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Patriots Replay Sat Apr 20 | 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Offensive explosions and other playoff musings

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I have wrote multiple times begging for our offense to go back to short to medium passes and the results are in front of us. 1) We were able to control the clock and keep Philip Rivers on the bench, taking almost half of 1st Qtr to score. 2) We were able to gas out the Chargers defense which was very visible later in the game. They were not able to make a stop, get pressure on Brady or get turnover. The defense was essentially neutralized. 3) We were able to run short bursts since the second level defenders had to cover middle of the ground for short passes and allowed us to keep playing screen or RPO. This is exactly why I love this style of football and I hope we do it again in KC. A quick question, did our defense got tired in second half or were we simply playing prevent defense with the game locked in?

Sandy Patel

Clearly the offensive game plan against the Chargers was brilliant, but don’t mistake that for being the answer in all situations. First, the Patriots offense has featured short passes for the vast majority of Tom Brady’s career. With few exceptions – such as the Randy Moss years when the offense broke all kinds of records – Brady has consistently used quick, short throws to keep the pressure on opposing secondaries and the pressure off in terms of the pass rush. This had worked effectively for New England for the better part of two decades. It worked perfectly against the Chargers defense that featured a number of extra defensive backs, which allowed the Patriots to overpower them in the running game and forced them to tackle Julian Edelman in space, which they failed to do. It may be a similar game plan against Kansas City but may not necessarily work as well depending on how the Chiefs choose to defend the Patriots. If the Chiefs play more man coverage, as an example, that may lead to more throws downfield in an effort to make big plays. Against zones, there are gaps that make shorter throws easier to complete, and Brady does this better than anyone who has ever played. He destroys zones. That’s what made Sunday’s performance so dominant … the Chargers played almost exclusively zone and Brady was almost exclusively perfect.

Paul Perillo

I flew from San Diego with my wife, who sadly and fruitlessly rooted for Chargers. It was a great game and I couldn’t help think ahead to KC and I have a question and a comment. My comment is beyond a doubt Phillip Dorsett should get more snaps than Chris Hogan and my question is what do you think about J.C. Jackson on Travis Kelce? Patrick Chung clearly can’t cover him and J.C. is a big corner that is extremely aggressive and I think his physical nature would do well against Kelce. What do you think? And if you disagree then who DO you put on him?

Michael Rhodes

Dorsett has done a nice job of maximizing his opportunities this season and has generally caught the passes that have been thrown his way. Most of those have been for modest gains, but he’s also found his way into the end zone a bit and those plays have been quite important. I agree with you that I feel he’s earned more looks than Hogan, but it’s pretty clear that the coaches feel the two players have different roles and believe Hogan is more effective in his than Dorsett would be. Not saying I agree with this because, as I said, I feel Dorsett has done more with limited opportunities that Hogan has. But either way, both will see plenty of action and will be needed. As for dealing with Kelce, Chung has done a decent job against him in the past. He caught five passes for 61 yards in October and five for 40 in the season opener last year. Kelce is a great tight end so he will make some plays, but Chung has been competitive against him. Jackson has been impressive but he’s still just a rookie and he’s not used to playing against 6-6, 260-pound receivers who can run like that. There will be some extra attention paid to Kelce and Tyreek Hill I’m sure, but I don’t love the idea of Jackson taking on Kelce by himself.

Paul Perillo

If the Chiefs take out Julian Edelman with a double-team how "jumbo" can Patriots go to move the ball on KC? Can Pats have both TEs plus James Develin to plow the defenders in some jumbo package?

Martin Ness

The Patriots can use both Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen with Develin as much as they want, but that might not be the best course of action. The coaches will figure out ways to move the ball against what has been a pretty bad Chiefs defense and if that means finding targets other than Edelman I’m not sure that means it will have to be with a power running game. I’d look for Josh McDaniels to continue to try to stay balanced but not necessarily by using an extra amount of jumbo looks. I also would be surprised if the Chiefs were able to keep Edelman in check. Based on what we saw against the Chargers, Edelman is playing his best football of the season.

Paul Perillo

As I recall game 6 against the Chiefs, Rex Burkhead was out but Josh Gordon was in and scored. J.C. Jackson is now in for Eric Rowe who played then. Chiefs were missing some key defenders in that game who are coming back next week but they would not have Kareem Hunt. Would you give an overall edge to Chiefs in terms of returning talent from game 6?

