2010 NFL Question Marks: New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 12: Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches his players during the preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 12, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Patriots’ pass-rushing concerns.

Bill Belichick is notorious for being able to mask a defense’s weaknesses due in large part because he to his schemes. Even if a player is lacking in physical tools, as long as they do their jobs within his schemes, the Patriots are usually fine.

But a defense’s ability to generate a pass rush is something not even Belichick can scheme for. And pass rush is by far New England’s biggest weakness on defense, if not the team’s biggest weakness on a whole.

The Pats busted out their checkbooks in 2007 to sign former Ravens’ outside linebacker Adalius Thomas, who turned out to be a dud for most of his time in New England. Now he isn’t even on the roster and once again outside linebacker is an area of concern for Belichick’s Patriots.

After recording 9.5 sacks last season, Tully Banta-Cain is virtually ensured the starting right outside linebacker spot. But can he duplicate the success he had in 2009? If he can’t, then his limitations against the run will be expounded and Belichick might be left scrambling for a replacement mid-season.

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