WC Pre-Game Thread: Tennessee

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BigSoxFan

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We've talked a lot about Brady's status, but Michel's numbers are not good either, and they should really try to upgrade there. He had 3 big plays in ~250 carries.
Well, that’s why we got Damien Harr....err nevermind
 

BaseballJones

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Digging further into the end of year NFL stats...woof. The Pats won 12 games despite having bottom third of the league production from QB, lead RB, tight ends, and receivers.

We've talked a lot about Brady's status, but Michel's numbers are not good either, and they should really try to upgrade there. He had 3 big plays in ~250 carries. That doesn't stack up well at all with other lead backs, even guys running behind worse offensive lines. You can't roll Brady back out there again and try to go with more of a power offense when your running back can't make plays consistently.

If they are going to stay in this game Saturday night, they need Harry to keep quickly developing, one hell of a gameplan on offense, and a couple of turnovers from the D.
Michel was good the last three games of the year. He’s coming around at just the right time. And the eye test shows, to me anyway, that he’s running better than he was. He’s not the problem.
 

Seels

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Well, that’s why we got Damien Harr....err nevermind
Didn't understand the pick at the time, understand it even less now. He's been a healthy scratch every game. Granted, they have players in front of him. But why pick him if that's the case? Especially when the team had obvious needs at WR / TE / OL

As for Michel, my problem is it seems like he's never going to be more than just a guy. We can make excuses for the weapons around him on offense, and they have some truth behind them, but Michel never makes the play happen on his own either. Aside from the Miami game, Michel couldn't have been less of a factor in the games they lost. A first round pick shouldn't need perfect conditions to get the job done.
 

Foxy42

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My chiropractor suggested that I need to stand taller, “like Sony Michel trying to score from the 1”...
 

Captaincoop

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Didn't understand the pick at the time, understand it even less now. He's been a healthy scratch every game. Granted, they have players in front of him. But why pick him if that's the case? Especially when the team had obvious needs at WR / TE / OL

As for Michel, my problem is it seems like he's never going to be more than just a guy. We can make excuses for the weapons around him on offense, and they have some truth behind them, but Michel never makes the play happen on his own either. Aside from the Miami game, Michel couldn't have been less of a factor in the games they lost. A first round pick shouldn't need perfect conditions to get the job done.
It's not like he was great against Miami. 4.1 ypc, long of nine yards.

Just a guy is the right description.
 

Super Nomario

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Didn't understand the pick at the time, understand it even less now. He's been a healthy scratch every game. Granted, they have players in front of him. But why pick him if that's the case? Especially when the team had obvious needs at WR / TE / OL
Depth matters. Michel, White, and Burkhead combined missed only three games (and Bolden played 15 also). Last year, the four RBs who made the Week 1 roster missed a combined 26 games (Hill 15, Burkhead 8, Michel 3) and they had stretches where they moved Cordarrelle Patterson to RB. If this year's RB corps had last year's health, we would have seen a lot more Harris.

(They also did draft a WR in Harry and drafted two OL, but both Cajuste and Froholdt missed the whole season)
 

JMDurron

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Digging further into the end of year NFL stats...woof. The Pats won 12 games despite having bottom third of the league production from QB, lead RB, tight ends, and receivers.

We've talked a lot about Brady's status, but Michel's numbers are not good either, and they should really try to upgrade there. He had 3 big plays in ~250 carries. That doesn't stack up well at all with other lead backs, even guys running behind worse offensive lines. You can't roll Brady back out there again and try to go with more of a power offense when your running back can't make plays consistently.

If they are going to stay in this game Saturday night, they need Harry to keep quickly developing, one hell of a gameplan on offense, and a couple of turnovers from the D.
It's almost as if these numbers are indicating systemic issues with the talent level and health of the entire offense, as opposed to implying that we can analyze a QB or RB individually and draw any meaningful conclusions about their performance...

I really don't understand how anyone can look at this year's offense and think that any one particular change could fix it. Changing Brady out for any non-elite QB in the league seems pointless even in a thought exercise, between the OL issues in the first half of the season and the lack of non-Edelman talent at WR and TE. I suspect you'd lose a large chunk of Edelman's value with any Brady replacement, given their obvious chemistry. Changing Michel out for Barry Sanders might have helped, but I'm not understanding how Chubb is a fair comparison, what with OBJ and Landry making defenses respect the threat of a passing game far more than Edelman and ? would in NE.

An NFL offense is an integrated unit, and I think we need to consider the performance of any of its components as intrinsically linked to the greater whole, as opposed to treating the skill positions and QB as if this were fantasy football. Unfortunately, the Patriots offense has sucked this year, and we can hope that it reaches an acceptable level of mediocrity to permit the defense and ST units to carry them forward in the playoffs, but I think there's no one change we can go back and make to the unit that could have prevented this general outcome.
 

tims4wins

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It's almost as if these numbers are indicating systemic issues with the talent level and health of the entire offense, as opposed to implying that we can analyze a QB or RB individually and draw any meaningful conclusions about their performance...

