Four things determine offensive success: * Skill position players (QB, RBs, receivers) * Blockers * Circumstances (weather, field conditions, score, field position provided by the other two units) * Play-calling I'm not going to try to dictate whether blocking by skill position players should be counted as part of "skill position players" or part of "OL". The circumstances are objective facts, so we rightly tend not to debate them much. Another near-objective fact is that, on the whole, the Pats' offense has had good-not-great results this year. "Not great" or worse is proved by today's putrid performance, by a bunch of second-half meltdowns, and so on. "Good" is confirmed by the overall stats and, frankly, by the Pro Bowl selections and other awards. With that as background, there are there areas to look at: 1. Skill position players. I think these should be taken together, because defenses open paths for some as they clamp down on others, and because QB/receiver coordination is so important. It's a lot easier to judge Brady, Moss, Welker, the other receivers, and the RBs as a group than it is to single them out individually. 2. OL. They, too, should be viewed as a group. E.g., if the tackles need help on double-teams, the center is more likely to get run over, and vice-versa. 3. Play-calling. If smart coaching attacks and adjustments aren't made, the players have less chance to succeed. The easiest fix, in principle, is always play-calling. Well, on offense the Patriots have become a finesse team. A lot of the players count as tough for their position -- Welker, Edelman, Faulk, Brady all come to mind. But who is remarkably physical? Mankins and, uh ... er ... hmm ... it's a short list. Maybe Aiken or Slater, but they're not among the team's five best receivers (two Pro Bowlers, plus Edelman, Faulk, Watson). The problem is that finesse teams need precise timing and synchronization. And since opposing defenses know that and will focus on trying to disrupt it, they require play-calling that defeats or punishes the disruptions. So has that been happening, with failed execution? (Dropped passes, off-target passes, bad Brady decisions, whatever?) Or have the plays been lacking? I'm inclined to say it's some of each. When the Pats execute better, the play callers' jobs will surely be easier. Will they do a downright good job of play-calling? Um, I don't have the faith I once did. As for raw talent -- we need to keep Mankins, and hit on a RG in the draft. As for center, I don't know that we can count on a rookie stepping in as effectively as Koppen did, so we need development there too. And of course we need another speed receiver or two. Welker/Edelman is a great slot combo, even with Welker on crutches. But speed receiver depth is lacking even if one is wildly optimistic about Moss's and Tate's health.