3 reasons the Patriots offense will be better than last year
That's right, one the NFL's best offenses last year will be even better this season. Despite losing quarterback Tom Brady for the first 4 games of the season, there's no reason to think the offense will struggle to put up points. The Patriots have added talent at multiple positions in their offense, and didn't lose any of their key contributors from last year either. Assuming they stay healthy, this years unit should be an upgrade from what we saw last year.
1. Dante Scarnecchia
Possibly the biggest offseason addition for the Patriots is the return of longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Widely regarded as one of the best in the business, Scarnecchia's presence should immediately improve an offensive line that looked flat out overmatched at times last season. Known for his attention to detail, if anyone can fix the issues that plagued the Patriots linemen last year it's him.
The Patriots pass blocking ranked 31st in the NFL last year, so there's a lot of room to improve this season. Scarnecchia will likely start from scratch by going over basic techniques and preaching sound fundamentals as he attempts to whip the current group of linemen into shape. Former Patriots lineman Logan Mankins weighed in on Scarnecchia's return, saying "He’ll always have his guys prepared and if they’re not prepared he’ll find someone that is prepared. That’s the best thing about Dante. Those young guys have a rude awakening coming."
2. Martellus Bennett
Perhaps the most talked about personnel move the Patriots made this off season was the trade for tight end Martellus Bennett. The 29 year old is coming off a down year that was cut short by injury, but should bounce back in a big way this season.
At 6'7 273 lbs, Bennett is a matchup nightmare for defensive backs. His ability as a dynamic pass catcher will only further improve an already potent passing attack that has all of its key playmakers from last season returning. With Bennett paired alongside Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots will finally be able to duplicate the success they had with the two tight end set before Aaron Hernandez left town.
Not only will Bennett's presence be felt in the passing game, but he'll help bolster the run game as well. As one of the top run blocking tight ends in the league, his versatility is a huge asset for the Patriots offense. Just the threat of him going downfield should discourage opposing defenses from stacking the box, which will give some much needed space for whoever is in the backfield.
3. Chris Hogan
If you're a fan of the HBO show "Hard Knocks" like I am, you probably remember Chris Hogan from a few years ago when the show featured the Miami Dolphins. Hogan, or "7-11" as team mates called him because he was "always open", looked impressive in camp but ultimately didn't end up making the team. He was then picked up by the Bills and spent the first four seasons of his career in Buffalo. Hogan was an under used but solid contributor during his time with the Bills, who had hoped to retain him.
Listed at 6’1 220 lbs, he brings some much needed size and athleticism to the Patriots WR corps. While he'll likely be used mostly as an outside threat, he's versatile enough to line up in the slot as well. With opposing defenses focusing on stopping the big 3 of Gronk, Bennett and Edelman, Hogan could be in line to see a ton of targets. Great value signing as I expect he will have a breakout season in 2016.