I really don't understand how anyone can look at this year's offense and think that any one particular change could fix it. Changing Brady out for any non-elite QB in the league seems pointless even in a thought exercise, between the OL issues in the first half of the season and the lack of non-Edelman talent at WR and TE. I suspect you'd lose a large chunk of Edelman's value with any Brady replacement, given their obvious chemistry. Changing Michel out for Barry Sanders might have helped, but I'm not understanding how Chubb is a fair comparison, what with OBJ and Landry making defenses respect the threat of a passing game far more than Edelman and ? would in NE.

An NFL offense is an integrated unit, and I think we need to consider the performance of any of its components as intrinsically linked to the greater whole, as opposed to treating the skill positions and QB as if this were fantasy football. Unfortunately, the Patriots offense has sucked this year, and we can hope that it reaches an acceptable level of mediocrity to permit the defense and ST units to carry them forward in the playoffs, but I think there's no one change we can go back and make to the unit that could have prevented this general outcome.
This nails it. If we could "replace" one position for an upgrade it wouldn't likely help all that much on a skill position, outside of maybe Gronk. The loss of Andrews has hurt tremendously. It's been a cumulative effect of Gronk, the line, and Develin.
 

Captaincoop

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The point is - you need to have plus talent somewhere on the offense. Outside of James White, they don't.

If no one can make plays, it's hard to score. That's the story of the Pats this year on offense.
 

BaseballJones

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This nails it. If we could "replace" one position for an upgrade it wouldn't likely help all that much on a skill position, outside of maybe Gronk. The loss of Andrews has hurt tremendously. It's been a cumulative effect of Gronk, the line, and Develin.
It's not been one thing; it's been the accumulation of a bunch of things.

1. The loss of Andrews. Enormous. He holds all the keys to protection and blocking. As it turns out, he's a GREAT center. Karras has been better than Ferentz, but the drop-off from Andrews to Karras has been huge.

2. The loss of Develin. The best blocking FB in the league, he just is a wrecking ball out there. They have simply not been able to replace him or what he brings to the table. Roberts, ironically, is starting to get it, and as he's improved, the running game has improved too. But for most of the season, this was just a glaring glaring hole.

3. The loss of Trent Brown. This had to happen, as he was commanding a ridiculous salary, but we forget just how good he was last year. An absolute monster at LT. Wynn is, and will be, a pretty solid LT in the league for many years, but he's not yet at the level that Brown was at last year.

4. The health of Cannon and Mason. Those guys each suffered through stretches where they were either OUT or really banged up. It affected their play in a noticeable fashion. Both guys, when healthy and playing at their best, are pro-bowl caliber offensive linemen, but they haven't been close to that this year. Some of it is the health, and some of it is Andrews-related, with Mason having to help cover for Karras, leaving Cannon with no help on the outside. Given his sketchy health, leaving him on an island just hasn't been good.

5. The loss of Gronkowski. He wasn't GRONK last year, but he was still really good. And the best blocking TE we've seen in the NFL in a long time. His mere presence opens things up for other players as he commands so much attention. The drop-off from Gronk to Watson/Lacosse is just off the charts in magnitude.

6. The loss of Gordon and Thomas. Maybe these seem like smaller deals, but they were going into the season pretty stacked at WR. They traded Thomas when it was clear that AB was available. Then they got rid of Gordon when he became unreliable. Obviously Gordon is out of the NFL right now so that was prescient, but still...they don't have another WR as good as him. Thomas was a sneaky bad loss, as he brought a solid veteran presence at WR. Not the biggest loss, but it all adds up.

7. The injury to Harry. Really slowed his development. I think he's gonna be a good NFL WR when all is said and done, and clearly they're integrating him more and more, but they were hoping he'd be further along NOW than he is. The injury set him back.

8. The health of Edelman. Huge. Enormous. The guy is an absolute warrior, but he's clearly not EDELMAN right now. Even with Gronk, Edelman was the one who made it all go.

9. The decline of Brady. It's real. He's not declined into "awful" status or anything, but he's also clearly not peak TOM BRADY. Clearly. There's just no arguing with it, as much as some people might want to. Peak Tom Brady would have been putting up 27 points a game even with all they lost. He can't do that now and needs more help.

10. The kicking problems. Folk has done well, but before that, they were really really really struggling at K. Just giving away points in so many games, it was troublesome.

11. The decline of the defense. They started out like a house of fire, putting up record-setting numbers. Then things got real, and the defense slowed down. It's still "good", but the last 8 weeks have seen a marked drop-off in performance. With that has come fewer turnovers generated, and more first downs and yardage allowed, which has meant that the offense has had to work harder to score points - getting fewer opportunities (as teams have held the ball more), and worse field position.