Peter Nobell

As you said, both sides had players missing and will be missing players who played, so I don’t really think that’s a huge deal. Justin Houston and Greg Sorensen are two defenders the Chiefs will have who didn’t play in the game, and possibly Eric Berry as well. That should help, but I also feel the Patriots offense has evolved a bit after last week’s strong showing against the Chargers. Gordon is gone but Edelman looks to be much stronger than he was back then just two weeks after returning from his suspension. Hunt is a big loss for the Chiefs offense but they haven’t really missed him as Damian Williams has filled a similar role. Bill Belichick will certainly downplay the impact that game will have but you are correct in pointing out some significant personnel that has changed on both sides.

Paul Perillo

Even if nobody says it in the media, but we all know that Patriots might have let their trip to SB escape from them in that last play in Miami. Why? Patriots and KC are very different teams when they are playing at home and on the road, and it would be foolish to dismiss it where the AFC game would be played, wouldn't it?

Stan C.

Not sure why you would think nobody in the media has mentioned this because it has obviously a very common line of thinking around New England recently in light of the fact that the Patriots are on the road for the conference title game. In simplest form, this is correct. If not for a fluky letdown on the game’s final play in Miami, the Patriots would be hosting Sunday’s game. But the reality isn’t necessarily the same. There are countless plays that happen during the course of a season, and any one of them could have changed the outcome of a game and therefore changed the Patriots record. That Miami game alone featured a pair of blocked punts, one of which led to a touchdown. Without it, maybe the game wouldn’t have come down the final play. In Chicago the Patriots scored on a blocked punt and a kickoff return, and the Bears were stopped a yard short of a potential touchdown on the final play. Again, one play can be the difference between winning and losing, and over the course of 16 games the unconventional ones like these tend to even out. The Patriots easily could be hosting the Chiefs, and they also easily could have been playing on wild card weekend if not for a last-second field goal by the Eagles to beat the Texans in Week 16. Again, lots of games change on one play.

Paul Perillo

Bill Belichick did not want Eric Mangini to become the head coach of the Jets back in the day, and when Mangini took that job anyway, the relationship between he and BB was forever strained. Now that Brian Flores is likely going to become the head coach of another AFC East division team, Miami, does this sit well with BB? If not, what is the difference?

Peggy Sawyer

This is a question that would be best offered to Belichick, although I’m sure he wouldn’t give much of an answer. From my view he despises the Jets and really only the Jets. I think he feels he was mistreated with the whole Bill Parcells stepping down saga back in 2000 before he became the Patriots coach. It seems to be he’s held a grudge over comments that a member of the Jets organization made at the time, and therefore he felt betrayed when Mangini left to take that job. Many others have left to take jobs with various team – Romeo Crennel went to Cleveland, where Belichick once coached, and there was no animosity. I don’t believe Belichick has ill will toward Miami like he does the Jets, but we’ll see.

Paul Perillo

Having watched these guys all season, I was not confident in a win. I can honestly say that the Patriots pleasantly surprised me with their effort against the Chargers. I feel that going forward that playing the next game in KC doesn’t really matter because it’s an outside game. Bring on the winter weather. I know we've all heard this before, but truer words have never been spoken: "In Bill we trust"_

Dave Phillips

Chattanooga, Tenn._

It’s OK to admit that you had some reservations heading into the Chargers game. Doesn’t make you a bad person for watching the regular season and not being sure what you might see in the playoffs. I was pretty confident that the Patriots would win because they were playing at home where they went 8-0, but I wasn’t completely sure and felt it would be a very close game. I was wrong as well. The Patriots put forth what I felt was by far their best performance of the year, and against a quality opponent. But I don’t want to make the same mistake this week and overestimate what I saw. It was one game and Belichick explains how each game changes all the time. The Patriots played great and if they approach that level again in Kansas City they will have a great shot to win. If they play as they did on the road this season, they likely won’t. The only thing we know is it is supposed to be very cold. How that impacts the game is anyone’s guess.

