As we know, heading into the 2013 season there are a lot of changes coming for the Patriots offensively.  As a result I wanted to take a look at some different situations from last season, with this one focusing on their performance in short yardage situations.

After doing some digging through our Stats Database, I looked at the numbers when Tom Brady and the offense were in situations where they faced less three yards or less, and the results were fairly interesting.

Tom Brady was surprisingly just 29-of-52 for 335 yards (56%), although every completion was a first down including 9 touchdowns (the NFL scorekeepers consider a touchdown a first down).  However, when running the ball the Patriots were fairly effective, converting 73 first downs including 19 touchdowns, giving them a 65% conversion rate running the ball.  Overall New England definitely favored the ground game, carrying 112 times compared to the 52 where they decided to throw the football in those situations.

Breaking it down by receiver, here is how the numbers looked:

Wes Welker: 9 Targets, 8 Receptions, 80 Yards, 8 First Downs, 2 TD’s

Rob Gronkowski: 11 Targets, 6 Receptions, 56 Yards, 6 First Downs, 3 TD’s

Brandon Lloyd: 12 Targets, 4 Receptions, 42 Yards, 4 First Downs, 1 TD

Aaron Hernandez: 9 Targets, 4 Receptions, 52 Yards, 4 First Downs, 1 TD

Julian Edelman: 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 14 Yards, 3 First Downs, 1 TD

Danny Woodhead: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 42 Yards, 2 First Downs, 1 TD

Deion Branch: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 8 Yards, 1 First Down

Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 41 Yards, 1 First Downs

As for the running backs, here’s a look at how the totals broke down by player:

Stevan Ridley: 63 Carries, 192 yards, 41 First Downs, 9 TD’s

Danny Woodhead: 19 Carries, 55 Yards, 10 First Downs, 3 TD’s

Brandon Bolden: 10 Carries, 33 Yards, 5 First Downs, 1 TD

Shane Vereen: 10 Carries, 28 Yards, 8 First Downs, 3 TD’s

Tom Brady: 9 Carries, 13 Yards, 8 First Downs, 3 TD’s

Lex Hilliard: 1 Carry, 2 Yards, 1 First Down


Stevan Ridley struggled down inside the Red Zone in short yardage situations for the Patriots in 2012. (FILE:USA Today Images)

Down inside the Red Zone, there were some additional numbers that stood out.  When it came to throwing the ball down down in scoring territory, in situations where they needed to convert 3 yards or less to sustain the drive Brady overall was 10-of-17 for 59 yards along with 10 first downs, 9 touchdowns and one interception.

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:

Brandon Lloyd: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 27 yards, 2 first downs, 1 touchdown

Danny Woodhead: 1 target, 1 reception, 18 yards, 1 first down, 1 touchdown

Rob Gronkowski: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 6 yards, 3 first downs, 3 touchdowns

Wes Welker: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 5 yards, 2 first downs, 2 touchdowns

Julian Edelman: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards, 1 first down, 1 touchdown.

Aaron Hernandez: 3 targets, 1 reception, 1 yard, 1 first down, 1 touchdown

*There was also one additional attempt not credited as a target to a player

As you probably noticed, every reception caught by Woodhead, Gronkowski, Welker, Edelman, and Hernandez were all touchdowns – which they also credit as a first down.

Meanwhile once again, running the football, Ridley and Woodhead lead the way and accounted for 20 of the team’s 30 first downs, as well as combining for 12 touchdowns.

INSIDE THE FIVE YARD LINE: Here’s where it gets a little interesting.  When they got inside the opponent’s 5 yard line, Ridley had eight touchdowns, while Woodhead had two.  Tom Brady also accounted for 4 of the team’s 18 touchdowns from this distance.

Here’s a breakdown of how they fared:

Shane Vereen: 4 Carries, 9 Yards, 3 TD’s

Danny Woodhead: 6 carries, 8 yards, 2 TD’s

Stevan Ridley: 19 carries, -1 yards,  8 TD’s

Tom Brady: 5 Carries, 6 Yards, 4 TD’s

Brandon Bolden: 6 Carries, 1 Yard, 1 TD

When throwing the football, the tight ends were the most targeted of the group. Overall Gronkowski (7 targets, 4 receptions) lead the team with 4 touchdowns, while Hernandez (4 targets, 2 catches) had 2, Welker (2 targets, 2 receptions) had 2, and Edelman (1 target, 1 reception) had one.

A couple of things to point out,  inside the 5 yard line of his 19 carries, Ridley surprisingly was tackled 8 times for a loss as well as 2 carries for no gain, which means more than half of his rushing attempts failed to gain any yardage.  Out of the entire group, Vereen was the only running back who managed to avoid losing yardage, albeit on just 4 carries.

You can view the numbers yourself here.

At the Opponents’ One Yard Line:  One other thing worth pointing out is when the Patriots got down to their opponents one yard line, Ridley overall had a tough time, carrying 10 times for -1 yards on the year despite scoring four touchdowns. Of those carries he was stopped 4 times for a loss as well as twice for no gain.

Brandon Bolden also fared poorly from that distance, carrying 2 times for -5 yards. Meanwhile, Brady was a perfect 3-of-3, as was Vereen who carried 2 times with 2 TD’s.  Woodhead was next finishing 1-of-2. One other fact? From the goal line the Patriots as a team actually carried 19 times for 0 yards.

Brady attempted just one pass last season from the one yard line, which was a touchdown pass to Hernandez.  It came in their road loss to the Seahawks back on October 14th, 2012.

You can view the full numbers here.

Obviously with a new group of players more or less replacing nearly the entire group at the receiver position and tight end spots, it will be interesting to see how much success New England has this season, especially when Brady is trying to keep the chains moving.

In the running game fortunately they’re returning most of their core players, so if nothing else hopefully they’ll continue to improve.  Some of these numbers at least explains why the Patriots made some additional moves at running back, bringing in a couple of bigger players likely in hopes of improving on some of the issues they had last season.

We’ll at least start getting a look at some of these new players in a few weeks when training camp finally opens up at Gillette Stadium.