Patriots vs. Vikings All 22 Thoughts: Offense Edition

Not much doing on the first possession — a three and out. The commitment to establish the run is clear, but they didn’t have much success off the left side of the line on the first two runs.

As mentioned by Greg Bedard last night, on the first pass attempt of the second possession there was just Dobson running a route. Everyone else was blocking. Yes, they’re trying to establish some confidence but yikes.

Cleaner blocking in the run game on the second possession, with nice lead/edge blocks from Hooman and Develin on Ridley’s five yard run.

Edelman fly sweep! Teams are going to figure out how to defend this play pretty quick as almost every NFL team is running them this year it seems.

The WR slip screens haven’t been working well this year so far, and I’d include the RB screens as well. With the heavier and less experienced line this probably shouldn’t be a surprise. But they just can’t seem to get that one block that springs them for a big gain.

Still scratching my head how we’re in the second quarter and we’ve seen about as much Hooman and Develin as Dobson/Amendola/LaFell. For a team that lacked playmakers last year they’re still seemingly avoiding their playmakers.

Still, what a rocket on third-and-15 to Edelman to pick up a much-needed first down. This was one of my Three GIFs plays.

Brady stood in there tough and took the hit to deliver a perfect touchdown lob to Edelman. Great play that he clearly audibled into.

The Pats were stopped short on 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter. The hole was there for a second, but Connolly couldn’t quite make his reach block and that was enough to delay Ridley from squirting through. Harrison Smith also filled and tackled like a force of nature. He’s a good player.

And now it’s the Brady and Edelman show. I expected to see a little more balance this year on offense, that’s for sure. Most puzzling though is how little Vereen was involved in the game plan. He needs to get the ball in space more often.

Really solid run blocking on the last play of the third quarter where Vereen picked up 12 yards. Sustained blocks, good movement and vision from Vereen. More of that please.

Cannon got stunned by the initial punch by the DT and that’s how Brady was sacked in the fourth quarter. It did seem like there was time for him to unload it, but it appeared he was staring down Edelman who was bracketed. See below:

Lastly, All-22 is a much better way to get a good look at the offensive line and I really liked what I saw from Bryan Stork upon further review. Sustains his blocks, shows good strength. Would not be surprised if he starts to see more time. 

Do you think this years offense with be a mix of the last couple of seasons, in '11 they used two tightends, '12 they used more one tightend sets due to injuries with gronk and hernandez, then last year they did more wide receiver sets. I feel like they will do all of these plus the new wrinkle of vereen/white out of backfield. What do you think they will do on offense this year?

I think that the offense is as much as a product of what they have and what they think they do well as it is the overall philosophy.

LaFell, Wright and White are the new pieces and I think each will have their own impact. LaFell is a big receiver who is somewhat Dobson insurance, but also provides another big body outside. He could be valuable in the red zone.

The Pats never had a chance to replace Hernandez last year and that’s just what role Wright will play in the offense. How quickly will he pick the offense up? He seems like a perfect fit and has everything the Pats want for that position, but developing trust with Tom Brady isn’t always that easy. Still, I think Wright has the goods.

The Vereen/White backfield is interesting and yet another way to stress the defense.

Will the Pats’ offense ever settle into a primary set of five weapons this season? I don’t know the answer at this point, but if everyone stays healthy I think there’s going to be more variety than we’ve ever seen from them.

It will just depend on the matchups and who gets hot because there is some redundancy as well between Edelman/Amendola, LaFell/Dobson, Vereen/White.

If you read one thing today, make it this great article from Erik Frenz breaking down the Patriots’ requirements for wide receivers. It’s the best thing I’ve read on the topic with a lot of insight from the receivers.

Will Patriots’ Offensive Youth Movement Continue?

Will the New England Patriots continue 2013’s trend of going young on the offensive side of the ball? Given the players in their last year and the weak spots along their offensive line, it seems likely.

Specifically focusing on the interior line where the Patriots got much larger during the draft. Rookie offensive linemen like Stork, Halapio, and Fleming are on average much larger than bubble veteran players like Connolly and Wendell.

The problem is that they haven’t quite caught on as fast as the team had hoped. Stork was the highest OL taken in the draft, and it was a common reoccurrence to see him take a lap for a missed snap or botched play.

We’ll see this unit more when the pads come on in late July, and that might be where the rookies set themselves apart from the veterans due to their sheer size. Connolly and Wendell could very well be in jeopardy of losing their jobs when the roster needs to be cut down to 53.

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What this shows is that Brady gets better over his first two hits and then slowly declines through his sixth hit, though his accuracy percentage remains higher than it is with a clean jersey throughout this span. Brady doesn’t begin to come apart until taking his seventh hit.

Brady shows a pretty remarkable ability to maintain his performance even when he’s getting drilled. An interesting stat to run this against would be how quickly he gets the ball out. Do more hits cause a delay in decision making?

Going deeper on Patriots’ selection of Garoppolo

While I never thought the Pats would select a quarterback as high as they did this year, I did think that the time to start throwing any and all quarterbacks they could get their hands on at the wall now.

My biggest question was what kind of quarterback might they target? Would it be one of the more mobile kind in the Cam Newton/Colin Kaepernick mold? Or would it be a more traditional pocket passer?

Belichick is known to stay well ahead of the curve on all aspects of football, so I assumed any quarterback acquired would tell us a lot about the direction that BB thought offensive football was going.

With Mallett on the roster, it seemed to point the Belichick still favoring pocket passers, especially one with a big arm. But with the selection of Garropolo, especially in the second round tells us something a little different I believe.

Garoppolo’s strengths? Quick reads and a quick release. Essentially what Brady does best. For all the criticism that the “dink-and-dunk” has gotten over the years, leaving fans crying for a “deeeeep threat” it would seem that Belichick thinks that’s a style of offense that can be effective going forward.

This is also reflective in the Pats’ penchant for traditional slot receivers who are extremely quick and can get open right away off the line.

They all go together with a quarterback like Garoppolo.

Will Garoppolo be Brady’s heir apparent? We’ll see in a couple seasons, but for now it appears Belichick and the Patriots will try to maintain the kind of offense that has worked with Brady.

In other words, receivers coming out of these systems are forced to learn a new way to speak about and learn the game. Instead of simply being told to run a slant or a go route, which makes learning a playbook much easier, they have to understand the concepts of each play and their assignment within in.

Great flashback read on the Patriots’ offense since I’ve been getting a lot of schematic questions lately.

Great read from, looking at each phase of the Patriots’ offensive evolution over the last 13 years. Can’t get enough of this kind of schematic history.