on-schedule return from last season's knee injury.

You might ask why I locked in on only the Dolphins and Patriots? Well, because the Dolphins finished first in the division last season and their closest, most dangerous challenger was, and remains, New England. While the Bills and Jets have made significant moves this offseason, frankly, I don't think anyone would argue Miami and New England remain the teams to beat.

And as I look at it today, the Patriots are the team to beat moreso than Miami.

I'm sure most of you, being Dolphins fans, will be unable to provide a dispassionate view of the issue. But some of you in the past have been able to be quite analytical in your view of teams, players, and the NFL reality. So I expect a good exchange and healthy debate in the comments section.

["The Patriots suck" is not stuff of healthy debate, OK?]

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I think you are right Armando, the Patriots are better right now. This Dolphins regime has done an outstanding job of improving the roster, but they have only had one and a half offseasons to fix the mess created the last 7 years by Wannstadt, Saban, Mueller, and Cameron. You cant expect them to catch an organization that has been run well for almost a decade in one and half offseasons.

I'd say the Pats are more than slightly ahead right now. The key phrase being "right now". The brain drain on the Pats, with Pioli and McDaniels the latest to leave, probably won't have much of an effect this season, but it will start showing up later on. Remember, it took Wanny more than one year to wreck things here. I expect the Fins to take a step back this year, as last year was probably Penny's career year and there will be some growing pains, but looking at this roster, we are two good drafts away from being really, really good IMO. I also think that by the time this roster is ready to win, Henne will be the fully prepared starting QB and will have some experienced but young WR's to throw to in Bess, Ginn, Camarillo and possibly London and a draft pick.
Everything really needs to be about 2010 more than 2009 IMO...but I do see 2009 as the Pats' last stand. The team is aging and losing Pioli is going to be a huge, huge blow IMO that won't start showing up until next season.

I hope the regime continues to take the approach that they are still in the middle of rebuilding the franchise. For example, if the value isnt there on the first day of the draft at WR, taking two linebackers and a corner is OK. I think (and hope) that they wont make decisions based on trying to win the super bowl this year, but that they continue to build towards 2010. It's ok to spend the first 3 rounds of the draft making the defense better. I think thats more pressing than getting another young WR.

Yes, the Patriots are better on paper right now. But of course that doesn't mean they will definitely be better once the actual games are played. If Brady goes down again or even if he plays but is not 100%, for example, the equation changes drastically.

That said, it seems obvious that our front office is focused on future seaons, and not so much the upcoming season. While they want to field a competitive team, they have not let last year’s shocking AFC east title go to their heads. They are still in rebuilding mode and are not willing to blow big money on a few over-priced free agents. Rather, they will continue to build through the draft and will give the young guys they bring in a chance to play and get experience. I agree with their strategy. We want a strong team for years to come, and if that means a set-back in our record this year, so be it. It is a certainty that next year’s team will be light years better than the team Parcells inherited.

Let's not forget that the Patriots next year will be only one season removed from nearly going perfect. With the signings of Bodden and Springs, coupled with up and coming young safeties in Meriweather and Sanders, their secondary will be drastically improved. Their defensive line rotation is one of the best in football. With Mayo they have added a young stud to their line-backing core.

Of course the heart beat of this team follows the play of Tom Brady. If he is back and plays consistent, the offense will be pouring on the points again.

To the poster above that said that this may be the Patriots last stand - wrong. Have you looked at the draft? With one first and three seconds the Patriots are one good draft from completely retooling for a next wave of championships. That last line pains me to write, but that is what the Patriots have remarkably done. They've added some nice veteran pieces and will continue replacing older pieces with some young studs via the next two drafts.

If Tom Brady cannot return to form, the Patriots will not win more championships. If he does, the young Dolphins will be competing against a Brady led Patriots in the back-end of his career, or for the next 5-7 years.

Let's not forget Buffalo as well. This is a team that has a long of nice young talent and a healthy Trent Edwards season away from double digit victories next year.

re: the "last stand" comment; yes, the Pats have extra picks this year. But my point is that they no longer have Scott Pioli around having input on those picks. They may use them well; they may not. But they keep losing coordinators who have helped them to Super Bowls and now they've lost the key personnel man who helped them to the Super Bowls.

Not sure the Pats are ahead.