So it's been a whole lot of things contributing to the team's problems. And yet here we are at 12-4 hosting a playoff game. There are worse situations to be in, and there's hope for improvement next year as some of these things will likely be better.
 

tims4wins

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And just to tack on - it’s not like the 2018 offense was even that good. So all of the personnel issues have taken this from a decent offense to a bad one. Not from great to decent or whatever.
 

BaseballJones

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And just to tack on - it’s not like the 2018 offense was even that good. So all of the personnel issues have taken this from a decent offense to a bad one. Not from great to decent or whatever.
Well last year they had the #4 scoring, and #5 yardage offense in the NFL. They averaged 27.3 points a game. Their last three games going into the Super Bowl they scored 38, 41, and 37 points. So I'd say they were better than "decent". But not like their peak seasons for sure.
 

Super Nomario

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It's not been one thing; it's been the accumulation of a bunch of things.
I think this is right. I think we've been overrating the various losses individually, but the collective impact has been big. I think these all lead into each other, too. Defenses can press the WR because they trust the pass rush to get home against weaker protection. Or they can blitz and trust the back end to hold up despite limited numbers. The quarterback has a tremendous amount of information to process in a short period of time; this is one of Brady's strengths, but he doesn't seem to be able to trust what he sees because he doesn't know if everyone around them can do their jobs. Everything compounds everything else.

2. The loss of Develin. The best blocking FB in the league, he just is a wrecking ball out there. They have simply not been able to replace him or what he brings to the table. Roberts, ironically, is starting to get it, and as he's improved, the running game has improved too. But for most of the season, this was just a glaring glaring hole.

3. The loss of Trent Brown. This had to happen, as he was commanding a ridiculous salary, but we forget just how good he was last year. An absolute monster at LT. Wynn is, and will be, a pretty solid LT in the league for many years, but he's not yet at the level that Brown was at last year.
I actually think both of these are a little overblown. The run game was godawful even when Develin was there early in the year, and hasn't rallied until recent weeks. And Brown was great in the playoffs, but he was up-and-down throughout the season. I'm not sure Wynn is really a downgrade, though the eight weeks of Newhouse definitely was.

5. The loss of Gronkowski. He wasn't GRONK last year, but he was still really good. And the best blocking TE we've seen in the NFL in a long time. His mere presence opens things up for other players as he commands so much attention. The drop-off from Gronk to Watson/Lacosse is just off the charts in magnitude.
Yup. Gronk's 682 receiving yards, as much of a decline from peak Gronk as it was, would rank second on the 2019 Pats, and he was still really efficient (65% catch rate and 14.5 yards per catch).

6. The loss of Gordon and Thomas. Maybe these seem like smaller deals, but they were going into the season pretty stacked at WR. They traded Thomas when it was clear that AB was available. Then they got rid of Gordon when he became unreliable. Obviously Gordon is out of the NFL right now so that was prescient, but still...they don't have another WR as good as him. Thomas was a sneaky bad loss, as he brought a solid veteran presence at WR. Not the biggest loss, but it all adds up.
Chris Hogan had 35 catches for 532 yards last year. That's not great for a guy who played as much as he did, but they haven't replaced that production. Dorsett struggled in a bigger role. Harry and Sanu have been very inefficient in limited work (less than 9 yards per catch, less than 60% catch rate).

To my eyes, even though the offensive production has continued to be poor, the shape and cause of that struggle has shifted. The OL was bad with Newhouse and Karras, and Mason and Cannon were having down years. But they had Gordon and Dorsett was playing better, and Edelman was having his best year. With Wynn back and better cohesion, the OL has righted itself, and the run blocking and pass protection have been much better for about a month. But Brady is hurt, Edelman is hurt, Sanu is hurt, Gordon is gone, Dorsett has been kind of a mess, and Harry has had rookie struggles.

7. The injury to Harry. Really slowed his development. I think he's gonna be a good NFL WR when all is said and done, and clearly they're integrating him more and more, but they were hoping he'd be further along NOW than he is. The injury set him back.
I wasn't a big fan of IRing Harry at the time ( nor Wynn a few weeks later). Based on what was reported at the time, his injury seemed more week-to-week. The "mental reps" he got while rehabbing have not helped him hit the ground running. Now we're out of time. You wonder if they had to do it over again if they would have just tried to keep him on the roster for a few weeks and let him get back to practice a lot sooner.

And just to tack on - it’s not like the 2018 offense was even that good. So all of the personnel issues have taken this from a decent offense to a bad one. Not from great to decent or whatever.
It was still a top-10 offense last year, but that was a dropoff from years past, and it was really inconsistent.
 

tims4wins

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I actually think both of these are a little overblown. The run game was godawful even when Develin was there early in the year, and hasn't rallied until recent weeks. And Brown was great in the playoffs, but he was up-and-down throughout the season. I'm not sure Wynn is really a downgrade, though the eight weeks of Newhouse definitely was.
Develin hasn't played a snap this year...?
 

