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Patriots off-season thoughts

By Ryan Hannable

With the season coming to an end a week ago today a week has passed and it is now time to think about the off-season and getting ready for the 2011 season.

- With Brady having foot surgery on Thursday some people were trying to use that as an excuse for his poor play last week. Reports from Tom E. Curran as well as Albert Breer say that this injury was dating back to even before the 2010 season began. Brady put up MVP like numbers in 2010, and Brady played on that same foot in the Jets game. So, how all of a sudden can the foot be blamed for Brady's poor play? This is just an excuse for Brady's poor play, the Jets deserve the credit. They put designed a great game plan and executed it almost perfectly. They confused Brady all game long.

- The number one priority this off-season for the Patriots should be to resign Logan Mankins. Clearly, he means everything to the offensive line. The overall play of the unit improved a great deal once he returned. He is the anchor of the line, and is one of the best guards in the league. He needs to be resigned.

- There are some questions about the offensive line. Matt Light is a free agent, and guard Stephen Neal contemplated retirement last season, and I am sure he will do the same again this year. Right tackle Nick Kaczur went in IR during this season, although his play was criticized a lot last season. Some have thought that the team should move Sebastian Vollmer to left tackle. Here is how I see the offensive line looking next season. Light will be resigned to a one or two year deal and play left tackle. Mankins will be resigned. Dan Koppen will return at center. I think Neal will retire, and his replacement Dan Connolly will take over at right guard. Vollmer will stay at right tackle, and Kaczur will be the first back up lineman.

- The running back position is also a position that will be addressed. Although the team had one of it's best running seasons in years it is still a position that needs to be addressed. Judging by his post game comments it is safe to assume that Fred Taylor will be retiring, and I would also think Sammy Morris is close to doing the same. That leaves Ben Jarvis Green Ellis, Danny Woodhead, and Kevin Faulk (if he returns from his season ending injury) on the roster next year. I would expect all three of those guys to be on the 2011 roster, but the team needs to look to add a feature back. A back that can get the majority of the carries on first and second down. They could address this through the draft, but the more likely route would be through free agency. A guy that comes to mind could be Pierre Thomas from the Saints.

- All of the Patriots wide receivers are set to return in 2011, and rookie Taylor Price will probably see more game time than he did in 2010. They still need to add a receiver that can stretch defenses. Brandon Tate has speed, but I don't think he is the answer. Chad Ochocinco has expressed interest in coming to New England, but I really cannot see that happening. There is always the slim chance that Randy Moss comes back to the Patriots for one last chance at a championship before he retires. It would take a lot to make that happen, but I would not be shocked if it did.

- The young defense will only get better with experience in 2011. I do think they need to add another defensive linemen. They will get Ty Warren back, who was on injured reserve all year, but it is still an area that needs addressing. It was very thin at times in 2010. I would suspect they look to address this need through the draft, as Belichick loves to draft defensive players early, especially linemen.

- Here are my list of needs in order for 2011: defensive line, running back, offensive line, corner back, wide receiver. Obviously this is subject to change with people retiring, how injuries play out, etc.

I will be posting periodically this off-season, and as any big news develops. Feel free to email me at ryanhannable@yahoo.com with any questions or comments. Follow me on twitter at Hannable84.

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