The Patriots have had one of the most productive offenses in football over the past five years. Starting with the record-setting group of 2007, each year has seen a potent group putting loads of points on the board in New England.
That projects to be the case once again in 2012 with Tom Brady still at the helm. He has several quality options to turn to in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (obviously when healthy) as well as Wes Welker and newcomer Brandon Lloyd. Deion Branch has returned as well. So, with that proven firepower, it would figure to be among the most productive units in football once again.
Despite the past success of many of the components of the group, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Brady himself have consistently talked about the need to balance things more and find more options. Rather than relying on Welker and the tight ends, adding Stevan Ridley, Julian Edelman and Lloyd into the mix could potentially make the offense even harder to deal with.
The results in Week 1 were solid but a dip in Week 2 has sparked some criticism of the play calling and overall offensive design. So we decided to debate the topic in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case.
Our question is: Should the Patriots continue trying to make the offense more diverse?
PFW's And Hart says ...
As a proponent of the Patriots having a more complementary running attack, I can't be critical of Josh McDaniels' efforts through two weeks just because New England is coming off a disappointing home loss. I still think the team will be better in the long run – would have been better off in its last two trips to the Super Bowl – with a more established running game.
You can't just flick a switch in late November and decide you want to be a team that's competitive on the ground. That foundation has to be poured earlier than that. I also think the team is trying to avoid becoming too predictable in the passing game. You don't want to have another veteran receiver who can't find his role in the offense – i.e. Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson. New England will be better off over time with Stevan Ridley running well and Brandon Lloyd a reliable option added to the returning cast of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker.
Right now McDaniels is getting work in that will help the cause in January and February. The offense is making deposits into a bank account upon which it will be able to draw from later in the year. The early road may be a bit bumpy, but that road could very well lead to a more fruitful final destination than the Patriots have experienced in recent years. Stay the course, Josh, stay the course!
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
Obviously the more ways a team has to win the better off that team will be. So I am in no way advocating eliminating running the ball from the equation. However, I don't see the "many flaws" with the team's offense in recent years that some others have pointed to recently.
The Patriots have been able to move the ball in virtually every game since 2007 – including the Super Bowls by the way. There have been some games when the points haven't been quite as high, but I'm not so quick to point to imperfect construction and over-reliance on the passing game as the main reasons.
The Patriots will be better when running the football this year because Stevan Ridley is a better back than Laurence Maroney and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They don't need to run it more often; just more effectively. With Ridley the opportunity for big plays on the ground exist whereas in the recent past they did not.
But until someone proves it can shut down Tom Brady and this passing attack consistently, why make wholesale changes. I want to continue throwing it out of spread formations with quick timing passes to the tight ends and Wes Welker. Sprinkle in others if you choose, but I know the tight ends are a matchup nightmare. They keep defensive coordinators up at night. Ridley does not. In fact, I'd bet opposing defense invite the Patriots to run the ball because it shortens the game and gives less potent teams the opportunity to remain close.
It's been the defense, not the offense, that has prevented championships from being won. Fortunately it looks like improvements have been made on that side, but as far as offense goes – if it ain't broke, don't fix it. --PP
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll.