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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Patriots’ offensive woes continue

Kenbrell+Thompkins+has+been+virtually+invisible+this+year
Kenbrell Thompkins has been virtually invisible this year

While it isn’t quite time to panic yet, the offensive woes that the New England Patriots have experienced through three games are alarming. During the stretch – which analysts predicted would be relatively easy before the season began – Tom Brady and the boys have registered only 904 total offensive yards. The lack of offensive production can be traced to almost all players on that side of the ball.
Tom Brady has struggled greatly in the first quarter of the season, totaling only 632 yards through the air while completing 58.8 percent of his passes. Brady is only averaging 5.5 yards per attempt with an 82.9 rating. While he has yet to throw an interception this season, Brady has also only thrown three touchdown passes through three games. Some have speculated that Brady lacks trust in the majority of his receivers and that it has led to him being hesitant to spread the ball.
The receiving corps of the Patriots have also been lacking in their performance. Danny Amendola has gone from a key receiver in last season’s offense to the Invisible Man in the 2014 campaign, totaling three catches for 16 yards. Off-season addition Brandon LaFell had been held without a catch in the first two games against Miami and Minnesota.
Rob Gronkowski has been slowly worked into the offense as he’s returning from a serious knee injury. Gronk has caught 11 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, but those numbers are far from the typical offensive capabilities of the star tight end. The only offensive weapon that has truly performed at a high level is wide receiver Julian Edelman. Brady spoke with WEEI on September 22 and said of Edelman, “Yeah, he’s done a good job, so that’s one.” Through the first three games, Edelman has 22 catches for 260 yards and a touchdown.
What may be the most glaring issue for the Patriots offense is the offensive live play. Since the trade of Logan Mankins, the line has appeared to lack cohesion or an ability to stop pass rushers, giving up seven sacks through the first three weeks. Specifically, left tackle Nate Solder has had trouble handling incoming rushers and looked mediocre when dealing with Justin Tuck and Khalil Mack of the Raiders in Week Three.
There is a bit of positivity for the offense. Running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen have performed well in their individual roles. Gronkowski’s role in the offense will grow more and more as the season progresses. While LaFell did not have any catches through the first two games, he and Brady connected on four catches for 46 yards in Week Three. Brady also had a 20+ yard catch-and-run with Amendola that was negated by an offensive pass interference penalty against LaFell. The ability to create plays is there, it’s simply a matter of finding a rhythm and getting everybody to contribute.
The Patriots face a difficult schedule ahead as they travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs on Monday Night Football in Week Four before facing the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals at home in Week Five. Later in the season, they will face the likes of Denver, Green Bay, Chicago, and Indianapolis. The defense has performed well enough through the beginning of the season, but if the offensive struggles continue, the Patriots will find it more and more difficult to squeak out these close wins.