|Brady has underwhelmed this preseason. (Keith Nordstrom)|
The Patriots offense with Tom Brady has been mediocre at best. Knowing that Brady likely won't suit up for Thursday's final preseason game against the Giants, he left a somewhat nasty taste in our mouths from his performances so far. Brady went 1 for 4 with 10 yards against the Packers, and the running back didn't fair much better outside of Jonas Gray's 55 yard touchdown. Against the Saints, Brady went 2 for 5 with 13 yards, and the running game averaged a meager 2.34 yards per carry. Last week against Carolina, in Brady's longest outing yet, he went 7 for 13 with 84 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions; the running game boosted up to a mere 3.7 yards per carry, but again, not very good.
So with all of these underwhelming performances, where is the silver lining? Well...it's in the playbook. Pun aside, the Patriots ran as vanilla an offense as they possibly could. The play action plays with receivers running double moves and option routes were sparse. Counters and draws didn't have the same emphasis and ingenuity as usual. Though the most important thing to note is that the playbook was executed by players who were not meant to be running these plays. This playbook is designed for the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Scott Chandler, Brandon LaFell, Bryan Stork, and LeGarrette Blount, all of whom have been sidelined with injuries or kept on the sidelines to prevent injuries for most or part of the preseason so far. Asking someone like Chris Harper to do what Julian Edelman does won't yield the same results. The same can be said for Asante Cleveland in a Gronkowski role, and David Andrews in a Bryan Stork role. It just isn't going to happen.
Once Brady is surrounded by the likes of one of, if not the greatest TE in the history of the NFL, a WR some DBs claim to be the most difficult to cover in the NFL, and a second year offensive linemen who solidified an entire offense as a rookie, the results will change. Once Gronk is streaking down the seam with Chandler parallel to him, the results will change. When Brady is allowed to be Brady with a full offense, the results will change.
Do not fear Patriots Nation. While things have been far from spectacular with the offense this preseason, we know what they are capable of doing. This offense should be better than last year's with new players like Scott Chandler, Reggie Wayne, and Dion Lewis, and players who are returning to form like Nate Solder (cancer), Sebastian Vollmer (shoulder), and Brandon LaFell (foot).
While those in doubt will likely remain in doubt until the Patriots take the field opening night, take some comfort in knowing this offense has yet to be constructed and fully operational, and that its full potential is a scary concept for opposing defenses.
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