Brady's return to health is not a sure bet and his offensive coordinator is gone.

Am I scared of Fred Taylor? Hmm. Less than I was of LaMont Jordan.

Additionally, off the field, the Pats lost arguably the most important man on the team- Scott Pioli.

I do lament the loss of Andre Goodman, but I applaud the Dolphins for seemingly having a plan and sticking to it. God knows that hasn't happened since Don Shula.

If we could get Torry Holt at a fair price, I would be happier.

The Dolphins have a 1st and two 2nd rounders so the Patriots advantage there is not that great. Remember, just because they have those picks does not guarantee a future All-Pro will be drafted.

Lastly, the current Dolphins front office had a proven history when they joined the club. One AFC East Championship later proves we need not worry about the Patriots and have faith that we are headed in the right direction. Parcells, Ireland and Sparano have earned that trust like no one since 1995.

Good article Mando. As good as Parcells & Co. are, it seems like they're asleep at the wheel sometimes. They get Springs and Bodden and we get Green....WTF?

The Patriots still suck.

The Miami Dolphins are building back toward elite team status as the New England Patriots slowly turn back into the Patsies they were for so many years.Miami or New England will probably be in the penthouse of the AFC East this season.If its NE they will just be visiting,looks like Miami is going to get a long term lease.

Yeah, last year, I believe the Pats were a better team on paper too. Look how that turned out. I never would have traded Cassel if I was New England; not until I saw Brady perform at 100%. Hey, I might have traded Brady?

after deep thinking and research it's not even close as long as Brady can just do 40 percent of what he can do that's better than Penne and Henne put togather.

I don't think any one (much less Mando) needs to be reminded that the games are not won and lost in the offseason. If that were the case, the Jets and Redskins would surely be playing for the Super Bowl each year.

In case you didn't see it, the Patriots were given the best odds to win next year's Super Bowl immediately after the Steelers won this year's. That says what everyone already knows: the Patriots will always be the team to beat as long as Belichick and Brady are at the helm. So I don't think we should necessarily sweat their pickup of Bodden, Springs or Galloway.

On the otherhand, they've had a severe brain drain over the years, and have lost two key leaders (izzo and vrabel), and harrison may not be coming back. Defensively I'd say they took a step back. Now watch them sign an underachieving Peppers to a mega-contract...

So they have issues too, but as someone pointed out above - they are year removed from a 16-0 season, and we are a year removed from a 1-15 season, so us not getting Bodden or Springs or Galloway is fairly insiginficant.

this just across the wire. the pats just signed joey galloway...god help this secondary next year

Armando,

I gotta disagree with you here and not just because I'm a dolphins fan. Yes the Pats get a boost from Tom Brady returning, but as a good of a QB as he is, his knee will continue to be a question mark until he proves otherwise on the field. In the offseason, the Patriots, somehow, have gotten even older with the signings of Fred Taylor, Shaun Springs, and Joey Galloway. Also, even though they freed up a ton of cap room and got an early draft pick, I think the Pats got ripped off in the Cassel Trade. It seems like Scott Pioli might have been the real brains behind their front office.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Pats will be a good team this year and there will be a strong competition for the AFC East. But I think The Phins are about even with the Pats and that the two teams are headed in opposite directions. The Pats are getting older and less talented and the Dolphins are getting younger and more talented...

Lee,

Joey Galloway is 37 and only had 13 catches for 138 yards last year... why does that scare you so bad?????

there's some thing in the water in new england cause once any old player sign with them all of the sudden he becomes young and very good again like Joey Galloway is going to be.

You get paid for this insight? You mean a team that finished 11-5, just like us and gets the best player in football(Brady) back is better than us? Wow! Thank you for the insight. Can we hear something we all care about, like poopie in my pants, or the possibility of signing Holt or trading for Cutler or inside information on the draft?

The problem with the media is that they want to always pick winners and losers in situations where winners and losers cannot be determined. Winners and losers in offseason free agent pickups, like the draft, will be determined on the field. I am not that impressed with what the Patriots have done, although I think Bodden was a good move because of his age. On the other hand, I think Grove is a good move for the Dolphins because even if he is not better than Satele they would be no better than last year (okay but not great). Again, time will tell. Picking winners and losers or who is doing better at this moment is a game for fools.

