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ESPN: Can the Patriots Offense Improve?

Sony Michel
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

I wrote for ESPN+ today about the New England Patriots offense: it's not as bad as you think, but it's been mediocre since about Week 4. What's wrong, and what can possibly be fixed?

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6 comments, Last at 27 Nov 2019, 2:25pm

1 forgive me for commenting without reading

ESPN is blocked by my employer (FO sneaks under the radar.)

What's wrong? Shaq Mason isn't playing as well as he did last year. The problems at WR are well documented. And Marshall Newhouse isn't very good. Finally, Brady is slipping from his peak level.

What can be fixed? Getting Wynn back helps a lot. I'm assuming that Dorsett and Sanu will return and contribute. Sanu in particular is a very good WR. We saw some good running vs. the Cowboys, and that bodes well.

There is certainly some room for improvement that we can expect. They are still going to have issues at WR, and with all due respect to Ben Watson, we probably won't see Gronk-level production at TE for quite a long time.

I expect Brady to do a little better if he has confidence in his pass protection (something he didn't have with Newhouse at LT.) Still, some of his problems are mental - either he's trying to do too much and is forcing passes that aren't there or he's trying to make passes he can't make any longer. But it looks like he still has his arm strength.

The loss of FB James Develin really hurt the run game. In the past two games they've been using LB Elandon Roberts as FB. I think that could help.

2 Short Answer?

Yes.
They're not going to be a top-5 offense by any stretch but the performance against the Cowboys showed a great deal of improvement, even if the box score doesn't agree. five drops belies how accurate Brady was and he also displayed excellent pocket presence with no panic. A big part of the improvement came from the return of Isaiah Wynn and the ripple effect that had down the o-line. The run game also showed signs of life with Michel able to play to his strengths and read his blocks (you need blocks to be able to read them). There were still times when the line collapsed but that's partially due to the fact that Cannon was so sick, he wasn't expected to play (and Wynn's leaning curve - hes only played 1 1/2 games in two seasons, yet is already a quantum leap over Newhouse). You could tell after the game that Brady was much happier with the performance than last week.
The Pats were also without their #2 and #3 receivers - TB was throwing to Edelman and two rookies, one an UDFA. Sanu and Dorsett should both be back soon, and Sanu is still learning the playback so his numbers should go up.
Will they be the points juggernaut of years past? Hell no. Still, with that D, they don't need to be. The ravens look like the best team in football now but with some Pats offensive improvement and at NE, I think a game would be much closer than last time.

3 "The ravens look like the…

In reply to by RobotBoy

"The ravens look like the best team in football now but with some Pats offensive improvement and at NE, I think a game would be much closer than last time."

FWIW the Pats were on the verge of taking a 24-20 lead until TB threw a pick-six to make it 27-17.  Of course their offense only scored three more points and ended up losing 37-20 but who knows whether a closer scoreline late in the game might have put more pressure on the Ravens.

I hope the two teams meet again as it'll be fascinating to see what Belichick rolls out for Lamar a 2nd time around. And whether Harbaugh plans some wrinkles to counter for it.

I guess if they both win their divisions they'll be meeting next year anyway. 

4 Edelman fumble-six, not a…

Edelman fumble-six, not a pick-six.

And while it is true that NE got as close as 24-20 midway through 3Q, let's not forget that NE would have been losing by something like 24-0 or worse at halftime (instead of only trailing 17-13) if BAL hadn't had two fluky turnovers.

 

6 How the hell is Cyrus Jones…

How the hell is Cyrus Jones muffing a punt fluky?

That's literally his thing.

(on a more serious note - the patriots lead the league in turnovers - and are averaging roughly 3 a game - so 2 doesn't seem like flukey luck)