, Gloucester, MA


August 28, 2013

How vulnerable is the New England offense this season?

This amazing Patriots obsession with defense ... Bill Belichick’s expending an amazing 14 of his last 19 picks in the top two rounds of the draft on that side of the ball ... This team’s futile attempts over the past eight seasons to stop anyone on third down ...

Have these factors all brought the New England Patriots right back to 2006 again? And should Tom Brady, at 36, fear for his health and well-being?

Thursday night’s pounding in the one exhibition game that is supposed to matter — Week 3 — has to have the Pats second-guessing themselves at least a little.

Certainly, they aren’t the Jets, or the Bills or Dolphins for that matter. New England remains light years ahead of the AFC East “competition.”

But after all the movement, all the picks, all the talk of an athletically superior defense and a surgically precise offense piloted by Brady, this team looks a lot like the one the Baltimore Ravens picked apart last winter, and the one the Giants have overwhelmed twice on the game’s grandest stage.

The Detroit Lions, winners of absolutely nothing in their recent history, drove that point home successfully Thursday night.

Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and their thuggish defensive front left the Patriots’ first offensive line delirious as they ravaged Brady and pillaged the Pats’ backfield.

Just 13 days from the Sept. 9 season opener, New England’s right side of the offensive line shows some serious deficiencies. Sebastian Vollmer and veteran Will Svitek got the start over there on Thursday night.

Vollmer has shown little this summer to assure anyone that his back issues from the past two years are behind him. And Svitek, a starter of 10 games in his previous seven pro seasons, has done plenty to show why the Chiefs and Falcons used him sparingly before moving on.

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