Patriots Gridiron News: Chris Hogan an X-factor down the stretch

New England Patriots Chris Hogan (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
New England Patriots Chris Hogan (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan is not having the best statistical season in a contract year, but his only concern is helping the team win.

When exactly did Chris Hogan fall out of Tom Brady’s circle of trust?  That is more speculation than a question that truly has an answer. However, the New England Patriots wide receiver has not been seeing a lot of targets this season and that has to chance as the team enters the final stretch of the season.

A large part of the team’s past two postseason runs, Hogan has been a clutch player for the Patriots.  This season, however, it seems the targets have decreased the more the deeper in the season we get.

Part of that is due to the return of Julian Edelman and the addition of Josh Gordon.  At the same time, their presence should open things up more for Hogan.  That has not been the case thus far.

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Through the first 10 games of the season, Chris Hogan has 23 receptions for 333 yards and two touchdowns.  There have been times when he has appeared out of sync with Tom Brady.  Is there a communication issue?

Whatever it is, Hogan knows he has to continue to keep his head in the game and make plays when the opportunities arise.  In a contract year, he can’t concern himself with the numbers.

"“We just don’t have those type of players on this team,” Hogan said, via WEEI.  “I think all the guys, skill players specifically, I think everyone on this team kind of knows their role and know they’re just going to go out there and try to do the job the best they can.  When the opportunities come their way, they’re going to try to make those plays.”"

Things should open up for Hogan with a healthier Rob Gronkowski returning.  Brady also admitted he needs to spread the ball around more.  As the team’s fourth and in some cases fifth option, Chris Hogan should have those opportunities.  He just has to take advantage of them.  If he does, a quarterback like Tom Brady will look his way a lot more.

That’s why Hogan will be an X-factor for the New England Patriots offense in the final six games of the season.

Bill Belichick weighs in on Chris Hogan

While Chris Hogan is a topic of concern when it comes to the New England Patriots offense, head coach Bill Belichick isn’t putting too much into it.

Over the years, the future Hall-of-Fame coach has never put an emphasis on individual statistics or production.  Don’t expect him to start now.

During his conference call Monday, Belichick was asked about Hogan’s lack of production.  His answer was long, but simple.  The offense isn’t designed to target a specific players and Tom Brady is going to pass the ball where he feels the best plays can be made.

Now, that is not always true.  There has been instances where players were open, and Brady has tried to force the ball to certain targets.  That’s where trust comes into play.

Can Chris Hogan earn that back?

Related Story. Chris Hogan poised for expanded role in 2018. light

According to Belichick, he puts in the necessary work to help his team in any way he can.  When you do that, there will be rewards.

"“Chris works hard,” Belichick said during his conference.  “He’s one of our hardest workers.  He’s got good stamina, can practice and go all day.  We have a lot of confidence in Chris and our entire offense.  We need to be more productive in every area – points, running the ball, throwing the ball, after the catch, pretty much you name it.  Ball security has been better the last couple of weeks, but we need more production.”"

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It’s not all on Chris Hogan, but if it turns back into that player who has a knack of always getting open, this New England Patriots offense will be that much better.