With the news that the Buffalo Bills declined to match the New England offer, Bill Belichick got his man. After missing out on a few free agents that the team kicked the tires on, WR Chris Hogan joins the Patriots as their newest wide receiver.
Hogan is a great fit for the Patriots offense. He’s versatile, fast, agile with good size, he can play anywhere on the receiver tree and be a more productive member of the offense here than he ever was in Buffalo.
Hogan, the Patriots newest WR has a great work ethic and built-in chip on his shoulder that drives him which will resonate very well with the quarterback he’ll now have to work with and gain his trust.
Every year the Bills would either draft or bring in players to replace him and this current offseason was no exception. GM Doug Whaley declared wide receiver as a big need for the team. Then he listed five players that should compete for the #2 WR slot including Patriots castoffs Leonard Hankerson and Greg Salas without mentioning the guy who caught 77 passes the past two seasons.
Did those words burn into him and motivate him to be even better?
“Oh yeah. One hundred percent,” Hogan said to the Buffalo News’ Tyler Dunne. “I’ve been around long enough to know this is something they’re going to do every single year. But every single year, I have that same kind of mentality where it’s like ‘Oh man, well, I’m just going to have to work that much harder to outplay these guys.’ ”
Every offseason Hogan wakes up at 4 a.m. to drive an hour from his Long Island home to his “Freak Strength” gym in New Jersey.
Tough, Durable: He injured his wrist last year, and played thru the pain, causing him to have more than his fair share of drops before having surgery this offseason to correct it and it should be completely healed by now.
But he’s tough, and hasn’t missed a game in three years and isn’t afraid to go in those dangerous places across the middle of the field. He’s a willing and able blocker. He can take the punishment that goes along with working in dangerous places as well as dish some out as well.
Challenges with the system: Hogan played with three different quarterbacks in three seasons with the Bills. Now he’ll have to learn the detailed Patriots offense and route tree and earn the trust of Tom Brady. Those are the two biggest obstacles facing him.
The first learning the offense and route tree are what causes so many WRs in this offense to fail. The Patriots want versatile guys, players who can line up anywhere, they’re not concerned with a player’s designation be it “X”, “Z” or the slot. In the Patriots offense you’ll be expected to play all over and depending upon opponents and/or matchups, so Hogan could be in the slot or outside in the “X”.
Running the routes and adjusting to the play after the snap is key. Brady reads the pre-snap look of the defense better than anyone and the receivers have to recognize what he sees and run the correct route and be in the place where Brady expects them to be.
Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have mastered this and that’s why the three are always on the same page as Brady. Wes Welker, Randy Moss and Deion Branch were the others who were able to get in sync with Brady on Day1.
Those will be the challenges facing Hogan. Many have failed before him but the Patriots have supposedly been impressed with his football I.Q.
Where will he line up: So most people think that his signing means the end of Danny Amendola’s tenure in New England…while that may end up being true, don’t be too quick to wave goodbye to Amendola just yet.
Hogan is thought of as a slot receiver but lined up there just 56 percent of the time according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). He lined up all over for the Bills and expect much of the same if not more with the Patriots. Belichick loves versatile football players and he more than fits the bill.
He’s bigger than the average slot guy at 6’1, 220-pounds so when the slot corner presents a sizable match advantage, look for him there. But his speed on the outside is underrated, he’s got decent wheels (4.47 in the 40), and can be used as an outside deep receiver as well.
Against the Titans last year, he caught a 46-yard bomb from Tyrod Taylor, which set the Bills up for the game-winning touchdown late in the 4th quarter. Which happened to be a touchdown pass from Taylor to Hogan out of the left slot. In the same series, Hogan threw a left-handed pass to Taylor that gained four yards…there’s your versatility.
His footwork inside isn’t as quick as Edelman’s or possibly Amendola’s but it is still very good. In Week 2 he changed direction and caught a Taylor pass on a 2nd and 8 that gained 10 yards and set the Bills up with a first and goal from the three. He also beat Pat Chung in the slot during Week 11 for a big gain of 42 yards.
He shows good awareness running routes and is able to find the sweet spot in zone coverage and is quick enough off the line and physical to get open quickly in man. He creates some space with his route running and should
He can also be pressed into service as a left-footed emergency punter as well in case anything happens to Ryan Allen during a game. Want more versatility? He was the gunner for the Bills’ STs units. While he may not have to do that with Matthew Slater, Brandon King already in place….again it is what you can do which will endear you to Belichick. And he’s willing.
Expectations/Reality: What can we expect out of Hogan this season? Sometimes a guy can come in here after a solid career and find himself frozen out of Brady’s circle of trust. Can it happen to Hogan? Sure…but I don’t think it will.
He’s young enough and more than hungry enough to do whatever it takes to become an integral part of the overall team. And he’s going to be the third target behind Edelman and Gronk. But sharing that responsibility with Amendola and Dion Lewis (if he’s healthy come September) should get him plenty of looks in this offense.
His 36 catches, 450 yards, and 2 touchdowns should be easily surpassed with Brady under center in 2016. Remember this, when Brandon LaFell arrived in 2014, he too was supposed to be just a slot receiver and before his foot injury had a very solid season on the way to a Super Bowl victory.
A bit of advice for Mr. Hogan, find out where in California where Brady, Edelman and Amendola are working out this spring, get a plane ticket and be the first one there. Building the trust factor begins now.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2016 Free Agency 2016 NFL Free Agency 2016 NFL off-season 2016 Patriots Roster 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Julian Edelman New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots wide receivers Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady