New England Patriots came up one win short for the second year in a row at making it to the Super Bowl. They were eliminated by the Denver Broncos who eventually loss to the Seattle Seahawks. New England's offense has been led by quarterback Tom Brady for more than a decade. In 2013, the passing offense struggled all season even with Tom Brady in the lineup. They could never establish any consistency with star tight end Rob Gronkowski out for the early part of the season because of his recovery from a forearm injury. The combination of Gronkowski's recovery, then being put out for the season again with a knee injury, and having an entirely new receiving group put plenty of restraints on what New England was accustomed to doing. Brady only completed 60 percent of his passes which was his lowest percentage rate in nearly seven years. A healthy Gronkowski and better continuity between Tom Brady and his receivers could put the Patriots right back in the hunt as Super Bowl Contenders.
The running game carried New England at times last season. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen will provide a lot of scheme versatility in the back field. The defense may actually be what finally gets New England passed the AFC Championship Game and into the Super Bowl. All-Pro defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is back from a season ending injury in 2013 and will solidify the middle of the defensive front along with middle linebacker Jerod Mayo. Rob Ninkovich (8 sacks) and Chandler Jones (11.5 sacks) provide the defensive pressure off the edges. The secondary is where things will be entirely different. Look below at key additions who could help get New England back to the Super Bowl.
Darrelle Revis - cornerback
Darrelle Revis takes his talents to the northeast part of the country to play for the New England Patriots. He will give the Patriots a true shutdown corner something they have not had since Ty Law was leading the secondary. Revis is now about two years removed from his knee injury he suffered playing for the New York Jets. The combination of his high salary cap number and not knowing if he would recover fully from that injury got him shipped to Tampa Bay where he only played there one season. Now he gets a chance to play for his former rival the Patriots and coach Belicheck. Revis wants to prove he is still the best cornerback in the NFL.
Dominique Easley - defensive tackle
Dominique Easley was drafted 29th overall in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He may be a bit undersized at 6'2 and 288 pounds for a defensive tackle, but Easley is very explosive off the snap. He has the athleticism and foot quickness to be a disruptive force on the defensive line. He is surprisingly stout against the run and can penetrate gaps with his quick first step. Easley will have a great mentor in Vince Wilfork who should help him transition to the NFL.
Brandon Browner - cornerback
Brandon Browner gives the Patriots another big physical corner to pair with Darrelle Revis. Browner was signed in free agency after the Seattle Seahawks decided not to resign him. He has enough speed to cover the boundaries while also having the size to match up inside against tight ends and slot receivers. It will be interesting to see just how the Patriots decide to use him on defense.
Patrick Chung - safety
Patrick Chung is back in familiar territory with the Patriots. He played his first four seasons in New England then played last year in Philadelphia. Veteran Adrian Wilson is not back this year so having Chung back helps with his familiarity with the defense. Playing in a secondary with Revis, Browner, and Devin McCourty will give Chung the opportunity to play closer to the line of scrimmage and help with run support. If he stays healthy, Chung could have one of his best seasons playing safety.