Luckily for Nachmany Football, AFC East blogger and PatsPropaganda writer Erik Frenz decided to do an interview about the New England Patriots as the next installment in our interview series.
The Patriots are charging into 2012 as strong as ever, with two first-round picks in the upcoming draft to boot. Look for Tom Brady and New England to put up big numbers in 2012.
Anyway, to the questions:
Nachmany Football:“What were some underrated moves the Patriots made this offseason?”
Erik Frenz: “Bringing back Donte Stallworth has the potential to be a great signing for the Patriots. He is already familiar with the Patriots offense, and with Tom Brady at quarterback. He sounds truly motivated to make a bigger impact than he did last time, having tweeted shortly before the signing was made official that, ‘This time around, things will be different.’
He’s exactly what the Patriots need in terms of a speedy X receiver who can get vertical, but who also has the ability to run multiple routes.
NF: “Can you tell us the latest buzz around Brian Hoyer and do you think he can be a starter in the NFL?”
EF: “Hoyer will sign his RFA tender and remain with the Patriots, according to multiple reports.
As for whether he’s a starter, his best work has come in the preseason. The rest of his work has come in garbage time. I think he has the tools to be a starter for many teams. He’s akin to Mark Sanchez in that he’s not the kind of quarterback that’s going to make everyone around him better, but rather one who needs to have the tools around him to reach his full potential. He does, though, have the football intelligence and decision-making skills that are required to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.”
NF: “Where are the Patriots’ biggest defensive strengths and weaknesses going into 2012?”
EF: “This is tough to answer now because so much is changing, and so much else is uncertain. Mark Anderson has left. Andre Carter’s recovery from surgery is a question mark. Ras-I Dowling will return, but what will he contribute? Can Devin McCourty bounce back after a problematic 2011 season? Where will he line up?
Based on the question marks, I’d say the defensive line and the secondary are the biggest weaknesses.
At linebacker, things remain a bit more constant. Rob Ninkovich, Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo are all returning. The three combined for 238 total tackles in 2011, and have been a team at linebacker since 2010. That’s the kind of consistency you look for at the linebacker position.”
NF: “What are the safest bets for New England with the 27th and 31st overall picks?”
EF: “There is a good selection of defensive tackles available, and the Patriots could really use a disruptive force to take some of the pressure off of Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love. The big guys played a lot of snaps in 2011, and the Patriots could truly use another upper echelon talent if they want to go back to the 3-4. Kendall Reyes, Michael Brockers and Fletcher Cox are all guys that would help significantly.
The outside linebacker prospects aren’t exactly ‘safe’ picks simply because they’re all projections. Most of them played 4-3 defensive end and have the athleticism (or so teams hope) to transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker. Of those players, Courtney Upshaw is one of the safest picks simply because he already has experience lining up all over the defense. He’s a little smaller than the Patriots might like, but his experience should earn him big-time brownie points for the Patriots.”
NF: “Which Patriots do you project to see breakout campaigns from in 2012?”
EF: “Stevan Ridley strikes me as a player poised for a breakout. After a slow start in 2011, Ridley hit the ground running on the road against the Raiders and never looked back. He was a role player for most of the season, usually around five to 10 carries (and never more than 15), but with BenJarvus Green-Ellis gone, his role should increase significantly.
The only concern with Ridley is whether or not he can get treated for his fumble-itis in the offseason. He put the ball on the ground a couple of times down the stretch which got him in the doghouse rather quickly. Ridley didn’t see the field once in Super Bowl XLVI. That should serve as just the kind of motivation he needs to play his heart out in 2012.”
All in all, great analysis from Erik on the hot topic of the New England Patriots. The team is certainly primed for a big 2012.
Again, we thank Erik for coming in to do the interview and truly appreciate his time. He’s welcome back whenever he wants to come in and do another piece with us.
Look for New England to contend for another Super Bowl in 2012 as the Patriot dynasty rolls on.