Patriots overview: will they reach their full potential this season?

Mike Kelley, Sports Columnist

The New England Patriots have had many high points and low points so far in the 2012-2013 season. At a little more than the half way point of the season, the Patriots find themselves in first place in the AFC east with a six and three record.

This place in the standings has been a combination of weak play by the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, and the ability of the Patriots to deliver in clutch situations. The Patriots are in great standings in the NFL right now, but must improve several aspects of their game if they want to go deep into the post season.

Tom Brady has been outstanding, as usual, as quarterback for the Patriots so far this season. Brady currently has 16 passing touchdowns and has thrown only 3 interceptions. Brady has passed for an amazing 2,408 yards and has a pass completion percentage of 65.3%.

Brady also provides veteran leadership for the Patriots, and has proven that he can be counted on in situations when the game is on the line. His veteran leadership and tremendous skill were in full force in seven when Brady lead the Patriots down the field against the rival New York Jets to force overtime and eventually a comeback victory. In that game, Brady set the tone offensively as he threw for 259 yards against a tough Jets’ defense.

New England’s rushing game has also been outstanding thus far in the 2012-2013 season. Running back Stevan Ridley has been extremely impressive, as he has rushed for 716 yards and has 5 rushing touchdowns. Ridley has been very consistent, and is currently averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

Brandon Bolden has also been a surprising addition to the Patriots’ running game this season. Currently, Bolden has rushed for 234 yards and has 2 rushing touchdowns. However, Bolden is currently serving a 4 game suspension after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, and violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Bolden has let the team down, and if the Patriots want to be successful, they must be disciplined and abide by the league’s rules.

One glaring problem facing the Patriots this season has been their defensive secondary. The cornerbacks and safeties on the Patriots have given up many plays in long yardage situations, giving the opposing teams opportunities to win.

Hopefully, the acquisition of star cornerback Aqib Talib of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will help jump start the secondary for the remainder of the season. Talib has had a troubled past prior to coming to Foxboro, but hopefully has matured with age in the NFL.

Although the Patriots have not lived up to their full potential this season, they are still in first place and have an excellent chance of making the playoffs. The acquisition of Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay shows that the front office of the organization is concerned about fixing the problem of the secondary, and wants to improve for future games.

The offense has been excellent and has shown that they can perform in clutch situations. With the veteran leadership and talent of Tom Brady as quarterback, and the leadership of future hall of fame coach Bill Bellichick, the Patriots should be considered amongst the favorites to return to the Super Bowl and win the NFL championship.