With all the question marks surrounding this 2006-2007 Patriots team (thinness at wide receiver, an aging linebacker corps and a new placekicker to name a few), there is one constant that will likely have more influence than anything else: the essential stability of the Belichick "system".
As the Globe's Mike Reiss aptly points out in his pre-season assessment of the team, "In all, the Patriots' offensive, defensive, and special teams systems have remained intact over the last seven years." And, it's not just any system. It's one that has delivered three Super Bowl wins. The real genius of Coach B has been his ability to find "football players" who can make the system work to its fullest potential.
So, even with one of youngest Patriots teams in years, there is every reason to believe that the system will override any youthful indiscretions. In fact, young players with the mental acuity to grasp the complexities of the "Patriot Way" are more likely to contribute. Our nomination for this year's "kid who will look like a veteran" is outside linebacker Pierre Woods--a rookie free agent who should see a lot of playing time in both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes.
All in all, it looks to us that the system will again propel this team to a legitimate shot at another ring.