30 January 2012

Super Bowl XLVI: Breaking down the Patriots' Offense

As it is Super Bowl week this week in Indianapolis, we, and by we I mean me, will be taking a look at the offenses and defenses of both teams. This time, we are looking at the offense of the New England Patriots. 

Points per game: 32.1 (3rd)
Yards per game: 428.0 (2nd)
Passing yards per game: 317.8 (2nd)
Rushing yards per game: 110.2 (20th)

The Patriots are their offense, that's not a question. They go as far as Tom Brady will lead them and that has resulted in three Super Bowl rings and has resulted in them getting to this position. Brady had another fantastic  season across the board. 5235 passing yards, 39 touchdown passes against only 12 interceptions (around his career average), 65.6% completion percentage, 105.6 passer rating. That is an MVP-type season but he probably will not win the MVP thanks to absurdly good seasons by Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. 

Brady's triumvirate of weapons in the passing game consists of Wes Welker, who is the premier possession receiver in the NFL, and two tremendous tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Only one other receiver had more than 50 receptions and that was Deion Branch. Welker led the league once again in receptions with 122 catches but he also had a very good, for him, 12.9 yards per catch which is his best mark in New England, and a career high nine touchdown receptions. He is simply the best at going over the middle, finding a seam, and being where Brady needs him. Hernandez had a very strong season as well with 79 catches and over 900 receiving yards. He's got that rare athlecism and speed for a tight end and you may even see him taking a handoff in the backfield.

But it was Gronkowski who just had an absolutely absurd season, the greatest ever for a tight end arguably. He set records for most receiving yards with 1,327, receiving touchdowns with 17 and total touchdowns with 18. He was just a freak this year, a 265 pound machine. But he does have a high ankle sprain and he's likely not to practice at all this week. It was reported he will likely play in the game but if he is not as effective as he was all season, the Patriots' offense may take a hit.

The Patriots are not a running team and only finished 20th in rushing. They do utilize a grab bag of backs of mostly BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead. Green-Ellis sees the bulk of the carries and he provides a physical punch that is very good in short-yardage situations, hence the 11 rushing touchdowns. Brady is also one of the best at the quarterback sneak but he's a no-show in terms of running.

The offensive line is very good at pass blocking as you would expect. They gave up the 22nd most sacks (32) and the 21st most hits (71). But run blocking is not their strong suit, as proven by the rushing yardage per-game number for the season. Their focus is on protecting Brady, who is the offense, and they do it very well. There are concerns at right tackle as Sebastian Vollmer has battled with injuries and rookie Nate Solder has not performed well in his place. Vollmer may be able to go and this is a spot to keep an eye on. 

No comments:

Post a Comment