Should they not make it to the Super Bowl, the Patriots will have four representatives in Orlando for this year’s Pro Bowl. Habitual Pro Bowlers Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Matt Slater were joined by the under appreciated fullback James Develin.
– Gronk is having one of the best years of his career, which may have something to do with his work with Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero. The big tight end looks healthy and is moving better than he has in years. He has 69 catches for 1084 yards and eight touchdowns, and is averaging 15.7 yards per catch, which is the third best of his career. He is also a fantastic blocking tight end, and has played a big part in New England’s success in the run game. If the Patriots didn’t have Tom Brady, Gronk would easily be the team’s MVP. He has been crucial on third down and has kept the New England offense running at an elite level in the absence of Julian Edelman.
– Matt Slater is a special teams dynamo who is a major factor in the Patriots highly successful kick off and punt coverage units. He is able to fight off opposing double teams with relative ease, and is a fantastic tackler.
– James Develin is one of the most underrated players in the league. Fullbacks never get their due, especially in an era where teams rely on bell cow backs less frequently. It’s also hard to judge a fullback because they don’t show up in the stat line. However, when watching the Patriots, it’s easy to see how much of an impact Develin has on the offense. He is a fantastic blocker, strong enough to take on defensive linemen and athletic enough to get solid blocks on linebackers. He is also able to be a weapon in the passing game, and while he is never going to be catching long balls, his ability to play as a receiver helps the Patriots disguise their play calls and confuse opposing defenses. It’s good to see Develin get an honor that he undoubtedly deserves.
– Tom Brady needs no introduction. Every time you think he’s about to fall off the cliff, he gets better and proves to everyone why he is the best quarterback in the league. Despite being 40 years old and having a down second half of the season, Tom is still leading the league in yards with 4387, and is in the top five in all other major categories including touchdowns (30), completion percentage (67.5), and QB rating (104). He had a phenomenal first half of the season, keeping the team in prime position despite having no help from his defense. While his second half hasn’t been quite as good overall, including a five game interception streak, he has performed when it matters most and has once again put his team in position to capture the number one seed in the AFC. At 40 years old, Brady is the best quarterback in the league. Not too hard to understand why everyone hates New England.
Until next time – B$