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5 Most Irreplaceable Players in 2014 for New England Patriots

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5 Most Irreplaceable Players in 2014 for New England Patriots

Devin McCourty New England Patriots
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

As Tom Brady’s NFL career enters its final stretch, time is precious for the New England Patriots. The window to win a Super Bowl with Tom Terrific is closing faster than most fans like to admit. In addition to Brady, there are several key players that are essential to the team’s chances at a ring this season. Here are the five most irreplaceable players on the Patriots’ roster.

5. Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones New England Patriots
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

5. Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones New England Patriots
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Every great defense has a great pass rush—and every great pass rush has a spark. Jones fills that role for the Patriots. It’s all well and good that the Patriots upgraded their secondary, but the pass defense will struggle if Jones gets hurt this season.

4. Logan Mankins

Logan Mankins New England Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

4. Logan Mankins

Logan Mankins New England Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mankins is the anchor of the Pats’ offensive line—he has started 130 games since 2005. When Mankins isn’t in the lineup, there is a noticeable drop in the unit’s play. Entering his tenth NFL season, Mankins is Brady’s right-hand man, and without him, the offense just isn’t the same.

3. Devin McCourty

Devin McCourty New England Patriots
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

3. Devin McCourty

Devin McCourty New England Patriots
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

McCourty has quietly become one of the elite safeties in the NFL. He compares to Kam Chancellor in the way that he patrols the back end, and is opportunistic when it comes to intercepting the ball. This year, McCourty will be as valuable as ever because he will allow Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to be aggressive on the outside.

2. Nate Solder

Nate Solder New England Patriots
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

2. Nate Solder

Nate Solder New England Patriots
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

In a few years, Solder will be considered one of the top overall offensive lineman in football. He is a brick wall at tackle, slowing down fierce pass rushers while also setting an edge in the ground game. Most importantly, Solder is the guardian of Brady’s blindside.

1. Tom Brady

Tom Brady New England Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

1. Tom Brady

Tom Brady New England Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No surprise here. Even at age 36 (he turns 37 in August), Brady is the best quarterback in football. Since 2003, the Pats have missed the playoffs only once—the infamous 2008 season in which Brady was absent because of the knee injury he sustained in the opener. When Brady is on the field, the Patriots win.