Former Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe helped defeat the Patriots in last year’s AFC championship game. Now with the Dolphins, Ellerbe believes he can help Miami dethrone the Patriots in the AFC East.
The Patriots are dealing with major changes. Former tight end Aaron Hernandez is in jail. Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is with the Broncos. Current tight end Rob Gronkowski is recovering from back surgery.
Ellerbe sees all that, and views the Patriots as vulnerable. Can you blame him?
“I think they are, but you have to prove it, you just can’t talk about it,” Ellerbe told Mike Freeman of CBSsports.com. “I was brought here to help knock them off. That doesn’t mean we will, but we feel like we can.”
Asked specifically about the loss of Hernandez, Ellerbe said, “Losing a starter always hurts, and losing a starter as good as he was will really hurt. I don’t think you can say the Patriots are the same as before what happened to Hernandez.”
After signing with the Dolphins during free agency, Ellerbe brings swagger and confidence to Miami. The Ravens beat the Patriots twice last season. Ellerbe said the Ravens simply viewed New England as talented, but beatable.
“Our mentality whenever we played them was to keep fighting,” Ellerbe said. “They were so good offensively that they would score and try to get up big on you. We felt like if we just kept fighting, eventually we could get inside their heads.”
Now Hernandez is inside a prison, and Ellerbe want to see a new era in the AFC East begin. Nine of the last 10 years, the Patriots have won the division. That’s an impressive run of dominance. But Ellerbe thinks he can help the Dolphins end it.