PedroKsBambino

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To my eyes, even though the offensive production has continued to be poor, the shape and cause of that struggle has shifted. The OL was bad with Newhouse and Karras, and Mason and Cannon were having down years. But they had Gordon and Dorsett was playing better, and Edelman was having his best year. With Wynn back and better cohesion, the OL has righted itself, and the run blocking and pass protection have been much better for about a month. But Brady is hurt, Edelman is hurt, Sanu is hurt, Gordon is gone, Dorsett has been kind of a mess, and Harry has had rookie struggles.
Mine as well. The line play isn't good now, but also isn't as awful as it was in the Newhouse days.

One other note on Gronk: not only was he a passing threat, he was a spectacular blocker. The difference between Michel being able to run behind Gronk and Develin and this year is pretty huge (though Roberts has helped recently on that).

I believe another source of problem is not adjusting to the reality of what this offense can do. They need to strip down the playbook and do what they can execute, leaving behind a lot of the more creative stuff they've done with success. That doesn't mean taking out trickery---they probably need all that. I think it means taking out many of the longer routes, more complicated and slower developing passing plays, etc. If they have success offensively, I believe it will be like last year, through executing a pretty simple set of things very well and mixing in the occasional trick play, long pass, etc.

I am a lot more optimistic on Harry than some; I think there's a chance he has a huge game or two if they stick around long enough.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Develin hasn't played a snap this year...?
He played the first two weeks. According to Pro-football reference, 46% and 37% of snaps, respectively.

Still a pretty small sample size to be going off of, especially considering he was most likely fighting through neck/back issues in those two games before shutting it down.
 

TheMoralBully

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The point is - you need to have plus talent somewhere on the offense. Outside of James White, they don't.

If no one can make plays, it's hard to score. That's the story of the Pats this year on offense.
I agree with this. The Browns aren't any better on offense than the Patriots this year, with their passing game and o-line play even grading out as being worse. Chubb isn't the beneficiary of a strong offensive system, he's just a top talent while Michel isn't. Even when Michel is running well, he's not breaking tackles or coming up with long gains. He's probably pretty close to a standard league-average RB, who isn't going to hurt you and can at least be seen as pretty reliable, I guess. He's not the problem, but he's symptomatic of the Patriots just not having any real top talent at any position on offense, and they're not able to sustain the long drives we've been accustomed to in the past.
 

BaseballJones

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I agree with this. The Browns aren't any better on offense than the Patriots this year, with their passing game and o-line play even grading out as being worse. Chubb isn't the beneficiary of a strong offensive system, he's just a top talent while Michel isn't. Even when Michel is running well, he's not breaking tackles or coming up with long gains. He's probably pretty close to a standard league-average RB, who isn't going to hurt you and can at least be seen as pretty reliable, I guess. He's not the problem, but he's symptomatic of the Patriots just not having any real top talent at any position on offense, and they're not able to sustain the long drives we've been accustomed to in the past.
Edelman, when healthy, is a top talent at WR. Not top top, but he's excellent. Problem is, he's all sorts of banged up. White is also a top receiving talent at RB. But his skill set, while very nice, is limited.

The rest of the guys they have on offense are ok. Kind of like those commercials. Just ok is not ok.

 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Edelman, when healthy, is a top talent at WR. Not top top, but he's excellent. Problem is, he's all sorts of banged up. White is also a top receiving talent at RB. But his skill set, while very nice, is limited.

The rest of the guys they have on offense are ok. Kind of like those commercials. Just ok is not ok.
I hate to do the "little white guy" comp, but I'm going to. Wes Welker was cooked and retired at 34 years old. Edelman turns 34 in a few months. Doubling Edelman isn't some new, revolutionary concept. It's been tried in the past. My concern is that, with his age, he's not as effective at the double whammy of (1) reading the option in real-time to figure out his best route, and (2) creating separation/finding soft spots in the zone after making his read. Especially when fighting through man/zone double coverage. Hes good, but hes nowhere near as explosive as he used to be.

Edelman is averaging 6 targets a game the last 3 weeks. The guy was averaging 12 targets per game in the previous 8 weeks. Yes, he's being doubled the last few weeks. And, while that isn't new, maybe the inability to find any other outlets has helped to neuter the offense. But usually the fans don't notice players fall off the cliff until they're almost hit the ground. Coaches - and especially guys like BB who would rather drop a guy 1 year early instead of 1 year late - tend to notice this stuff sooner. They're aggressive pursuit of Adam Humphries this offseason is telling. I've maintained for nearly a decade that this offense goes as the slot receiver goes, not as Gronk goes. These playoffs hang on the hope of Edelman finding another level.
 

Shaky Walton

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Your point boils down to "the Pats played poorly in their last game, how are they going to play better their next game?" But this is a fallacy - if the Pats had lost to the Dolphins in Week, say, 8, and played the Titans the following week, no one would be saying "wow the Pats lost last week, how are they going to turn a switch and win next week"? The mere fact that it's now the playoffs shouldn't change that.

