In 2013, the Patriot offense suffered some tough losses via injury and yet was the number 3 scoring offense in the NFL. They were in the AFC Title game but could not over come their offensive short comings in the end. Falling to Denver 26-16....
A friend passed on to me that since Super Bowl XLII, the New England Patriots, have not scored more than 25 points in games that really matter. In three AFC title games and one more Super Bowl they have cracked the 20 point margin one time. And that was against the Ravens in 2012.
With these losses several things have stood out to me that need to improve this season.
1. It is hard to win games when your best receiver isn't playing. Due to injuries, Gronk just has not been available for the Patriots when they have gotten into some of these scrapes. Its not his fault that he has been injured. But his loss has been felt throughout the entire offense. My hope is that the TE position doesn't need to be spectacular. They just need to be consistently good.
2. The wide receivers must step up. I still feel like Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, Aaron Dobson, Mark Harrison, and Jeremy Gallon must play significant roles in the offense. While there have been great rumblings as to why Bill did not draft another TE to help out. Or another receiver, no one knows what the young group of pass catchers has to offer. Dobson gets a lot of press because of his skill set and size. But Thompkins, Boyce, Harrison, and Gallon could offer just as much.
While Gronk's absence has been harped on from many different angles. His absence would not be noticeable had another wide receiver stepped up in his absence.
3. Balance on offense. The Patriots, prior to last season had become the type of team that they used to beat up on. At one point The Patriots were a power team. The team evolved, or devolved into a finesse team. The dial has been pushed back towards the power side of the spectrum recently, with the addition of bigger tackles Sabastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, and Nate Solder. And this past draft with Brian Stork, Jon Halapio, and Cameron Fleming possibly contributing inside.
With more size along the lines, my thinking is that by running the ball more, they will protect Tom Brady by taking the ball out of his hands for maybe 5-6 plays a game. Allowing him to not take the pounding that he took last season when he was sacked 40 times. Though not all of that was on Tom or the line. Size may mean that NE will not be pushed around by bigger teams who can get physical with the Patriots line. Foiling the offensive rhythm all together.
But by being more balanced with the run, teams will be forced to come out of a lot of exotic packages designed to get after Tom. And create more favorable match ups for the receivers.
4. Manufacturing points has been tough to do at times for the Patriots. They have to be able to score touchdowns when the time comes. While no team can do that all the time, its when you do it that matters. This is an area that NE has seriously struggled in when big games have come along. Be it regular season or post season. Often settling for field goals when the end zone was a short distance away.