The Boston offense relies mostly on Fullback Jim Nance, who has led the league in rushing the past two seasons. Nance has set his individual goal even higher this year. "I want to gain 1,500 yards. Nobody has ever done it, and I want to be the first," he says. Nance, 240, is one of the toughest runners the game has ever seen. If the Patriots could find a halfback with outside speed, Nance might get his 1,500 yards. But Boston's offense is too one-handed.
In prior years the Patriots were strong on defense. Last season the defense faded. Two starters from that unit are gone. But there are some bright spots. Middle Linebacker Nick Buoniconti and Defensive Linemen Jim Hunt, Larry Eisenhauer and Houston Antwine have All-Star experience. Leroy Mitchell and John Charles, starters at cornerbacks as rookies last season, should be much better with Charles shifting to safety to replace retired Chuck Shonta. Several other positions are uncertain. Holovak is especially distressed about the line-backing. "We need help at right linebacker, and I don't care who gives it to us," he says.
The Pats also had quite a lot of dissension last year. One of Holovak's aims in bringing in new faces and saying good-by to old ones has been to restore harmony in the "family." Even if that is accomplished, the Pats most likely will stay on the bottom.