This article is now a bit out of date but I think the point remains, which is that how the Patriots performed the week prior has historically said next to nothing about how the Patriots perform in any given week.
I'm responding to this late in the game but here goes.

I agree that one game is not indicative and my post was poorly written in that regard. As Belichick pointed out on the NFL 100 show, Brady (and the team) often plays very well after a loss or down performance.

What underlies my prior post is the view that other than the Buffalo game, the offense has looked off kilter and ineffective for nearly all of the second half of the season and really since the middle of the first Jets. With Edelman hurt, other WRs not getting open and dropping passes at an alarming rate, very little out of the TEs, Brady being under severe pressure in many games and Brady being less effective and accurate than he's been in the past, what we saw against Miami was not altogether surprising. In many ways, it's who they have been, especially on offense. To be sure, losing a game they had to have to the lowly Fins, and seeing the D come up small in the 4th quarter, was a huge shock to the system. The Pats never lose those types of games. But the team we saw against Miami is kind of who they have been; a team that doesn't score a lot (at least compared with Pats teams in the past), punts a lot, is prone to 3 and outs way more than the past, and has trouble when it does not come with turnovers and big plays on special teams.

Given that, the prospect of beating a playoff team 6 days later seems less than rosy to me. No doubt, they can. I would not bet the Titans on the money line. The Bil/Tom/Josh Combo is tough, and perhaps Edelman has somehow healed up, as he has said. But still, this is the least confident I've been heading into a home playoff game since...ever.
 
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I hate to do the "little white guy" comp, but I'm going to. Wes Welker was cooked and retired at 34 years old. Edelman turns 34 in a few months. Doubling Edelman isn't some new, revolutionary concept. It's been tried in the past. My concern is that, with his age, he's not as effective at the double whammy of (1) reading the option in real-time to figure out his best route, and (2) creating separation/finding soft spots in the zone after making his read. Especially when fighting through man/zone double coverage. Hes good, but hes nowhere near as explosive as he used to be.

Edelman is averaging 6 targets a game the last 3 weeks. The guy was averaging 12 targets per game in the previous 8 weeks. Yes, he's being doubled the last few weeks. And, while that isn't new, maybe the inability to find any other outlets has helped to neuter the offense. But usually the fans don't notice players fall off the cliff until they're almost hit the ground. Coaches - and especially guys like BB who would rather drop a guy 1 year early instead of 1 year late - tend to notice this stuff sooner. They're aggressive pursuit of Adam Humphries this offseason is telling. I've maintained for nearly a decade that this offense goes as the slot receiver goes, not as Gronk goes. These playoffs hang on the hope of Edelman finding another level.
I could be wrong, but to me the most likely explanation is indeed the lack of other outlets. With an assist due to the injuries he's been playing through. It's hard to see the cliff right now considering he still produced huge earlier in the year when they had more weapons and he wasn't injured.
 

Super Nomario

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Still a pretty small sample size to be going off of, especially considering he was most likely fighting through neck/back issues in those two games before shutting it down.
Is there reason to think he was hurt before the Miami game? He wasn't listed on the injury report, and the all reporting when he went on IR said that he sustained the injury against the Dolphins.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Is there reason to think he was hurt before the Miami game? He wasn't listed on the injury report, and the all reporting when he went on IR said that he sustained the injury against the Dolphins.
Nope. The reports have been scarce, and generally state he suffered a neck injury in the Miami game. I guess I just have always associated neck and back injuries as long-term "straw that broke the camels back" type issues.
 

[icon]

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I think this is right. I think we've been overrating the various losses individually, but the collective impact has been big. I think these all lead into each other, too. Defenses can press the WR because they trust the pass rush to get home against weaker protection. Or they can blitz and trust the back end to hold up despite limited numbers. The quarterback has a tremendous amount of information to process in a short period of time; this is one of Brady's strengths, but he doesn't seem to be able to trust what he sees because he doesn't know if everyone around them can do their jobs. Everything compounds everything else.


I actually think both of these are a little overblown. The run game was godawful even when Develin was there early in the year, and hasn't rallied until recent weeks. And Brown was great in the playoffs, but he was up-and-down throughout the season. I'm not sure Wynn is really a downgrade, though the eight weeks of Newhouse definitely was.


Yup. Gronk's 682 receiving yards, as much of a decline from peak Gronk as it was, would rank second on the 2019 Pats, and he was still really efficient (65% catch rate and 14.5 yards per catch).


Chris Hogan had 35 catches for 532 yards last year. That's not great for a guy who played as much as he did, but they haven't replaced that production. Dorsett struggled in a bigger role. Harry and Sanu have been very inefficient in limited work (less than 9 yards per catch, less than 60% catch rate).