Captain Obvious. it's obvious that C.Obvious doesn't know that armando trying to help his readers with more info and views about other teams this way they get more topics to talk about and learn from his contacts with other media people.

After deep thinking i can pick a winner and a loser next year.
dolphins will be a winner and when i say winner i mean reality record of
10-6
the loser will be jets with 5-11
the clear winner .......pats at 12-4.....LOL LOL

I don't know Mando... the Pats are a REALLY old team, I also question Brady's ability to be the same QB he was before the injury. The Pats OBVIOUSLY think he's going to be the same old Tom, but no one will really know until he plays.

And I think the Fins investment this offseason in the O-line puts them ahead of the Pats so far.

I think it is wrong to just mention Brady being one of the biggest reasons they are slightly ahead. They had some big free agent signings including Fred Taylor, Leigh Bodden, Shawn Springs, and accumulated early draft picks for essentially nothing. With Mayo stepping up after his great rook season they are a team that is going into the draft with barely any holes... Brady in my opinion played amazing 2007. Cassel played pretty good too. Who knows whether it will make a difference or maybe hurt them. Brady's greatness won't last forever and after all those surgeries who is to say he will be back to form. Chad Pennington finshed last year on top in ratings in the AFC East. won the AFC East and went uninjured the entire season with Miami's workout program and an even more dire need to shine in his last few seasons. I believe Chad P puts The Dolphins slightly ahead of any team in the AFC East. He will come out this year stronger and more confident in his team. What was our record in the remaining half of the season last year????

Mando,

Why don't you mention the acquisition of Pace in your Sunday column? Of course the Pats are ahead of us, as a writer correctly mentioned up above. They've been read terrific for a decade and we've finally had someone with a clue for about 18 months. But to not acknowledge Pace is not giving the team any credit for this signing.

Pats are cheap cheaters why not bash on the G@Yest team in sports period. aren't they the team with the head coach that video taped other team footage for game calling... they hurt the NFL like steroids hurt baseball

Edit the above post. I meant to say Cameron Wake, not Pace.

The Pat should be better. Remember Mando, the Dolphins are still in a building process. The reason the finished first in the East was due to the softest schedule in the league. They will be getting a much tougher one to tackle which is why building through the draft is key. I love the barley made a move in free agnecy. Making those kinds of moves get you a 1-15 season. Two more years and there will be no question about who is better. Dolphins forever baby! MARINO IS GOD.

Hey Armando,

I agree the patriots did a little better in the offseason moves, except if the dolphins pick up Samari Rolle (spelling?) who just got cut from Baltimore. Why aren't they going after this guy? He's got to be an upgrade from Green and it gives them some time to develop a high draft cornerback. What do you think?

pats just signed Joey Galloway too,
Why don't we sign Holt??? he has plenty left in the tank

Where you miss the ball is Scott Pioli. Losing coaches in one thing. To lose one of the preeminent talent evaluators of the time is another. Losing coaches doesn't mean disaster. Neither did losing a QB, apparently. The issue is replenishing players. It remains to be seen if Belichick can. I for one don't care for some of his long in the tooth additions. Springs -- come on. Sure he's adequate, but his best days are past. Can the current regime mine free agency and the draft like they did with Pioli. I for one don't think so -- his leaving is the beginning of the end.

Patriots suck!

None of the Patriot acquisitions concern me. They were an old broken down team before and Shawn Springs and Fred Taylor doesn't make them younger or more resilient.

I agree with Captain Obvious. I wouldn't mind the lack of any new info if the opinion coming out of the column was interesting or well executed. Don't you guys get tired of Mando talking down to you in everything he writes, too? And "Tuna Helper"? Not funny.

-- Bebo

I do Agree with one of the writers the pats will be visiting the penthouse probably for the next year or two but after that is miami long term lease,pats too old to stand time

The way I see it is the Patsies were already ahead of us. The Phins are still a rebuilding team. There are still several talent holes that need to be filled. Last year's record is the result of:
1. Brady getting injured
2. The Dolphins surprising superior coaching

What we all need to be excited about is the fact that only 1 year post 1-15, the Dolphins can now be realistically compared to the Patsies. Think about it. From laughing stock of the NFL to legitimate contenders in 1 year. It's only going to get better from here on out.
I appluad The Tuna and company for having a plan and sticking to it. Not giving in to media and fan presure. We won't truley know if this plan will work for at least 3 years. So far, the results have been promising. Promising enough that I renewed mt season tickets and tickets sales so far have increased noticably.

