By: Steve Balestrieri
The New England Patriots have moved on from Wes Welker and signed former Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola and they will be just fine on offense next season.
Wait WHAT?!?! Forget the gloom and doom and step back from the Tobin Bridge, the Patriots will be just fine on offense. While Welker was uber productive out of the slot, the Patriots didn’t meet his demands, or didn’t even offer him a contract or whatever…
It’s over, time to move on and the Patriots have, and with the moves they are either making or have made the offense promises to be just fine without the reliable Welker on board.
Amendola Brings Different Element- Amendola will work to quickly learn every intricacy of the Patriots system and most importantly earn Tom Brady’s trust. As we’ve seen with so many wide recievers who’ve failed here in New England, lose Brady’s trust and you’ll never see the ball. But unlike the others who were too old and too set in their ways, Amendola is younger and hungry.
Amendola offers a younger, taller, more athletic version of Welker for the passing game. The Patriots are getting bigger, faster and more athletic and will present more options at opponents in the passing game.
Amendola can play in the slot or split out wide and you can expect to see him do both of those things a lot this season, especially in motion. Amendola will undoubtedly run targets deeper than those run by Welker and will look to add a little more depth and width to the passing game.
81 Won’t Be Just a TE Anymore– Aaron Herndandez, who has been out to California to work out with Brady this off-season can split out wide, play the slot and still line up at tight end. He too, can frequently go in motion and can even carry the ball as we’ve seen in the past.
Enter Emmanuel Sanders from the Steelers whom the Patriots had in for a visit but haven’t offered a contract yet. The blistering Sanders can play split out wide or in the slot and was very effective as a third option in the Pittsburgh passing attack. Are we seeing a pattern here?
The team isn’t going to look like a set piece offense this season, pieces will be constantly moving and you will see them trying to set up matchups that are favorable. Don’t dwell on the “X”, “Y” or the “Z” position but the matchups. Donald Jones is a good blocking wide receiver who caught 44 passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo last season, he’ll provide depth and can step up if needed due to an injury.
I do think they’ll bring back Donte’ Stallworth for training camp as he still packs some good speed in his wheels and knows the offense very well. The team is far from done in either free agency (Julian Edelman return?) or the NFL Draft and more pieces will be added.
Tight Ends Will Be Key- The Patriots will be returning Rob Gronkowski, the current gold standard for tight ends in the league to the fold but also welcoming Jake Ballard who sat out last season with an injury sustained in the Super Bowl against the Pats while a member of the New York Giants.
Ballard caught 38 passes in 2011 and averaged 15.9 yards per reception in a very impressive rookie campaign. He and Gronkowski are both excellent targets who are big with good hands and a knack for getting open. In the red-zone, having the prospect of Gronk, Ballard and Hernandez on the field or blocking gives Brady and the offense nearly unmatched options as well as big targets to find when space gets limited.
With the running game getting more attention in 2012, the Patriots can still trot out TEs Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells for run blocking and catch the occasional pass and will provide depth. Shane Vereen and Leon Washington out of the backfield will pose difficult targets to stop as well.
So relax Pats fans, the offense while not even complete yet is already shaping up to be just as effective, if not better than the 2012 version. They will add more pieces to the puzzle and with Brady at the helm, will put up a lot of points.
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