MMQB’s Albert Breer wrote about the Falcons’ resurgent offense, as well as potential head coaching candidates in 2017 in his Game Plan column and there are a few Patriots nuggets laced throughout the article.
First, the Patriots get a shout out from Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for their ability to switch up their offense based on whichever players are available at the time.
“People talk about players fitting a system, that’s overrated,” Shanahan said. “Good players fit everyone’s system, a good player will fit your system. Julio fits any system. Our tight ends, Mohamed Sanu, Matt Ryan, they should fit your system. So what is our system? Yeah, we have outside zone, and play-action and keepers off it.
“But coaches need to adjust their system. It changes game-to-game, year-to-year. You see New England, if it’s (Tom) Brady, they’re not running keeper, but you have the other two running bootlegs. You have to match what your guys do, and make it work for them. That’s how you give everyone the best chance.”
The Patriots ran a lot of shallow crossers and drew up simple man-versus-zone reads for rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, they used both Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo on rollouts, and then they allowed Garoppolo to run a more complex game plan. The game plan was different each week since the receivers available were also different.
Kudos to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for the creativity, even if it didn’t come through in week 4 against the Bills. Breer notes that McDaniels should be one of the top coaching candidates in 2017.
“Jimmy Garoppolo’s development puts McDaniels over the top,” Breer writes, “and it’s easy to see Tennessee and Detroit as matches.”
Both the Titans and the Lions have front offices that have branched off from the Patriots and both have young quarterbacks (Marcus Mariota is 22, Matthew Stafford is 28) for McDaniels to develop.
The Titans seem to be the perfect landing spot since they’ve collected a ton of talent at all positions- they’re just hampered by an inept head coach.
Breer also notes that defensive coordinator Matt Patricia could be in line for a head coaching gig, too.
“At 42, [Patricia’s] led Bill Belichick’s D for seven seasons, and is a cerebral type who could appeal to a team like Jacksonville,” Breer notes.
The Jaguars could go a little out of the box on their next coaching hire and Patricia could put together a good plan for a not-untalented roster.
Also, wouldn’t it be fun to see the Texans (head coach and former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, the Titans (theoretical head coach Josh McDaniels), and the Jaguars (theoretical head coach Matt Patricia) just making life miserable for the Colts?
Breer makes another note on Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler and since Cleveland is on the schedule for Sunday, I thought it’d be worth a discussion.
“Hue Jackson..said, “trust me,” after pulling the trigger on the USC quarterback,” Breer writes. “Kessler was the guy the staff had targeted from the jump, after the Rams leapfrogged them and dashed the thought Cleveland would land Jared Goff. And thus far, it’s easy to see why. Kessler has completed 67.1 percent of his throws for 467 yards in his two starts, and validated what the Browns saw pre-draft in the kid’s poise, accuracy and work ethic.”
Kessler will start for the Browns and was selected 93rd overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Patriots selected Jacoby Brissett at 91st overall. I though Kessler was a much better fit for the Patriots offense than Brissett heading into the draft.
Per the Pro Football Focus draft guide, Kessler was the most accurate quarterback in college football. Brissett was one of the five least-accurate quarterbacks. Kessler was one of the quarterbacks most adept at handling pressure. Brissett was one of the least. Kessler ranked second-to-last in deep ball accuracy. Brissett ranked dead-last.
The only quarterbacks that come up worse in skills that the Patriots value were Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg.
The difference comes with the measurables. Kessler stands at 6’1, 220 pounds and doesn’t have a strong arm. Brissett is 6’4, 230 pounds and can throw a football through a brick wall. Brissett also came with the support of Bill Belichick’s semi-estranged mentor Bill Parcells and former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.
If the Patriots wanted a quarterback to step in as a rookie and be able to feature in an offense similar to Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, then Kessler would have been the perfect fit. While he might just be a Brian Hoyer-type in the NFL, at least fits what the Patriots have created on offense. When you have a pre-made roster with skill players that generate yards after the catch, it’s important to find a quarterback that can take advantage of those opportunities.
Of course my critique comes in the same space as Breer and Shanahan discussing how the Patriots do such a great job adjusting the offense to fit the players skill sets.
When you compare the production from both quarterbacks, it’s shockingly similar.
Kessler: 139 snaps; 49/73 (67.1%), 468 total yards, 1 total TD, 1 INT, 3 fumbles, 1 fumble lost
Brissett: 156 snaps; 34/55 (61.8%), 483 total yards, 1 total TD, 0 INTs, 3 fumbles, 1 fumble lost
Brissett has had to run for his yards, while Kessler has passed for them. But their production is pretty much the same.
While I still think Kessler would have been a natural fit with the Patriots, the New England offense made do with Brissett for a game and a half. Belichick’s reliance on personal referrals for players comes with its ups (Mike Lombardi, Nick Saban, Greg Schiano) and downs (Urban Meyer), but time will tell if Brissett’s physical upside will overcome Kessler’s seemingly natural fit in the Patriots offense.