To my eyes, even though the offensive production has continued to be poor, the shape and cause of that struggle has shifted. The OL was bad with Newhouse and Karras, and Mason and Cannon were having down years. But they had Gordon and Dorsett was playing better, and Edelman was having his best year. With Wynn back and better cohesion, the OL has righted itself, and the run blocking and pass protection have been much better for about a month. But Brady is hurt, Edelman is hurt, Sanu is hurt, Gordon is gone, Dorsett has been kind of a mess, and Harry has had rookie struggles.


I wasn't a big fan of IRing Harry at the time ( nor Wynn a few weeks later). Based on what was reported at the time, his injury seemed more week-to-week. The "mental reps" he got while rehabbing have not helped him hit the ground running. Now we're out of time. You wonder if they had to do it over again if they would have just tried to keep him on the roster for a few weeks and let him get back to practice a lot sooner.


It was still a top-10 offense last year, but that was a dropoff from years past, and it was really inconsistent.
Sometimes the sum of parts is greater than the whole....
 

Super Nomario

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I hate to do the "little white guy" comp, but I'm going to. Wes Welker was cooked and retired at 34 years old. Edelman turns 34 in a few months. Doubling Edelman isn't some new, revolutionary concept. It's been tried in the past. My concern is that, with his age, he's not as effective at the double whammy of (1) reading the option in real-time to figure out his best route, and (2) creating separation/finding soft spots in the zone after making his read. Especially when fighting through man/zone double coverage. Hes good, but hes nowhere near as explosive as he used to be.

Edelman is averaging 6 targets a game the last 3 weeks. The guy was averaging 12 targets per game in the previous 8 weeks. Yes, he's being doubled the last few weeks. And, while that isn't new, maybe the inability to find any other outlets has helped to neuter the offense. But usually the fans don't notice players fall off the cliff until they're almost hit the ground. Coaches - and especially guys like BB who would rather drop a guy 1 year early instead of 1 year late - tend to notice this stuff sooner. They're aggressive pursuit of Adam Humphries this offseason is telling. I've maintained for nearly a decade that this offense goes as the slot receiver goes, not as Gronk goes. These playoffs hang on the hope of Edelman finding another level.
I agree the long-term health / viability of Edelman is a concern, but a couple things worth noting re: the bolded
1) The Patriots have been throwing less over the past three weeks. Brady has averaged 38 pass attempts / game for the year and almost 42 for the 8 weeks where Edelman was averaging 12 targets. The last three weeks, Brady's only averaging 30 passes per game. That's a huge difference, so we'd expect Edelman's targets to scale down
2) Edelman has played less over the past three games. He averaged nearly 70 snaps per game over that eight-game period; he's at just 49 snaps per game over the past three.

These two combined with regression (12 targets per game is obviously unsustainable) probably explain virtually all of the bolded difference. But again, it's fair to be concerned about Edelman's health and age, both for tomorrow's game and for 2020 and beyond.
 

BaseballJones

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I agree the long-term health / viability of Edelman is a concern, but a couple things worth noting re: the bolded
1) The Patriots have been throwing less over the past three weeks. Brady has averaged 38 pass attempts / game for the year and almost 42 for the 8 weeks where Edelman was averaging 12 targets. The last three weeks, Brady's only averaging 30 passes per game. That's a huge difference, so we'd expect Edelman's targets to scale down
2) Edelman has played less over the past three games. He averaged nearly 70 snaps per game over that eight-game period; he's at just 49 snaps per game over the past three.

These two combined with regression (12 targets per game is obviously unsustainable) probably explain virtually all of the bolded difference. But again, it's fair to be concerned about Edelman's health and age, both for tomorrow's game and for 2020 and beyond.
One thing we know: Edelman is going to gut it out tomorrow, and it will take a lot for him to be taken out of the game. We know he's going to give it everything he's got. Dude is one tough MFer.
 

E5 Yaz

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Every so often, someone brings up the trade of Demaryus Thomas and I wonder why.

He did not have a stellar year with the Jets and the only preseason game where he looked good was with Stidham at quarterback. What was the guaranteed upside there?

He could have got hurt, he could have not meshed with Brady, he could have struggled like Sanu, There's simply nothing that confirms that he would have been a better option at the start of the season than Gordon or Dorsett projected to be.
 

Euclis20

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Every so often, someone brings up the trade of Demaryus Thomas and I wonder why.

He did not have a stellar year with the Jets and the only preseason game where he looked good was with Stidham at quarterback. What was the guaranteed upside there?

He could have got hurt, he could have not meshed with Brady, he could have struggled like Sanu, There's simply nothing that confirms that he would have been a better option at the start of the season than Gordon or Dorsett projected to be.
It was a defensible move at the time, but had he put up the same numbers this year on the Pats he'd be 3rd in receptions and receiving yards. Certainly lots of ifs to consider, but he was dropped when the Pats had Gordon and Brown and he clearly ended up having a far better year than either of those guys. He was dropped when we had depth, and now we so clearly don't.

Nobody can say the Pats didn't try to shore up the WR slot. They took a high risk upside chance bringing Gordon back, they took a high risk upside chance signing Brown, they acquired Sanu/Thomas as vets with a high floor, and they drafted Harry in the first round. It just hasn't worked out, at all.
 

