It’s been over a week since the Patriots hoisted their fourth Lombardi trophy, and it still has not set in. Everything that the immortal Bill Belichick preached this season came into full effect on that beautiful Sunday night in Glendale. The slogan of the Patriots was “Do Your Job” and every single player on that roster did their job throughout the course of the illustrious 2014 season. In a two column series I will be handing out awards to players that I feel are deserving. This feature will be for players on the Patriots offense, two weeks from now will be defense.
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady
Tom Brady. There really isn’t much to say about him that hasn’t already been said in his Hall of Fame career. He’s a fierce competitor. He’s a proven winner. He’s the only guy I want playing quarterback for a team I cheer for. Tom started off slow this year due to a patchwork offensive line that took a while to gel. After week four some people were calling for rookie sensation and backup quarterback Jimmy Garappolo. Tom then proceeded to throw for 4,109 yards with 33 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Brady seemed very motivated after the week four shellacking he took at the hands of the Chiefs. I truly believe that no other quarterback in the league could have won a Super Bowl with this team this year. Tom is the master of adaptation. One week he is all about the play action. The next, he is dinking and dunking to Amendola and Edelman all game. People could argue that Rob Gronkowski deserves this award, and while he does deserve serious consideration, Tom was the mastermind behind this masterful offense.
Newcomer of the Year: Brandon Lafell
Brandon Lafell brought a true sense of professionalism to the New England Patriots this season from Carolina. His locker was next to Brady’s, and there have been many stories of the two of them working night and day together in order to perfect their crafts. Lafell set career highs in receptions and yards this season with 74 and 953, respectively. Like the rest of his team Lafell started off the season slow, being largely invisible for the first few games. It was obvious that Lafell was starting to get frustrated with such a small role in the offense. Instead of complaining, he worked harder and eventually caught a long touchdown pass against the Chiefs that turned the heads of many Patriots fans. From that game on Lafell truly earned Brady’s trust and was very clutch down the stretch of the season, including a touchdown catch in the Super Bowl. It is shrewd signings like these that help keep the Patriots at the top of the NFL year in and year out.
Unsung Hero: Shane Vereen
As much as I complained about Shane Vereen throughout the course of the year, he truly did do his job. He was a pass catching option out of the backfield. He was the definition of an all-purpose running back. He shined brightest in the Super Bowl, hauling in eleven passes for sixty four yards. He took some vicious hits from the once mighty “Legion of Boom,” but he didn’t drop a pass. Vereen on the season caught seventy passes for 591 yards along with two touchdown receptions. He was also second on the team in rushing with 391 yards and three touchdowns. Dan Connolly was in the running for most of the season for this award until he went down with an injury, and the media portrayed him as the second coming of John Hanna. That is in no way a shot at Connolly, as he was arguably the Patriots best lineman this season, he just is not the best offensive lineman in team history. That honor belongs to Hanna.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Julian Edelman in this column. He proved to be one of the toughest players in the league this season. He did anything the team asked of him, including playing receiver and returning punts. Like many of his teammates, he saved his best for last, helping win the Super Bowl by catching the game winning touchdown and shredding the once mighty “Legion of Boom”.
Those are my award winners for the 2014 Patriot Offense. Be sure to tune in for the defensive award winners for the Patriots. Until then, I will be searching for Josie who is on her vacation that is so far away.