Patriots Look back and Look Forward – Offense
As we head into Training Camp, scheduled to begin July 28th, lets take a look back at 2019 season to see what went right and wrong.
The Patriots offense was the worst since 2006. Their dependency on the 21 offense of 2 running backs and 1 TE is incredible. This is a throwback to the old days of the NFL power football. The only problem is the Patriots didn’t have the horses to play this style of play. They were 23rd in yards per play last year and 25th from game 7 on.
Injuries to starting fullback James Devlin and subsequent injury to his replacement Jacob Johnson shutdown the Patriots running game and the use of the 21 offense. Dan Vitale should help this position. He is not the blocker Devlin was but he is a far superior pass catcher.
The TE play was the worst in the league and only Steelers’ tight ends had fewer yards. Not only were they the worst catching the ball, but their blocking wasn’t much better either. They drafted two TEs to upgrade this position.
The wide receivers ranked near the bottom of the league as well. This was due in part to their inability to get off the line of scrimmage cleanly and separate from the defenders. A second factor was dropped passes. Julian Edelman was particularly susceptible to this.
N’ Keal Harry suffered an ankle injury in pre-season and that hurt his development with Tom Brady (who skipped all off season workouts which further set back the familiarization).
Mohammed Sanu was playing with a high ankle sprain that rendered him useless. It was so bad that he required off season surgery. Sanu was also playing out of position. He played in the slot for Atlanta and was out wide for the Pats.
The Return of Andrews should help the offense in 2020.
Offensive line was injured and really didn’t round into form all year. David Andrews went out early in Training Camp with blood clots in his lungs and was gone all year. Ted Karras filled in admirably, but he wasn’t Andrews.
After missing all his rookie season LT Isaiah Wynn didn’t get into the lineup until week 9. Marcus Cannon was banged up all year and was ineffective when he did play. Despite the injuries Pro Football Focus had them ranked 10 in the league as a unit.
Andrews is back, Thuney is playing on the franchise tag (as of this writing he hadn’t signed a long term deal and wasn’t expected to). Thuney was ranked by PFF as the number 5 OG in the league last year.
Shaq Mason’s 4 year average ranked #5 in the league and he is a roadgrader when they run the ball. Cannon and Wynn will be back. This will be the 1st time their entire starting OL will be playing together.
Yodny Cajuste was drafted knowing he was hurt and the Pats gave him a redshirt year last season. He could push Cannon for the starters role. Three rookies were drafted late to provide backup and development on the Practice squad.
The biggest loss will be future Hall of Fame O line coach Dante Scarnecchia. It will take two people to replace him,. Carmen Bracillo was the Asst OL coach last year so they have a year under Scar’s tutelage. Cole Popovich will move from Asst RB coach to Asst OL coach.
QB play by Tom Brady was a problem too. He was ineffective last year. Many said he didn’t have the time to pass because of the makeshift line and ineffective running game. However, he missed wide open receivers when he did have time to throw. Against Tom Brady, opposing defenses would play the 20 yard box against him. They would only cover the 20 yards from the line of scrimmage back to the Safety.
Brady’s anemic passing completion percentage beyond 20 yards downfield allowed then to do this. They would dare Brady and his WRs to throw deep. Teams will not be able to do this with Newton. Further they will have to respect Newton’s running ability, often employing a spy. One aspect of Newton’s game that needs improvement is his play action passing. He needs to sell the handoff better. Last years lack of running game took that element out of the Patriots playbook.
I’m excited to see what a motivated Cam Newton, healthy Offensive Line, improved Wide Receivers and Tights Ends in an innovative offense by Josh McDaniel might do this year. They have a tough schedule, but if the Offense can move the ball against quality opponents, they will be a dangerous contender all season.
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Offseason
Tags: 2020 Patriots Offseason
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