I agree with (Brad) the dolphins should pick Samari Rolle he is a good proven veteran cornerback that way they go to the draft without reaching out for a player they probably don't want at all

I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read Armando's column because he's absolutely right. The Patriots are a better team and unless they totally screw up all their draft picks while the Dolphins hit on theirs with starters, we're not catching them.

But the one thing I would say could pull us even is if Tom Brady gets hurt again. I hope.

By the way, Capt. Obvious I think your scatalogical problems should be addressed elsewhere. You are an idiot.

The Dolphins need a Pro Bowl receiver ASAP. Torry Holt or Boldin would be two good alternatives, even Marvin Harrison is better than anything we have on the roster now..Until Miami solves its receiver corps, New England is set for division champs next year.

On Defense, why not bring back Free Agents Jason Talor and Zack Thomas for one last hurrah? That would immediately solve the depth/experience issues, and energize these Dolphins to a Super Bowl.

Armando, your timing is impeccable. The Patriots just added another receiver in Joey Galloway for what is apparently a bargain contract.

I wouldn't ordinarily be worried about a 37-year-old guy signing with a rival, but the Steelers wanted him also. And when two organizations with reputations for identifying talent go after the same guy, it tells me that guy is still dangerous.

This is not good news with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Joey Galloway on the Patriots catching passes from Tom Brady.

Tuna Helper still makes me chuckle every time Armando writes it. You should patent it Mando because that tool Omar has tried to steal it a couple of times.

Had Brady been in the line up all year the Patriots would have been ahead of our Dolphins already.

Keep in mind, we are just starting our run while they are getting old with a lot of free agency issues coming up on major players who won't be giving a hometown discount.

It is really hard for me to get concerned about a team adding Galloway (who is still quite solid) and Bodden (who couldn't stick with the defensive powerhouses in Cleveland and Detroit).

We are building for 2011 and onward.

okay its funny the PAts sign some "old" vets and they are contenders now ? did any one miss last season CAssel isnt there anymore bret Favre retired for good and chad Penn had the best season of his career "injury" free .Go teams are made throught the draft teams chases Perfection have short vision stock pile washed up players that other teams dont want. Everyone is saying we need a wide out but did only me notice that the phins were in the top ten in total offense last year with a second year player and undrafted rookie and a journeyman wide out in greg. we dont have to rush and play our rookie QB because we have penny and because we dont have a noticable free agent signing the pats are better? come on we are talking about Tom Brady who had knee surgeory not just one but multiple and he coming back to be the same brady ? i doubt it the Pats gloriy days are over they dont have McDaniels any more scott is gone and they caught Beliacheat so thats not an option. If you watch last years Dolphins teams you will see we played down to the horrible teams and play to the level of the good ones (with the exception of the last Pats game and the Raven playpff game ) so i have a feeling this is goning to be another surprising year for all the Pundits and naysayers who hopped on the Pats band wagon and hail rex ryan and buffalo for signing T.O (we know what he does to teams ) and the jets dont even have a starting QB (they sure wish they had noodle arm now). Its gonna be some a good year from the dolphins. there is asyaing that says " dont always mind the noise in the market " and "the doggs that bark the most cant always bite.
GO phins !!!!! just getting fun to watch again !!

I am not sure either team is better, even on paper. With the Phins we are gonna have to take the "wait and see aproach". Are we SURE this O-line is any BETTER than what was fielded last year? Basicaly, the way I see it the team was able to remain intact. But are they better today than they were at the end of the season? I guess we will have to "wait and see". I have my fingers crossed that Wake comes up big. The 1st three Draft Picks are gonna be huge. I say best available player.
I am not worried about the Pats. I am confident the Phins Pass rush will be much improved and they will be able to get after Brady.

Pats ahead - Miami improves - Bills loose ground - on paper the stinking jets made some good acquisitions just like last year but new coach and a very complex defensive scheme without Ray Lewis means the stinking jets will really smell foul.

If Brady goes down - and once the injuries start you never know - then Fins win division again.

