The Patriots Scoring Will Return

Tom Szczerbowski

Never fear, the offense will be here. Preferably sooner, rather than later.

I recently read that the Patriots red zone offense is 32nd in the league. Four touchdowns on 13 trips to the red zone, a laughably bad 30.8% conversion rate. I just wanted to clear the air and let you know: It will get better. The Patriots offense is operating at an unsustainably bad rate.

Let's just look at the teams that finished with the top 10 picks of last season. Only one finished below 40% (Arizona at 39%). Only Kansas City joined them below 45% (40%), and 3 of the top 10 pick teams broke 50%. Even the Jets broke 50%, sitting at a 51.1% red zone touchdown rate. You think this offense is on that level? Please.

Going back ten years, I could only find one team with a season long red zone conversion rate worse that the Patriots' current 30.8%, and that was the 2006 Oakland Raiders. Do you know who led that team? Quarterback Andrew Walter, running back Justin Fargas, and wide receiver Ronald Curry (yes, he out-received Randy Moss). This team ain't the '06 Raiders.

Even if you think that the Patriots offense has the potential to be average, never mind bottom-ten-team-in-the-league-bad, everyone has to understand that things will improve. You also have to note that of the 13 trips, two were end of game scenarios where the Patriots weren't trying to score- the Jets (where they kneeled out the clock) and the Buccaneers (where they were killing the clock and not trying to run up the score). Take away those two scenarios and the Patriots are at an "improved" 36.4% touchdown conversion. That's more the number we should be looking at.

Where can the Patriots go from 36.4%? Let's look at some of the other top offenses in the league and their red zone production:

Year NE NO GB ATL PM LG
2010 62.7% 51.7% 59.6% 60.3% 66.7% 53.6%
2011 67.6% 62.9% 66.2% 53.4% N/A 53.6%
2012 70.0% 70.7% 67.3% 59.7% 61.5% 55.7%
10-'12 66.8% 61.7% 64.5% 57.9% 69.0% 54.3%
2013 30.8% 40.0% 60.0% 50.0% 81.8% 57.2%

Yes, that's Peyton Manning in the 6th column. Column 7 is the league average.

What can we see? Well, the Patriots have historically owned the red zone, getting a touchdown on over two-thirds of their drives since 2010. While the weapons aren't the same, Tom Brady is still at the helm and that means that good things will happen. You can see that Manning, with a new offense and a year off, took a 5% production dip when he joined the Broncos. Think of Brady being in a similar boat; it'll take some time to adjust, but he'll make sure the offensive ship is righted.

Fantasy players: buy low. Football fans: get your popcorn ready. This offense is going to start putting up more and more points each week as the return of Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski will change the entire dynamic. This offense won't be anemic for too much longer- that would be nigh impossible.

The Patriots will have more red zone success. It's just a matter of time.

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