A little while ago, The Sporting News picked a breakout player from each team in the NFL. For the Patriots, the selection was safety Brandon Merriweather.
Merriweather? That was a little surprising. I figured going from a part-time player to starting all 16 games, leading the team in interceptions with four, and a few game-changing plays made for a breakout year.
OK, so it wasn’t a Pro Bowl season. It’s hard to get recognized over Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu or Baltimore’s Ed Reed. But keep this in mind: Merriweather had more tackles and forced fumbles than either two, and had more sacks than Reed. And Brandon did that with less protection from the front seven. Baltimore and Pittsburgh were the top two defenses in the league, thanks in large part to disruptive fronts. Merriweather didn’t get that kind of help.