EL Jeffe

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I think Humphries being out is pretty key for the Pats. Humphries put up disappointing #s for the Titans (37/374), but he's still a dangerous slot receiver and the Patriots have struggled covering the slot in recent weeks. Jones definitely didn't look clean coming out of his breaks in the 2nd half Sunday against Miami, so I assume he was still limited with his groin injury. With rain and a wet field Saturday night, I can't see Jones faring well unless he's actually 100% recovered. No Humphries should help in that regard.

For me, pass rush is the key. When they aren't sacking the QB seems to be when they have their biggest issues. Miami and Houston have lousy OLs, and those were two games where the rush just didn't get home. Henry is Henry; to me it comes down to what they do in the passing game. If Tannehill isn't on the turf with any regularity, it's going to be a big struggle.
 

Super Nomario

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It was a defensible move at the time, but had he put up the same numbers this year on the Pats he'd be 3rd in receptions and receiving yards. Certainly lots of ifs to consider, but he was dropped when the Pats had Gordon and Brown and he clearly ended up having a far better year than either of those guys. He was dropped when we had depth, and now we so clearly don't.

Nobody can say the Pats didn't try to shore up the WR slot. They took a high risk upside chance bringing Gordon back, they took a high risk upside chance signing Brown, they acquired Sanu/Thomas as vets with a high floor, and they drafted Harry in the first round. It just hasn't worked out, at all.
Thomas was hardly a high-floor guy coming off the Achilles at the age of 31-32. He was a gamble just like Gordon.

Belichick has never liked to invest a lot in WR, and after kind of the uncharacteristic trade for Cooks he went back to his WR-stingy ways, trading Cooks and just throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks: Kenny Britt (who was already on the roster), Jordan Matthews, Eric Decker, probably a couple other guys I'm forgetting. That didn't work so he traded for Gordon. This year was more of the same: Thomas, Maurice Harris, Dontrelle Inman, hoping Gordon could come back, etc., and then when all of that failed, he signed Antonio Brown, and then when that failed they had to trade for Sanu. Harry was an actual investment in the position; I think Brown and Sanu were kind of desperate moves recognizing that the lack of receiving talent could sink the season (and still might). Exacerbating things is the uncharacteristic total lack of investment at TE. You could squint and say Thomas and Gordon and Harris were going to be fine at WR, but LaCosse / Watson / Izzo / Lance Kendricks? Blech.
 

Euclis20

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I'm not sure you can call investing a 1st round pick (Harry) and a 2nd round pick (Sanu) and potentially a huge contract (Brown) in the WR position "stingy." It certainly hasn't worked out but it's not for lack of effort. Even if the latter two moves occurred during the season it still counts as these are significant assets.

You can definitely say they punted on the TE position, and that has [predictably] bitten them in the ass.
 

Super Nomario

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I'm not sure you can call investing a 1st round pick (Harry) and a 2nd round pick (Sanu) and potentially a huge contract (Brown) in the WR position "stingy." It certainly hasn't worked out but it's not for lack of effort. Even if the latter two moves occurred during the season it still counts as these are significant assets.
Harry was a real investment. Aside from that, they went cheap at WR, as they often do. It failed, and thus they wound up taking on the risks, expenses, and limited options of attempting to upgrade during the season. They have now invested a reasonable amount at the position, as you note, but not optimally because of the circumstances.
 

BusRaker

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Edelman may be 34 years old, but he really only became a full-time player at the age of 27. His first 4 years in the league he only had 54, 14, 9, and 32 targets.
Yeah but all of those kick returns ... not sure if there is any statistical evidence but I feel like each return is the equivalent beating of 3 receptions.
 

tims4wins

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Yeah but all of those kick returns ... not sure if there is any statistical evidence but I feel like each return is the equivalent beating of 3 receptions.
Speaking of returns, I wonder if we'll see him back there in certain punt return situations (i.e. when the Titans are punting from inside their own 25-30 and a return is possible)
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Edelman may be 34 years old, but he really only became a full-time player at the age of 27. His first 4 years in the league he only had 54, 14, 9, and 32 targets.
True, but hes clearly gotten a whole lot more "dings" in his time than Welker did. You also can't just exclude all the years of play before he got to the NFL. While I'm sure its not the same, the dude took plenty of licks from high school, Kent State, and the NFL. At some point, its just shuffling deck chairs.
 

tims4wins

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True, but hes clearly gotten a whole lot more "dings" in his time than Welker did. You also can't just exclude all the years of play before he got to the NFL. While I'm sure its not the same, the dude took plenty of licks from high school, Kent State, and the NFL. At some point, its just shuffling deck chairs.
Define dings. Welker seemed to have more head / concussion type injuries. Edelman's injuries seem more on the body (kind of similar to Gronk). Either way - he's one beat up dude.
 

