It took until Week 19, but the 2012 Patriots are finally fully healthy and have all their pieces in place to make a serious run at the Lombardi.
Let’s begin on the offensive side of the ball. Coming out of training camp it appeared the Pats were ready to take their two tight end offense to a new level. Two incredibly diverse tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez would enable to them to seamlessly shift into whatever offense best took advantage of the look the defense presented them.
Want to play dime? They can power run it down your throat. Want to stick to your base? They can spread you out and pick you apart.
The cherry on top was how brutally fast they could execute the no huddle.
It looked like a new generation of offensive football would be born with the 2012 Patriots but due to injuries, starting with Hernandez going down in Week 2, it never came to full fruition.
We still saw glimpses of what the Pats were capable of, with the Week 5 demolition of the Broncos standing out as the biggest example.
But with Gronkowski and Hernandez only healthy and on the field at the same time for a handful of games they really only scratched the surface.
On defense the Patriots have had better health down the stretch, but had to juggle plenty of different players in and out of the lineup in the middle of the season.
Luckily everyone has returned to the practice field this week, giving the Patriots full health on both sides of the ball for the most important time of year.
The mid-season juggling of all the different defenders will give the Pats a number of options in the playoffs. Everyone assumes Devin McCourty will be at safety but the Pats have the depth to move him wherever they want.
I expect we’ll see some defensive personnel packages this weekend that were not seen all season. And with all their pass rushers back, the Pats should be able to attack the Texans with just four defenders instead of blitzing the hell out of him like they did last time.
The Patriots are so diverse, especially on defense, and now with numerous players getting experience all over the place it will give them limitless options to confuse the opposing offense.
And if Gronkowski is fully healthy we might just finally see what we expected out of the Patriots offense: a lightning fast offense that will attack your weakness before you know what is happening.
The timing of if all has come at the perfect time of year, and the Patriots look more deep and healthy than they ever have going into a playoff run. The potential is there, they just have to put it all together for three games.