Rodney Harrison assesses Pats' future

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
1:00
PM ET
Former Patriots safety and current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison was a guest on Boston-based sports radio WEEI on Monday, speaking with the “Dennis & Callahan” show.

Harrison dissected the Seahawks' dominating performance over the Broncos in the Super Bowl and what it means for Peyton Manning's on-field reputation, before the discussion turned to the Patriots.

Harrison's thoughts on the future of the Patriots?

“One thing you kind of worry about is, 'Will the hunger and thirst still be there?' Over and over again, you continue to work hard and win a bunch of games and you fall short. It comes a point in time, internally, you have to look at yourself and say, ‘How much do these guys have left in them to continue to do that?' It's tough,” Harrison said, before touching on the number of key injuries on defense in 2013 and the need to provide quarterback Tom Brady with a downfield weapon in the passing game.

From a big-picture standpoint, Harrison shared thoughts on coach Bill Belichick's team-building approach.

“I know a lot of people are giving Bill Belichick a hard time, but to be honest with you, when you sign your two star tight ends to long-term contracts, you expect those guys to be out there and to be able to surround them with other talent,” he said. “I thought the running back position was awesome. I thought the offensive line gradually improved this year when they had some consistency in the run game. But there are certain things the system cannot overcome. You have to have the players to make plays in that system.”

Harrison didn't envision the Patriots losing by 35 points if they had matched up against the Seahawks because “they probably wouldn't have turned the ball over that much and they don't make a lot of dumb mistakes.”

Harrison also echoed thoughts similar to the assessment last offseason, noting there is one missing ingredient for the team on defense.

“I really believe, if they could get that physical, hard-hitting safety … I think that's something they need to look for,” he said. “Someone like [Seattle's] Kam Chancellor, or even not that big of a safety because it's hard to find safeties that big that can still move. But just somebody, when you come across the middle, you know you're going to get whacked.”

The Patriots seemed to agree in signing veteran safety Adrian Wilson last March, but that didn't unfold as planned.

Maybe they'll look in that direction again in 2014, or look to 2013 third-round pick Duron Harmon (6-foot, 205 pounds) to possibly fill that type of role.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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