Don't be too concerned with today's offensive struggles

At one or more points during the Patriots 17-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills today, you were probably rolling your eyes because of the ineptitude of New England's offense. If it's something you're worried about heading into the playoffs, don't be.

The first thing, which is also the most obvious, New England was without Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Jonas Gray, Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer. The two linemen being out meant Josh Kline and Marcus Cannon saw more time than they should, which ended up being Christmas Dinner 2.0 for the Bills defensive front.

Bill Belichick did the right thing by not letting Gronkowski even see the field considering his injury history. Other than Tom Brady, he is the one offensive piece the Patriots absolutely cannot afford to lose.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Speaking of Brady, he was sacked once and Jimmy Garoppolo three times, which means the line gave up four sacks for the second week in a row. Not good, but the Patriots have more than a week to correct this, and there's no reason to think they can't get things right. It turned out to be a quicker fix than anyone expected the last time this was a concern.

The receivers also had a tough time catching passes that they are supposed to catch. Tim Wright had a drop that would have resulted in a first down and Danny Amendola also dropped a pass that would have been a first down. That's just naming a few that stood out.

The Patriots, driving in the third quarter with Garoppolo at the helm, went for it on fourth-and-one and were stopped short as Garoppolo tried to run to the outside to move the chains. He isn't Brady, so you didn't see the classic quarterback sneak that you very likely would have seen had Brady been running the show.

That isn't a knock on Garoppolo, merely just an observation. But it's probably a pretty good thing that he, along with Brady have the ability to extend plays with their feet.

What's more, of all the teams who have made the AFC playoffs, only the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens have defensive fronts that can be mentioned in the same conversation as Buffalo's. So, depending on who New England ends up with in the Divisional Round, they might not see a line that's as good as the Bills.

Obviously, the Patriots and their supports would be happy to hear that.

Overall, yes, there was much to be desired with the Patriots offense today. But when one factors in that they operating with about 65-70 percent of their regular personnel, a drop off should be expected no matter who is under center.

That's especially the case when the depth at the offensive line/tackle position is sparse. Connolly and Vollmer are expected back for the playoffs, and so is Nate Solder, who left the game with an injury and did not return.

Media and fans alike know the Patriots by now. Consecutive poor performances very rarely happen with them. There's no reason to believe that this keeps up once the playoffs begin because they know they need to be better.

They will be.

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