Lowering the Bar

Temper your expectations on the 2013 Patriots. These aren't your father's Super Bowl Champions.

Ever since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won their first Super Bowl in 2001, the expectation of greatness heading into each season has been high. However, expectations should be tempered for the 2013 edition of the New England Patriots.

When this season gets under way against Buffalo in the September 8 opener Brady will be without four of his top five receivers from last year. All world tight end Rob Gronkowski will be out for at least the first six weeks as he recovers from offseason back and forearm surgery.

Julian Edelman (Kevin Saleeba/Patriots Insider)

Julian Edelman, the only returning receiver from a year ago, will have to prove he can stay on the field after missing the second half of last season with a broken foot. Edelman has always had trouble staying on the field due to various injuries and he was even seen limping off the practice field with a possible leg injury toward the end of camp on Friday.

Danny Amendola is their key free agent replacement for Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker who left for Denver in the offseason. Amendola has also battled injuries, including a life-threatening clavicle injury where the broken bone nearly punctured his trachea and aorta. If he can stay on the field, he could prove to be an asset for Brady.

Danny Amendola (Kevin Saleeba/Patriots Insider)
Speaking of Brady, it's obvious the future Hall-of-Famer will be the key to the Patriots success or failure this season. The lack of star power catching the ball from Brady won't be the first time he's thrown to lesser talent. Less we forget the Reche Caldwell led Patriots receiving core of 2006. Brady had the Patriots on the brink of his fourth Super Bowl that year before the arrival of Randy Moss and Welker in 2007.

Along with the signing of Amendola, the Patriots look to sure up their offensive backfield by signing running backs Leon Washington and LeGarette Blount to help with 1,000 yard rusher Stevan Ridley and third year rusher Shane Vareen. Vareen will fill the void left with the departure of Danny Woodhead to free agency as a receiver out of the backfield.

It's not realistic to expect the 2013 Patriots to put up the same numbers as past teams, but don't be surprised they hold their own and surprise those who doubt Brady's ability to produce with this new cast.

Brady can't do it alone. They will need more from the defense to win games than they have in the past. The signing of Adrian Wilson and the re-signing of Aqib Talib highlight the Patriots' dedication to further improving a defense that has been the Patriots weakness in recent years. Staples to the defense such as Vince Wilfork, Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty, and Jerod Mayo will once again bolster the Patriots' defensive side of the ball as well. They should improve from last season.

With a month until the beginning of the regular season, expectations should be lower than usual for Brady and Belichick. It's too soon to call them a Super Bowl team, but playoff success is not out of the question, pending health of course.

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Patrick Coyne will be entering Boston College as a first year journalism student. He has been following the Patriots his entire life and has extensive knowledge of the team.

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