I wrote a detailed analysis of the team’s no-huddle offense around mid-season last year and, in it, discovered that the team scored two-thirds of the time when they went no-huddle (which was about a third of the time). They huddled two-thirds of the time, but scored just once every three drives from the slowed-down tempo. So, I asked Bill Belichick and Tom Brady why they didn’t use it more often when it appeared to be so successful.
Their responses were revealing. Essentially, they said operating without a huddle is advantageous only when going up against defensive personnel who aren’t equipped to match up with the players the Patriots have on the field. The disadvantage, from New England’s standpoint, is that they can’t substitute when they’re not huddling. This limits the number of plays they can run with the personnel they have out there.
For instance, if the Patriots have their third-down back on the field with three receivers and one tight end, that personnel package isn’t always the desired one for goal-line situations, when a "heavy" package is more likely to succeed. So, no matter what improvements the Patriots make to their 2011 league-worst defense this year, they will have no effect on the offensive play calling.
Now, the lack of Light’s steady presence is surely a loss for New England’s o-line, but I have little doubt about Solder’s ability to step in and perform. For one, he’s far more prepared for the role than Light was when he was handed the job as a rookie in 2001. Secondly, Solder is a more talented player and could potentially be better than Light ever was.
However, I share your concerns about Vollmer’s health, which puts the right tackle position up for grabs. Cannon, it would seem, would be the frontrunner to replace Vollmer, if he can’t go, but you could see competition for that role from any number of young players on the roster, such as Matt Kopa (a 2011 practice squadder), or perhaps veteran Robert Gallery, if he’s not thrust into the right guard role.
- Patriots Today - Thoughts from the rookies. (2.03 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Friendly confines for Francis. (1.56 min. video)
- Karen Guregian looks at the WRs available on Brady's menu for 2012: all comfort food options.
- Field Yates looks at each position on the roster and examines it through the age microscope.
- Jeff Howe notes Wes Welker shows once again how he's one of the greatest team-first players in Patriots history.
- NESN reports newly retired Matt Light helped run a camp at the Ron Burton Training Village this week, where he says the main focus is to help kids be "real." (2.27 min. video)
- Pat Kirwan (CBS Sports) Welker's smart to avoid holdout, now Patriots should reward him.
- Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com) Young guns: Top 10 NFL players under the age of 25. Rob Gronkowski makes the cut.
- Matt Williamson (ESPN) Ranking the AFC East WR corps. New England ranks no. 1.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) A realistic assessment of Brady's career duration. Plus a video segment with Tom E. Curran (16.30 min.)
- TE 'seam route' so tough to defend? Using video of a Gronkowski TD to break down technique. (Nat'l Football Post) Why is the
- John Clayton (ESPN) Opportunity knocks at minicamp.
- Andrew Brandt (ESPN) Rookies sacrificed in new CBA.
- Alex Marvez (Fox Sports) Finance issues could plague draftees.
- George Koonce (ESPN) Guest column: Surviving life after the NFL.
- Jack Bechta (Nat'l Football Post) NFL regional combines are working.
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) ESPN president: John Gruden is a star, we'll ride him.
- Ryan Van Bibber (SB Nation/NFL) Damned Lies: Your guide to NFL offseason storylines.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Revis raves about Tebow.
- Jarrett Bell (USA Today) NFLPA makes case to overturn bounty punishment.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Report: League may eventually release some bounty evidence.
- Albert Breer and Steve Wyche (NFL.com) Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita present at grievance hearing.