New England Patriots: Release of Aaron Hernandez Signals End of AFC East Dominance
The New England Patriots have had a very difficult off season. First, they lost Wes Welker to free agency and that was soon followed by a series of surgeries for standout knucklehead tight end Rob Gronkowski.
That was just the beginning.
The off season hit an all-time low when tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with six counts to include murder. Unless you have been living under a rock, the Hernandez story has been well documented.
Hernandez was arrested this week and charged with the first-degree murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semipro football player whose body was found in an industrial park about a mile from the former New England Patriots tight end’s home. The Patriots acted quickly and released the troubled tight end within minutes parting ways in under two hours.
New England Patriots Odds: The odds for the Patriots to win the AFC East (-400) could easily change with this recent turn of events. The Patriots also have favorable odds to win the AFC (+300) and to win the Super Bowl (+800) and if you think the Patriots will still do well I would bet on them here to get the best odds.
This is the exclamation point on an off season that will completely transform the Patriots offense.
Many assume as long as Tom Brady is under center the offense will be fine, however that will not be the case. It is not necessarily the loss of Hernandez that will hurt as much as the overall loss of all the key pieces on offense from a season ago. If Gronkowski is not in the opening day lineup the Patriots will not have one receiver in the game that has ever caught a pass from Brady in the regular season. This is a big deal.
Danny Amendola will be the go-to-guy in the slot and will get double teams without another premier pass catcher. The often injured Amendola will be lucky to last the season. This leads to an adjustment that will be obvious from day one and allow other teams to attack Brady with pressure.
As WEEI pointed out, the Patriots may also change their offensive scheme. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Patriots open the 2013 season with a run-heavy scheme while the disparate elements of the New England passing game work to find a proper chemistry.An underrated backfield consisting of Stevan Ridley, Leon Washington, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen could prove to be a big asset out of the gate.[yop_poll id=”27″]
The Patriots will be far more predictable in 2013 than they were in 2011 or 2012 because of the loss of Hernandez. On running downs, the Patriots will need to employ a tight end, and in passing downs a third wide receiver will need to be brought in. New England will automatically have to show their hand more in 2013.
The Patriots will have a big learning curve heading into this season and the do not have the defense to overcome for these problems. Brady will need some time to adjust to the new players and while that adjustment is taking place the Patriots defense will be under extreme pressure. The Patriots defense struggled a season ago and they will also need time to adjust which will make this team vulnerable to start the 2013 NFL season.
While it is understandable that Patriot fans will trust in coach Bill Belichick and Brady to get the job done, this will take more work and time than normal.
This leaves the door open for another team in the AFC East to win the division, most notably the Miami Dolphins. The New York Jets are in self-destruct mode and the Buffalo Bills are in rebuild mode, but the Dolphins are ready to win now.
The odds for every team to win the AFC East can be found HERE. Currently at BetOnline, the Dolphins are listed at (+450) to win the AFC East. With all of the turmoil surrounding this team along with the turnover the Patriots are in jeopardy of losing their stranglehold on the AFC East. It is just a question of which team will stand up to dethrone the Pats and win the East.
The Dolphins are that team ready to make the move and they are ready to answer the call.
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