- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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As part of their 32-team "state of the franchise" series, NFL Network shines the spotlight on each team in the NFL while highlighting some of the big issues ahead. The Patriots were featured on Friday.
Analyst Charley Casserly weighs the Patriots' big losses (Wes Welker) against some gains (Leon Washington) and says, "You still have one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game. That offense will still be productive, and most importantly, you have Bill Belichick coaching them."
Defensively, Casserly notes the return of Aqib Talib as a key move. But ...
"I think safety is a problem for them. I think corner opposite [Talib] is a problem for them. I think coverage is a big issue and I don't think their pass rush is still where it needs to be," Casserly says. "Linebacker coverage is a question. So overall, defense, this is a liability."
All that said, Casserly still sees the Patriots as a playoff team.
Analysts Heath Evans and Darren Sharper then answer the question, "Has the championship window closed for the Patriots?"