Top 10 New England Patriots in NFL History
They've had their most successful seasons in the past 15 years. Today, I rank the top 10 New England Patriots of all time.
10. Ben Coates
He was the offenses most productive player for years.
A fifth round pick in 1991, Ben Coates came out of no where to make the team. With the arrival of head coach Bill Parcells in 1993, the offense changed to show an increased reliance on the tight end. In 1994, he caught 96 passes, which was the most ever for a tight end to that point, for 1,174 yards receiving, and seven touchdowns. In 1996, Coates had 62 catches for 682 yards and nine touchdowns and helped the team appear in Super Bowl XXXI.
Coates spent his final season in Baltimore before retiring after 2000. He was a five time pro bowler, three time All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion.
9. Ty Law
He was one of the premier cornerbacks in team history.
A first round pick in 1995, Ty Law made an instant impact in the secondary. In 1998, he became the first Patriots defensive back to lead the league in interceptions. In Super Bowl XXXVI, Law intercepted a Kurt Warner pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown and helped the team win its first championship. In 2003, he was part of a record-breaking Patriots defense that led the NFL in four key categories including opponents’ points per game, opponents’ passer rating, interceptions, and passing touchdowns surrendered. His physical play against some of the game's best receivers prompted the NFL to more strictly enforce the five-yard illegal contact rule on defensive backs after the 2003 season.
Law spent his final seasons wit the Jets, Chiefs, and Broncos before retiring in 2009. He was a five time pro bowler, two time All-Pro, two time league interceptions leader, and three time Super Bowl champion.
8. Tedy Bruschi
He was the heart and soul of the defense during the team's Super Bowl runs in the early 2000's.
A third round pick in 1996, Tedy Bruschi moved from defensive end to linebacker after joining the team. In his early years, he played primarily on special teams but his tackling ability earned him a starting spot on the defense in 1999. Moving to middle linebacker, Bruschi helped the team win three Super Bowls in four seasons. In 2005, Bruschi suffered a stroke in the offseason. He rehabbed and was able to play most of the 2005 season and was the co-comeback player of the year. He is the only player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns and his career total of four interceptions returned for touchdowns ranks second in Patriots history.
Bruschi retired after 2008 as a 2004 pro bowler, two time All-Pro, and three time Super Bowl champion.
7. Willie McGinest
He was a cornerstone of the defense for years.
A first round pick in 1994, Willie McGinest made an immediate impact on the defense. In Super Bowl XXXIX, he was used in a different manner than his regular role. While he usually lined up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, the Patriots moved him to the defensive line as a defensive end in an effort to keep Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb from scrambling. In a 2005 wild card playoff win over the Jaguars, McGinest eclipsed two NFL postseason records with the most sacks in a game and most career postseason sacks. He also shares the Patriots record for most career fumble returns for touchdown.
McGinest spent his final seasons in Cleveland before retiring in 2008. He was a two time pro bowler and three time Super Bowl champion.
6. Troy Brown
Mr. Patriot did it all during his career in Foxborough.
He retired as the team's all-time receptions leader, remains top in punt returns and even was effective as a defensive back. In 2004, he tied for the team lead in interceptions. Despite these accomplishments, Brown never seemed to get his due, making just one Pro Bowl appearance while serving as one of the most indispensable parts to three Super Bowl winners.
With the arrival of Wes Welker in 2007, The Patriots saw Brown as expendable. If Troy Brown would have had Josh McDaniel's as an offensive coordinator earlier in his career, he would have put up numbers that would out match Welker's.
5. Mike Haynes
He was the best thing about the New England defense for years.
A first round pick in 1976, Mike Haynes had immediate success. He used his speed, quickness and range to become both a premier defensive back and an outstanding punt return specialist. In his rookie year, he recorded eight interceptions and an AFC leading 608 yards on 45 punt returns as he was named the defensive rookie of the year. Haynes recorded 28 interceptions and 1,159 yards on 111 returns, a 10.4-yard average during his seven years with the Patriots.
Haynes played out his option with the Patriots in 1982, and in November, 1983, his contract was awarded to the Los Angeles Raiders. He retired 1989 as a nine time pro bowler and Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.
4. Adam Vinatieri
He is the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history.
After spending time in NFL Europe, Adam Vinatieri signed with the Patriots in 1996. He quickly established himself as the best clutch kicker in the game. In Super Bowl XXXVI he kicked a 48 yard field goal on the final play to give the New England Patriots their first Super Bowl victory, a 20-17 win over the Rams. Two years later, and in an almost identical situation, he kicked a 41 yard field goal with 4 seconds left in Super Bowl XXXVIII to boost the Patriots to another championship. In 2004 he led the league in scoring with his best game coming against St. Louis when he scored 16 points on kicks and threw a 4 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Troy Brown on a fake field goal attempt. In 10 seasons in New England, he had kicked 18 game winning field goals with less than one minute remaining, including those in the playoffs.
Vinatieri left for Indianapolis in 2006. He is a two time All-Pro and pro bowler and four time Super Bowl champion.
3. Andre Tippett
He is the most productive pass rusher in franchise history.
A second round pick in 1982, Andre Tippett was the defense for many years. From 1984 to 85, he recorded the highest two season sack total by a linebacker in NFL history totaling 35.0 sacks during the two seasons. His 18.5 sacks in 1984 are the third most by any linebacker in a single season and his 16.5 sacks in 1985 helped the team reach its first Super Bowl. Tippett holds the Patriots franchise record with 100.0 career sacks. He also owns the top three single season sack performances in Patriots history.
Tippett retired after the 1993 season as a five time pro bowler, four time All-Pro, and the 1985 co-defensive player of the year. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
2. John Hannah
He is considered by many to be the greatest offensive lineman ever.
A first round pick in 1973, John Hannah made the Patriots offensive relevant in the 70's and 80's. While considered somewhat short by NFL standards, he made up for this with great speed and quickness as well as powerful legs. Hannah excelled as a pass protector, run blocker and as the pulling guard on sweeps. His commitment level to football was very high and he expected the same from each of his teammates and sometimes becoming quite angry if he did not feel that they were complying. He anchored the 1978 offensive line that set a still standing NFL record with 3,165 rushing yards.
Hannah retired after 1985 as a nine time pro bowler, 10 time All-Pro, and four time offensive lineman of the year. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.
1. Tom Brady
He is quickly gaining the reputation as the greatest winning quarterback of all time.
A sixth round pick in 2000, Tom Brady was the seventh quarterback taken in the draft and would prove to be the best. After starter Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury in 2001, Brady took over the job and led the team to three Super Bowl victories in four years. In 2007, he finally had a talented receiving corps around him and he finished the season with 4,806 passing yards for a them record 50 touchdown passes, and only 8 interceptions while leading the Patriots to a perfect regular season. He holds every major Patriots passing record and holds the record for most playoff wins by a quarterback.
In 14 seasons in New England, Brady has been a nine time pro bowler, three time All-Pro, two time NFL MVP, two time league passing yards leader, three time Super Bowl champion, and tw time Super Bowl MVP.