Paul Perillo

If Brian Flores takes the Dolphins job could you see BB going outside the organization and getting Gregg Williams? If I remember correctly he is a highly regarded defensive mind and could add some nasty to our defense. Just curious to hear your thoughts on what the possibilities are for a potential coaching vacancy. Thanks as always

Keith Henderson

The only time I feel going outside the organization is a possibility with Belichick is when he finds a guy he already has a connection with. In this case, I wouldn’t be stunned to see Greg Schiano, the former Rutgers and Tampa Bay head coach, get a called from his good friend Belichick. Schiano left Ohio State after the season and will be available, and various media reports have tied him to the Patriots even if Flores doesn’t wind up leaving. Schiano has NFL experience and is a respected defensive coach. It would seem to make some sense. Otherwise, I look at defensive line coach Brendan Daly as a possibility to see an increased role.

Paul Perillo

I believe that we can be a more explosive offense by taking advantage of Phillip Dorsett’s speed. If Tom Brady runs play action and has Dorsett run deep routes we can get chunk yards because he can run by DBs. Indy was successful doing this with Dorsett. Why haven’t the Patriots used him in this way?

John Romero

I haven’t really seen Dorsett display the ability to open deep on a consistent basis. Against the Chargers on Sunday he went deep on one play and was covered pretty well on a pass that Brady threw away toward the inside. Dorsett has shown the ability to make plays on shorter routes and has contributed in that regard down the stretch. And I also think Brady has struggled this season when trying to push the ball downfield with any regularity. There might be a big play to be made but I haven’t see Dorsett consistently getting behind the defense this season.

Paul Perillo

I just saw that McDaniels is "closing the book" on exploring other coaching opportunities for the 2019 season. As I am watching the Colts get hot and looking like a legitimate contender for a championship, I am questioning the motives surrounding keeping McDaniels here last season. Josh was all set to go to Indy but rescinded based on conversations he had with Bill and Kraft the evening he went to clean out his locker. It seems Bill laid it all on the line to keep Josh around. My theory is Bill knew what Indy had from a talent perspective and was fearful of what a coach of Josh's caliber could do to tap that talent and produce a dangerous NFL team- in the AFC too nonetheless. That coupled with all the inside knowledge Josh has received during his time in NE would make Indy a threat to Bill and his Patriots. Bill saw his opportunity to block the inception of a potential AFC powerhouse while also keeping his offensive mastermind intact and preserving the knowledge and secret sauce of the organization by keeping McDaniels in Foxboro and leaving the Colts to scramble for a less than stellar head coach. This seemed to backfire when the Colts brought on Frank Reich who seems to have figured it out after rebounding from an abysmal 1-5 start and has his Colts being viewed as a legitimate contender. What are your thoughts on this theory? Adam Naessig

I honestly don’t have any idea as to why McDaniels decided to back out of the Indy job to stay here. The prevailing theory is that McDaniels was told he would be the heir apparent to Bill Belichick and therefore Robert Kraft convinced him to stay. I also think he may have had some second thoughts about Andrew Luck’s health, which at that time was very much in doubt. I don’t feel it had anything to do with any fear of the Colts becoming a power under McDaniels’ leadership. There really was nothing to suggest that at the time considering the two biggest factors in the Colts resurgence are Luck’s comeback and an incredible draft that was still months away at the time. Without both, the Colts wouldn’t have been in the playoffs.

Paul Perillo

I know we are on to Kansas City but I’m hoping you can clarify a question from the Chargers game. The Patriots challenged the ruling on the field that the Chargers receiver was down by contact. After review, the referee stated that the receiver had actually fumbled but the Patriots had not recovered the fumble. Tony Romo and Jim Nantz then commented that the Patriots had lost a timeout. My question, by ruling it was a fumble, wasn’t the original call on the field reversed? Gary Madera

East Hanover, N.J.

This play generated a lot of talk in the press box at the time for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was why the officials allowed the challenge to go through in the first place. Mike Williams clearly recovered the fumble and I was surprised when Ron Tolbert allowed Belichick to challenge. I also wondered why the challenge was considered lost since there was actually a fumble on the play. But the rule is if there is no change of possession as a result of the fumble, then the challenge goes down as unsuccessful. The same thing happens with the spotting of the ball. As an example let’s say a runner is ruled short of the first down but the coach challenges the spot. There have been times when the officials change the spot and move it closer but if it is still short of the line to gain it is considered an unsuccessful challenge. Basically they don’t want an influx of challenges on the spot of the ball unless there is a first down to be gained or lost. A quirky play to be sure.

Paul Perillo

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