steveluck7

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Define dings. Welker seemed to have more head / concussion type injuries. Edelman's injuries seem more on the body (kind of similar to Gronk). Either way - he's one beat up dude.
Welker also had more targets in his 6 Patriots (926) seasons than Edleman does in his 10. (902) Welker was absolutely abused here.

edit: Welker also had over 100 targets in his last seaosn with Miami and in his first season with Denver. 8 seasons, almost 1,150 targets
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Define dings. Welker seemed to have more head / concussion type injuries. Edelman's injuries seem more on the body (kind of similar to Gronk). Either way - he's one beat up dude.
Diagnosed concussions? Sure. But my recollection is that Welker was able to sneak under the hits much better than Edelman. I mean, we could post a litany of videos of un-diagnosed Edelman concussions in this thread.

Anyway:

Wes Welker injuries in 175 games (not games missed, but total reported injuries where he missed games): Eight

Julian Edelman injuries in 131 games (not games missed, but total reported injuries where he missed games): Eighteen

So...those kind of dings.
 

pappymojo

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It's not been one thing; it's been the accumulation of a bunch of things.

1. The loss of Andrews. Enormous. He holds all the keys to protection and blocking. As it turns out, he's a GREAT center. Karras has been better than Ferentz, but the drop-off from Andrews to Karras has been huge.

2. The loss of Develin. The best blocking FB in the league, he just is a wrecking ball out there. They have simply not been able to replace him or what he brings to the table. Roberts, ironically, is starting to get it, and as he's improved, the running game has improved too. But for most of the season, this was just a glaring glaring hole.

3. The loss of Trent Brown. This had to happen, as he was commanding a ridiculous salary, but we forget just how good he was last year. An absolute monster at LT. Wynn is, and will be, a pretty solid LT in the league for many years, but he's not yet at the level that Brown was at last year.

4. The health of Cannon and Mason. Those guys each suffered through stretches where they were either OUT or really banged up. It affected their play in a noticeable fashion. Both guys, when healthy and playing at their best, are pro-bowl caliber offensive linemen, but they haven't been close to that this year. Some of it is the health, and some of it is Andrews-related, with Mason having to help cover for Karras, leaving Cannon with no help on the outside. Given his sketchy health, leaving him on an island just hasn't been good.

5. The loss of Gronkowski. He wasn't GRONK last year, but he was still really good. And the best blocking TE we've seen in the NFL in a long time. His mere presence opens things up for other players as he commands so much attention. The drop-off from Gronk to Watson/Lacosse is just off the charts in magnitude.

6. The loss of Gordon and Thomas. Maybe these seem like smaller deals, but they were going into the season pretty stacked at WR. They traded Thomas when it was clear that AB was available. Then they got rid of Gordon when he became unreliable. Obviously Gordon is out of the NFL right now so that was prescient, but still...they don't have another WR as good as him. Thomas was a sneaky bad loss, as he brought a solid veteran presence at WR. Not the biggest loss, but it all adds up.

7. The injury to Harry. Really slowed his development. I think he's gonna be a good NFL WR when all is said and done, and clearly they're integrating him more and more, but they were hoping he'd be further along NOW than he is. The injury set him back.

8. The health of Edelman. Huge. Enormous. The guy is an absolute warrior, but he's clearly not EDELMAN right now. Even with Gronk, Edelman was the one who made it all go.

9. The decline of Brady. It's real. He's not declined into "awful" status or anything, but he's also clearly not peak TOM BRADY. Clearly. There's just no arguing with it, as much as some people might want to. Peak Tom Brady would have been putting up 27 points a game even with all they lost. He can't do that now and needs more help.

10. The kicking problems. Folk has done well, but before that, they were really really really struggling at K. Just giving away points in so many games, it was troublesome.

11. The decline of the defense. They started out like a house of fire, putting up record-setting numbers. Then things got real, and the defense slowed down. It's still "good", but the last 8 weeks have seen a marked drop-off in performance. With that has come fewer turnovers generated, and more first downs and yardage allowed, which has meant that the offense has had to work harder to score points - getting fewer opportunities (as teams have held the ball more), and worse field position.

So it's been a whole lot of things contributing to the team's problems. And yet here we are at 12-4 hosting a playoff game. There are worse situations to be in, and there's hope for improvement next year as some of these things will likely be better.
I agree with all of this. One nitpick would be in 10 the kicking problems. To be consistent (and more fair), it should be listed as the injury/health of Ghost.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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Diagnosed concussions? Sure. But my recollection is that Welker was able to sneak under the hits much better than Edelman. I mean, we could post a litany of videos of un-diagnosed Edelman concussions in this thread.

Anyway:

Wes Welker injuries in 175 games (not games missed, but total reported injuries where he missed games): Eight

Julian Edelman injuries in 131 games (not games missed, but total reported injuries where he missed games): Eighteen

So...those kind of dings.
Diagnosed? I always thought one of Welker's best skills was his ability to hide his concussions.
 
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