By: Steve Balestrieri
The New England Patriots have completely redone their wide receiving corps during the 2013 off-season and now face the task of retooling on the fly as they allowed Wes Welker to sign in Denver as a free agent and then released Brandon Lloyd. Most common among the questions of Patriots fans is, â€świll the wide receiversâ€™ production resemble the 2006 version?â€ť
Among the biggest criticisms of the team under Bill Belichick has been the ability to develop wide receivers and this season, the only wideout on the roster who has caught a pass from quarterback Tom Brady is Julian Edelman.
Aaron Dobson will be looked upon to contribute in 2013. (FILE:USPresswire)
During the 2013 NFL Draft, the team selected two wide receivers, Aaron Dobson from Marshall University in the 2nd round and Josh Boyce in the 4th round as well as adding UDFAsÂ T. J. Moe and Kenbrell Thompkins. During free agency the team added veteran wideouts Danny Amendola, Mike Jenkins, Donald Jones and Lavelle Hawkins.
So, Patriots fans ask how does the team avoid an offensive regression and resemble that very pedestrian group that came up short in the AFC Championship Game back in 2006?
The answer comes in the three parts, first the passing game starts through the tight ends, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Jake Ballard and second, under Josh McDaniels the Patriots had a much more balanced and effective running game. The wide receivers donâ€™t have to carry the burden of always being the primary target. The running game will probably be looked upon even more so in 2013, but the best way to integrate the new receivers with the offense begins with Brian Daboll.
Daboll Return No Coincidence-
One thing about Bill Belichick is that he doesnâ€™t do things at random or without a good reason. Perhaps the early 2012 games where Welker wasnâ€™t targeted as often was a test drive on what life would be like without the talented #83.
And so, Belichickâ€™s move to bring back someone the staff knows and trusts to coach up the wide receivers makes complete sense. Daboll was the Chiefs offensive coordinator in 2012, holding a similar position with the Dolphins in 2011 as well as in Cleveland for two seasons prior to that.
Daboll started with the Patriots as a defensive assistant during the 2000 – 2001 seasons before becoming the wide receivers coach from 2002 to 2006. He helped integrate Deion Branch, David Givens and TE Daniel Graham into the Patriots offense back in 2002.
McDaniels On Board With Dabollâ€™s Return-
While his departure in 2006 was in part because he thought he rather than Josh McDaniels should have been given more responsibility in the offense, it seems that the fences have been mended.
McDaniels at the time of the signing was effusive in his praise of Daboll. “It’s great to have Brian back,” McDaniels said in an interview. “He’s a very good football coach. Very knowledgeable. He can and will certainly help us in probably a lot of different ways. Certainly having another set of eyes that have experience and a lot of understanding of our system and how we go about doing things is only a positive for us and can help our football team going forward. I look forward to doing that with Brian.â€ť
Dabollâ€™s addition makes total sense, and brings the team another offensive mind that is very familiar within the system, and someone who can work with several positions.
Unlike many of Belichickâ€™s assistants, Daboll is much like Brady during practices, intense, loud, and very active. He yells, slaps playersâ€™ rear ends and has been known to celebrate big plays in practices loudly.
Brady was asked in an interview a few years ago about having Daboll as a coach and sounded a tone similar to McDaniels, “He was a very good coach for us, a good friend,” Brady said. “We spent a lot of time riding on the buses together. One of the things that separated him was that he took it personally out there when the receivers were going against the secondary of the other team.”
Finding Trust With Brady Key-
One of the issues facing the new receivers is finding that comfort level with Brady which results in trust. Welker had that in spades as did Randy Moss prior to his leaving. The veterans will have to work on that especially Amendola as heâ€™ll be looked to, to bring a lot of Welkerâ€™s production to the table.
But the complexity of the Patriots scheme has been a thorn in their side as players both young and old have struggled to catch on and learn the system. Brady has said that it takes two to three years to learn the system inside and out. Welker and Moss stepped in seamlessly from Day 1, the new players face a daunting challenge and Daboll will be looked to help there.
Especially with the young players, Daboll will be the teacher, cheerleader and the kick-in-the-pants guy to get them on the same page as Brady and keep the offense scoring at a high level. Look for Daboll to have a big role in the development of not only the rookie wide receivers but the veterans assimilating into the Patriots offense as well.
Stay tuned to PatsFans.com as weâ€™ll bring the latest news from mini-camps and training camp as well as any other breaking news coming out of Foxboro.