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How the Patriots can utilize their newest WR Michael Floyd on offense

When Floyd is on the field, the Patriots need to find a way to utilize his strengths within the framework of the offense.

The Patriots surprised many by picking up WR Michael Floyd off waivers with just three games to go. The Patriots decided to eat $1.2M in hopes of getting a test trial for a talented WR and get the inside track to sign him to a prove-it deal in the offseason. For Floyd, taking a 1 year deal and playing with Tom Brady as his QB and Bill Belichick as his head coach could be the best move towards re-establishing value. He knows he’s screwed up because the Cardinals are effectively out of the playoff race and he got unceremoniously dumped by the team who drafted him. However, getting claimed by the team many consider the top contender for a Super Bowl title is a second chance. The Patriots will give Floyd a clean slate like they’ve done with many other troubled players in the past.

The big question is how he will fit in the offense. Floyd on the depth chart is the #4 WR behind Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, and Chris Hogan. The Patriots offense minus Rob Gronkowski shifted from mainly 12 to 11 personnel. The Patriots are spreading the field with their WRs and backs more. Edelman, Hogan, and Mitchell have been with the Patriots since May and have more experience in the offense than Floyd. I don’t think the Patriots will ask Floyd to do too much, as a veteran I do expect him to know the difference between man and when to sit down between zones. Floyd does have experience in a similar offense at Notre Dame when former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was the head coach. Weis recruited Floyd, so I have to think the Patriots gave him a call before claiming him and Weis gave Bill a nod of approval.

With a limited knowledge of the offensive system dating back to 7-8 years ago and playing under a different offense the last four seasons under Bruce Arians, Floyd isn’t going to run too many different routes. Floyd’s strengths include size, above average speed, and ability to high-point the ball. That means the Patriots will ask him to run vertical routes such as a go, post, corner, and slant routes. The Patriots will likely have Floyd lining up strictly on the boundary of the formation, mostly as the X, with Edelman, Hogan, and Mitchell all capable of playing the three main WR spots (X, Z, Y/slot) in their 3 WR offense. I would like to see the Patriots work on incorporating back shoulder throws over time as well, as I think Floyd can handle that fine. I think we’ll see him on the field more often in the Red Zone where his size is a weapon on smaller corners. In an area where the margin of error is thin, having a guy who can come up with 50-50 balls is a huge plus.

The Patriots should have a pretty good idea of what type of skill set he brings to the table. The team did extensive advance scouting of the Cardinals prior to their Week 1 matchup, including looking at tape from the Cardinals’ 2015 season where Floyd was a huge part of their success. Josh McDaniels and Chad O’Shea will do their best to get Floyd up to speed in time for the playoffs, even if his route tree will be limited due to no previous knowledge of the playbook. For the Patriots, getting Home Field in Week 16 would be ideal to get Floyd up to speed so he can get some extended time in Week 17 with Jimmy Garoppolo throwing to him against the Dolphins in a meaningless game. For Floyd, joining the Patriots is an opportunity for him to rehabilitate his image and set himself up for a nice payday in the future.