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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
How badly do Pats need WR speed?

By Mike Reiss

One of the hottest Patriots topics this offseason has been the team's wide receiver position.

Some feel strongly that the Patriots need a speedy deep threat to complement the talent already on the roster, specifically pointing to the playoff loss to the Jets as a big reason why.

Others look at the entire regular season and say the need isn't that great based on the Patriots' No. 1-scoring offense (I lean this way).

Count Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com in the first category. Prisco writes on the growing importance of speed in the NFL, and devotes a significant part of his piece to the Patriots:

"For most of last season, all we heard was how the New England Patriots didn't miss Randy Moss and his big-play ability," Prisco writes. "They rolled to an AFC East title. Tom Brady put up big numbers to win the MVP award. They didn't need speed on the outside, right?

"Then the playoffs came. Without a real deep threat, the New York Jets limited Brady and his passing attack in 28-21 victory. The longest pass play to a receiver was 16 yards. The two starting receivers averaged 8.1 and 11.6 yards per catch.

"The myth was debunked: Even with the greatest passers, you can't compensate for a lack of speed outside -- especially against teams with good corners.

"The Patriots got the best of the Jets defense during the regular season, but that was with quick throws inside. This time, the Jets took that away and there was no deep threat to overcome it. Patriots fans will say Brandon Tate is their speed threat, but until that speed becomes more productive what's the point of having it?"