New England Patriots Training Camp - Analyzing the Quarterbacks
Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM
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Whether you are a long-time veteran and perennial all-pro or an undrafted rookie clinging to the last string of your professional career, every single player in camp will have various goals and expectations that they will look to meet.
In the first of the Sports Central positional preview, I'm going to take a look at each of the Patriots' quarterbacks on the roster entering camp.
Tom Brady, 34, 14th season
If such a thing as a player who didn't need training camp existed, Tom Brady would be the first candidate. Not only is Brady a 13 year veteran, he is a two time All-Pro, a two time Super Bowl MVP and two time NFL MVP. However Brady understands that you need to constantly be looking to improve if you are to sustain a high level of play in the NFL. Entering this season without his mentor, the deceased Tom Martinez, Brady will need to adjust to developing his game without such a prominent figure for his success.
As an individual, Brady doesn't have a huge amount to gain from this training camp. However as a key component of an offensive machine, Brady has a huge amount of work to do to establish congruency with his offense as a whole. The Patriots offense has been somewhat reborn during the off-season as turnover has overcome the team in multiple spots.
Brady will be without BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was an important piece in the team's pass protection, and must show patience with youngster Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley. Brady has always used the running game as a complement to the Patriots' passing attack, but nonetheless, it remains a crucial part of the offense. Brady regularly audibles to the run when teams set up to shut him down, but he will be less likely to do that if he does not develop a trusting relationship with his backs.
More importantly than in the backfield, Brady needs to help his offensive line come together as a unit. Despite losing Matt Light and Logan Mankins, arguably the team's two best offensive linemen, this off-season, the Patriots still have a lot of individual talent on the offensive line. Light's replacement, Nate Solder will be slotted into the starting spot at left tackle entering his second season. Who replaces the injured Mankins is less clear however. Anyone from Dan Connolly, Marcus Cannon or Robert Gallery could be the starter. The offensive line will need to develop cohesion with each other, but also with their quarterback in camp. Brady and center Dan Koppen are the two most experienced Patriots, Brian Waters is a veteran but has not been in the Patriots system for that long, who will be expected to set the tone for the group's success.
While Brady is doing that, he also has some new toys to develop a rhythm with on the outside. Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd are expected to be important pieces in the Patriots' passing attack this year. Gaffney previously played with Brady for three years, but after some time apart they will have to work out some of the kinks while Lloyd is teaming up with his new quarterback for the first time in his career. Both players should be excellent complements to Brady and develop a good understanding over the next month or so.
Brian Hoyer, 26, 4th season
There was some talk during the off-season that Hoyer could have found a new home by this stage. Hoyer will likely remain with the team until the end of this season at least. After three training camps with the team, Hoyer has nothing to learn about the system. Hoyer will be looking to develop his individual game further in this camp while preparing himself as best possible if he is forced into action.
Pre-season could prove to be the most important time of the year for Hoyer. How he performs in the pre-season action, which he is certain to see unlike the regular season, will likely determine his value when he ultimately hits the open market. From that sense, Hoyer will want to establish good chemistry with his teammates in order to put on a show in pre-season. In a sense Hoyer must enter this training camp as an individual opposed to a teammate.
Ryan Mallet, 24, 2nd season
It's been quite some time since a rookie quarterback saw significant action in the regular season. Typically, Mallet didn't attempt a single pass during the regular season for the Patriots last year. Despite some positive showings during last season's pre-season, Mallet is far from the finished product. Much like Hoyer he will continue to develop and learn from his teammates in the background while Brady focuses on preparing for the season.
Mallet is the third quarterback so doesn't need to prepare in anticipation of being the primary backup. Instead Mallet can focus on examining the nuances and minute details of the offensive system while observing how Brady leads the team. Mallet needs to be a human sponge in training camp and take in everything he possibly can.
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