Patriots season in-review

Posted Feb. 03, 2011 @ 11:19 a.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Overview: As great as the 14-2 regular season was, the only thing most people will remember about the 2010 Patriots is their home playoff loss to the Jets. It was an important season for the future of the franchise, though. Trading Laurence Maroney and Randy Moss allowed BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and a pair of rookie tight ends to emerge. Starting four rookies on defense gave them plenty of experience - and also areas to improve.

Team MVP: The league MVP, Tom Brady, was clearly the team MVP. With one of the league's worst defenses, Brady needed to score more points, and he answered the call, doing so with rookies and little-known backs. Brady threw for 3,900 yards, 36 TDs and just four interceptions.

Biggest surprise: When starting CB Leigh Bodden landed on injured reserve, first-round rookie Devin McCourty went from the team's third corner to a starter. As the season wore on, he went from just a starter to a lockdown corner, leading all rookies with seven interceptions and helping the Patriots lead the AFC in takeaways.

Biggest disappointment: Most of the Patriots' players overachieved, if anything, and no single player was a disappointment, but as a team, the third-down defense was very underwhelming. The young "D" was on the field too long and finished last in the league in third-down defense. As the season went along, they improved on defense but couldn't improve in stopping teams on third down.

Offseason outlook: Following the success of their 2010 draft class, hopes are high for the Patriots to bring in another good crop of rookies. Trading veterans has given them six picks in the first three rounds of April's draft. They will also have to make some decisions on some older free agents, like Matt Light and Kevin Faulk. The Pats will want to shore up a few positions that were lacking in 2010, mainly the pass rush, whether it is a defensive end or an outside linebacker. Their top priority before the draft will likely be re-signing OLG Logan Mankins and deciding what kind of contract to give Green-Ellis, a restricted free agent.