So, I dug back into the film vault, and went back to 2006. Randy Moss was a disaster with the Raiders, and Wes Welker was still a Dolphin. They had just lost two starting receivers (David Givens and Deion Branch), and were relying on journeyman receivers Reche Caldwell and Jabbar Gaffney. Still, this was the Patriots, and Josh McDaniel and Bill Belichick still had Tom Brady, who had won three championships with receivers who were not quite household names. What I found was a team that did what all great offenses do: they ATTACK, while at the same time minimizing its weaknesses. While TV analysts like to talk about player matchups, these matchups are dictated by scheme, and no one schemes better than the Patriots.
Below is an example of how formationing can provide a unique advantage for the offense:
Easy completions will also come in the screen game; over the years, few have been as productive as the Patriots. Here, Kevin Faulk is about to get a big play, with a convoy of blockers in front to lead the way. My guess is that Leon Washington would fill that "receiving back" role this year. From an explosion standpoint, there is a great deal of potential here.
As illustrated in my latest book on the passing game, RECODED AND RELOADED, we have a very similar staple using the RAM principle; the only difference is the use of an option route by the weakside slot. With M going to the right and W being wrong no matter what he does, a big play is the result:
It's been said that the future is in the past, and if 2006 was any indication, the Patriots offense will be just fine in 2013. The coaching and quarterback play raise the level of all the players in the system; while many teams seem to find ways to waste the talent on the roster, the Patriots find ways to squeeze every ounce of production from everyone they put on the field.
Will the Patriots be better once Gronkowsky is healthy? Of course they will! But, as I've discussed here, the Patriots won't just sit back and let let defenses dictate to them.