Every Patriots fan knows that as Tom Brady goes, so does the Pats offense.
The franchise quarterback is undoubtedly the most important cog in Bill Belichick‘s machine. But now that Wes Welker, Brady’s favorite target, is gone, who from New England’s stable of offensive weapons now has the most responsibility?
Opponents will certainly gameplan for Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, as the two make up the most fearsome tight end duo in the NFL. The question will be if they can get healthy (in Gronk’s case) and stay healthy enough to fulfill the lofty expectations that have been set for them.
The player that will be filling Welker’s role most directly is newcomer Danny Amendola, who came over from St. Louis soon after Welker departed for Denver. Amendola was a rising star with the Rams, but, again, his history of injuries are a cause for concern.
And let’s not forget about the running game. Though it was overshadowed by Brady’s air show, the Patriots possessed one of the league’s top rushing attacks last season, with third-year tailback Stevan Ridley at the forefront. Ridley ranked seventh in the NFL with 1,263 yards on the ground in 2012, and he’ll be Brady’s No. 1 option out of the backfield again this fall.