The New England Patriots will embark on trying to clinch the number one seed in the AFC playoffs this week with a game against the Dolphins in Miami. The Patriots have been bruised, battered, and beaten this season. We have a feeling that Julian Edelman will be back and ready to go come playoff time. Danny Amendola, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Sebastian Vollmer will be ready to roll in the real season as well. The Patriots have placed 20 players on injured reserve this year. Many fans and media alike have asked the question, if you could bring back one player on IR who would it be? I am asking a different question. If you could bring back one player from any of the Patriots four Super Bowl teams who would it be? Here are 10 players I wouldn’t mind on this years team. I have taken an offensive and Defensive player from each team and then added in a three time champion category. Feel free to vote in the poll below to tell me who you would like to see.
Troy Brown caught 101 balls during the 2001 season. In the Super Bowl, Brown collected six catches for 89 yards. His 23 yard catch and run on the final drive set the Patriots up in Rams territory. This year with Edelman and Amedola hobbled, Browns ability could really help the team. Brown was the ultimate Patriots player as he played all over the field. Later in his career he played defensive back for the Pats, even picking off former quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
When you think of the Patriots in Super Bowl 36, you think of Ty Law racing down the sideline after an interception on a ball intended for Isaac Bruce. The interception changed the complexion of the game, as the Patriots manhandled the Rams greatest show on turf for almost the entire game. On this years team, having Law in the secondary with Butler and Ryan along with the front seven would be special. Law has three rings with the Patriots as he was a member of all three championship teams at the beginning of the century.
Deion Branch never had a 100 catch season. He never had 1,000 yards in a season either. When it came to the big stage though, Branch was at his best. In Super Bowl 38 Branch caught 10 balls for 143 yards and a score, he followed that up the following season with 11 catches for 133 yards in Super Bowl 39. There simply was no better player when the game was on the line at that time than Branch. As with Brown, with the injuries hurting the Pats receiving group, his addition would really make the offense move. Branch was traded to the Seahawks for a first round pick before the 2006 season. He was traded back to the Patriots midway through the 2010 season and appeared in Super Bowl 46 where he caught three passes for 45 yards. Three games, 24 catches for 321 yards, the Patriots could use that production.
With all due respect for Patrick Chung, who has come a long way in his second tour of duty with the Patriots, Rodney would be amazing in this years defense. Teamed with Devin McCourty the Patriots would have the best safety duo in the league. Harrison was fierce and competitive. He brought an attitude to the team and fired people up. His enthusiasm helped mold the 2003 and 2004 Patriots. Who can forget Bill Belichick hugging Harrison and saying “I’m glad we got you”.
The Patriots sent a second round pick to the Cincinatti Bengals for the veteran running back before the 2004 draft. The Pats were rewarded that season as Dillon set a franchise record with 1635 rushing yards in 15 games. When it came time for the playoffs, Dillon ran for 292 yards in three games. He dominated the Colts in the divisional round with 144 yards on 23 carries. The Patriots running game has been dormant for most of the year. With Dillon, the Patriots would have that every down back who could take the pressure off of Brady. Ironically the new Pats running back Steven Jackson was rumored to be a player the Pats could target in the 2004 NFL Draft before the trade for Dillon.
Full Tilt Full Time, a banner that hung in the corner of the end zone in Foxboro, described the style of play that Bruschi brought to the team. A player who played all linebacker positions and was also used as a rush end earlier in his career would be great on this years team. While the Patriots have two great linebackers in Jamie Collins and Donta Hightower, there would be a place on this team for Bruschi. Bruschi would instantly give the Patriots defense a player who would just come up with the most needed play at the most needed time. Honestly who doesn’t love Tedy!
Shane Vereen wasn’t a great running back, but he was a great offensive weapon. He was vital to the Patriots game plan in Super Bowl 49. He caught 11 passes on the night and was great as usual in pass blocking. He left in the off-season and signed with the Giants. With the Patriots losing Dion Lewis to a torn ACL, having Vereen on the team would truly help with the offense. James White has done well in his place, but in a big game we know that Vereen can perform.
Revis the mercenary, was brought in on a two year deal, that was actually just a one year pack. Revis helped bring the Pats back to confetti of joy falling on them at the end of the season. He was as advertised during the season, taking on some of the best wide outs in the league and shutting them down. He signed a huge deal with the Jets in the off-season and while the Patriots are right back where they were last year, on the verge of a number one seed, you cant discount having such a player on the team. Like Law he would be great in this secondary across from Butler.
Three time champs
Matt Light protected Tom Brady’s blindside from the day Brady took the field in replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe until he retired after the 2011 season. Obviously with the injuries to the Patriots along the offensive line, Light would step right in and start at left tackle. Light started 20 career playoff games. His experience would help anchor an offensive line that has used 35 different combinations this year. Protecting Brady is the main description for a Patriots tackle, but helping set up a run game was also one of lights specialties.
When you think Patriots of the early 2000’s, how do you not think Vrabel? Vrabel was one of 17 mid-level free agents signed by the Patriots headed into the 2001 season. He made a name for himself not only on defense as a heck of a linebacker but as a goal line tight end, where he caught 10 touchdown passes on 10 catches. It was Vrabel who set up the Ty Law pick six on Kurt Warner in Super Bowl 36. Vrabel would have a spot on this or any other team as his tough, smart play would fit in well on this years defense. Vrabel is now a successful linebackers coach for the Houston Texans.
And the winner is!!!!!
The amount of great players that were left off this list is long and distinguished. Names such as Richard Seymour, Kevin Faulk, Assante Samuel, and Willie McGinest just to name a few. The Patriots of the past had a special run. In choosing what player I would bring Back to the Future for this years team, I had to think and decide what would be best for this team. My final three were Deion Branch, a solid wide out that could help move the chains. Corey Dillon, a solid running back who could gain yards and milk the clock. Matt Light, the every mans tackle that could protect Brady’s blind side from the on coming pass rush. I have chose Corey Dillon. Dillon would make such a difference in this team. Looking back at the season there is one area the Patriots could really use an upgrade and that is the running game. Since the Patriots first Super Bowl victory, only two teams have won the Super Bowl with a running game that averaged under 100 yards per game in the regular season. The teams were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2011 New York Giants. The Patriots have had issues closing out games, such as in Week 2 Buffalo Bills and the loss to the Denver Broncos. With clock killing Corey Dillon toting the rock the Patriots would have one of the most versatile offenses they ever had. Here is hoping for a long playoff run.