Hey Armando, How dare you even mention the Pats in the same sentence as our Mighty Dolphins ;)

The Pats are definitely the team to beat in the east THIS YEAR. We were told to expect a 3 to 4 year rebuilding process and by that time when the Dolphins are young and ready to go the Pats will be old and used up. But the signings the Pats have made scream of desperation and I can supply an example from our own backyard. It was Shulas last couple of seasons with the team and Marino was just starting his decline. The Dolphins decided to bring in a bunch of players who were great in their primes but were also on the decline. They knew Shula wasn't going to be around much longer and Dannys best days were behind him so they wanted to win it all.It looked great to all of us and Dolphins fans were praising the Phins for signing these guys. Thing is those guys never came together as a team. It was a bunch of individuals on the field and there was no cohesion. The locker room was divided and if it wasn't for Marino they would've had a losing record. The older players wore down at the end of the season and the team went nowhere. Fast forward to today and Pioli is gone (in N.E.) and whoever is signing these players doesn't seem to understand the concept of team cohesion. Pioli always understood that detail and picked only the players (until Moss, he was a gamble) he felt would fit in perfectly. signing players that left other teams wondering why the Pats would bother signing them. And then they would suprise everyone and be important players in the teams system. Not superstar names, just hard working guys who were on the young side. Guys who would do anything for the team and their teammates, guys with something to prove. So it is my opinion that the Pats are changing their way of doing things and it is going to show at the end of this season and then more so in seasons to come. It is my opinion that the Pats are at the top of the hill but have started their decline and the Dolphins are wisely positioning themselves to be king of the hill.

Who's ahead of who?

Isn't that like comparing apples(Pats) and oranges(Fins)? Simply at this time its not fair to compare the two seeing how these apples have won blue ribbons over the last few years. These oranges have changed farmers and are using new seeds.

The apples with no blue ribbons since the Bellicheat scandral have reloaded their basket. Some pretty nice apples were thrown out and replaced with some polished ones. Thou older they were some mighty fine ones in the past. Keeping in mind the best apple of the bunch(Brady) has been bruised. From a far this appears to be the best basket yet filled with a few new ones a lot of old polished ones and a bright shinny one with a bruise on it.

Now to these oranges. With the new seeds these proven new farmers are using you got to think these are going to be a beautful basket of oranges. Question is when will they be ready? Are we going to be unfairly judging this years crop with the success from last year. The growing season is going to be a lot harder on this years crop.

Oranges: hardest schedule in the nfl will be a big test for these not quite ripe Fins.
Apples: 3rd hardest schedule will also be a sure test for these older Pats to stay away from the injury bug. Keep in mind they have a lot of early picks also.

Finhveavanblows is a tool and likes to get is salad tossed. He blows something all right. Lets worry about the dolphins and the long term plan.

The Patsies were a better team last year, even without Brady, but merely had a more difficult schedule. If they had ours they easily win another game or two.

I do think losing Vrabel and more staff will have somewhat of a negative impact on them, and they now have absolutely nothing behind Brady.

The Dolphins haven't really lost anything. I'm even betting they consider adding Vonnie back eventually...

Let's wait until the season officially begins before we start to judge The Fins. Everyone remembers last year right? EVERY single sports reporter and/or commentator was picking the Fins to finish dead last (one dumbass writer for the Orlando Sentinel actually picked them to go 0-16) and the Pats to win at least 13 games and then go to the Super Bowl. Well, look what happened; Brady gets hurt, the Fins come to life, and the Jets and Bills both faded fast. I'm convinced that the Fins still would have won the division and made the playoffs even if Brady didn't get hurt. Some may think I'm crazy for saying that, but Tom Brady doesn't play defense, which the Fins ran all over up there in Foxboro last year. Another factor that everyone needs to remember is the Fins caught fire late last season.

As for this offseason, I'm not going to worry too much. I have faith that Parcells and Co. know what they're doing :)

I think the Dolphins will win the Super Bowl. Ricky will run like a madman behind the new OLine and JAllen will come to form preventing T.O and Randy Moss from killing our secondary. Also, we will draft a new JT in this draft who will make immediate impact on the defense. And finally, the Trifecta will create another new offense; not the Wildcat but the Wildass offense -- no one will see it coming.

