It’s no secret that the New England Patriots have been struggling offensively this season. Blaming it on personnel is easy, but there’s more to it.
The New England Patriots offense seems as if it’s beyond saving. Since week 9 they are averaging just 17.6 points and 329.6 total yards of offense per game, both well below the league average for those categories.
There’s a lot of blame to go around for this, but I don’t see a ton of it going towards the quarterback or the offensive coordinator. Why is that?
I get it, the Patriots don’t have an illustrious group of pass catchers other than Julian Edelman. But looking around the league will tell you that you don’t need to have a bunch of All-Pros running routes in order to have success.
Let’s start off with the early round rookies. There were 12 receivers taken within the first three rounds of the 2019 NFL draft. Of them, five average at least 45 yards per game. That’s solid production for a rookie, and we have no reason to believe that New England Patriots rookie N’Keal Harry isn’t capable of a similar type of impact.
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I know Harry didn’t debut until week 11 and it does take some time for rookies to get adjusted, but he’s played four games to this point and has played less than half the snaps in three of them. This includes the Chiefs game in which he was on the field for just two snaps.
How are we supposed to know if Harry is any good or not if he’s barely even playing? Why is he not getting more snaps than undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers, who isn’t exactly lighting it up?
Harry was taken in the first round for a reason, but he’s not going to learn if his leash is so short that he’s sitting behind players who clearly have less ability than he does.
This lies in the hands of Josh McDaniels, who handles the personnel offensively. McDaniels has been one of the better offensive minds in the NFL for the past decade or so, but given the mediocrity of the Patriots on that side of the ball this season it seems as if he’s getting a bit of a pass.
It’s not just about the high end talent, however. There have been plenty of relatively unknown names having quietly solid seasons such as 5th round pick Darius Slayton for the New York Giants, Chris Conley for the Jacksonville Jaguars or second-year man Zach Pascal for the Indianapolis Colts, who went undrafted. Those are just a few examples, but there are cases of these types of players having solid seasons league-wide.
If they can be useful for their respective teams then why can’t, say, Phillip Dorsett?
There’s not a talent disparity between Dorsett and the players mentioned above. None of them are world-beaters, but they are all capable of being reliable targets.
Whether it’s the scheme being defective or Tom Brady simply showing his age a little bit, it’s not fair to put the entirety of the blame on New England’s pass catchers. Once again I understand they aren’t the best unit. However, the New England Patriots aren’t the only team in the league who don’t have a stacked receiving group.
All I’m saying is, the guy who has a lower passer rating than Mitchell Trubisky deserves some blame here. So does the guy who has been heralded as an offensive guru but can’t seem to scheme anyone open besides Edelman. An offense’s success starts with the quarterback and the play calling, and neither have been up to par in 2019.