The pats moves do NOT cry desperation . The pats front office simply doesn't do that . They signed these veteran players at good deals ( not many years ) to hold the fort down while the many draft picks they have are ready. I guarantee the pats draft the very same positions of the veterens they just signed. Then when the draft picks are ready in a year or 2 , they'll simply cut the vets,

We also have to stop with the bring back thomas and taylor talk . Lets bring back A.J. duhe , bob baumhower, doug betters and john offerdahl for depth while were at it.That chapter is closed. As far as holt , you can forget it. Miami will never outbid the giants , eagles , vikings, titans , etc who are hot after his tail.

Mando,
I know its a bit off the topic but what do you think about the Phins going after Brandon Tate in the late rounds of the Draft? This guy was "the guy" at UNC before he was hurt. Everyone keeps eyeing Hakeem Nicks but Tate might be a steal.

The Pats front office was Pioli who is now gone and unless the new guy shares the same brain with Pioli things are going to change. They just gave Vrabel and Cassell away for a bag of footballs so what makes anyone think they will run things as normal? Would Pioli have given those players away for nothing, nope. Pats are on the decline and the writing's all over the wall. If it were that easy to sign vets and replace them in two years with younger players than teams that lose every year would pull out of it and some of them don't until they get new personnell like the Browns. They have a very intelligent talent evaluator now, who do the Pats have evaluating this talent that's going to take over in two years and allow them to release the 40 year old vets? It's not as easy as you would make it out to be, every player the Pats pick from now on will be more of a gamble without Pioli at the helm.

The Patriots are btter than Miami right now? Really? WOW! That is truly amazing! You mean Tom Brady is better than Penny? Moss is better than Ginn? Their OL is better than our OL? Their DLine is better than our DLine? Their Head Coach has won multiple Super Bowls this last decade and ours hasnt? Im glad somebody just figured this out because I was thinking we were better than Patriots because we were both 11-5 and we won the AFC East based on a tie breaker. I wasnt thinking that we overachieved and that they underachieved because they lost one of the most dominant QBs of all time. I really truly from the bottom of my heart felt like we had the btter team until just now. This was earth moving material, and really puts the two teams into perspective.

Yes the patriots are better on paper than the dolphins and have moved ahead of them in the offseason. What some posters here who criticize the pats and thier "old" players seem to forget is the pats have consistently used older players to thier maximum potential for a win now type attitude. The pats have also supplemented those vets with younger players by way of draft, but NE is built as a team of right now. Thier fortune with refreshing the team with vets will not last much longer, but they are still the team to beat with a healthy brady.

Personally, i think tom brady is overrated. He is a product of the system that belicheat made and its an amazing system. I honestly dont think brady does as well as he has in NE on many other teams. However, brady is on the team and a very real threat. Miami is in second right now behind NE, with buffalo then the jets. NYJ have done alot, but STILL have no QB.

Yeah Jersey I used the wrong word in "desperation". My main point is that you can't just sign a bunch of names and expect them to gel. There's a lot more that goes into building a winning franchise. Bodden played for the Lions and Browns and isn't very impressive. Springs, allthough he has good numbers is in the downslide of his career. 33 doesn't sound old but for a corner it is. And Galloway has been injured a lot toward the end of his career so as they may not be desperate signings, they're also not the smart signings the Pats used to make. They used to sign under the radar guys who didn't demand such high salaries. This allowed them to have great depth at all of their positions and an excellent special teams unit. Now they're signing older players to higher salaries and won't be able to afford quality depth. They're still the team to beat, absolutely, but they're way of doing things has certainly changed without Pioli.

That's exactly the point . The pats front office knows what they're doing and the browns front office doesn't. That's why the pats have been great for the past 10 years and the browns suk. You don't think they have someone waiting in the wings after learning from pioli ? If that's the case then miami is done after the tuna leaves Right ? Wrong they had ireland learning. Also vrabel is old and done . The pats gave him way and saved money. The pats also got the 34 th pick for a guy everyone was crying was a system qb and saved 8 mil dollars on the salary cap to boot. So please !!!

Yes they have signed veterans in the past but it was always one or two, just to round out the roster and bring in help. Now the fact that they already have aging guys all over the defense and a few unimpressive draft picks waiting to take over for them is very telling. They're just not hitting the homeruns like they used to. They already have an aging team and they are getting older by signing aging vets. They're rookies aren't tearing up the league and now their talent guru is gone. We'll see but for anyone to think that the Pats will keep this up forever is crazy. All the great ones fall and the Pats are no different.

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