After one of the most anemic offensive performances for the Patriots this season, and after Peyton Manning reined supreme in the AFC Championship over Belichick and Brady, the dust has settled and the analysis begins.
What was the biggest concern for the Patriots on Sunday? Was it the defense or the offense? I’d say both, but that’s cheap, so I’ll take the plunge and say the Patriots offensive players, roster construction and game-plan let the New England faithful down.
Against the number one ranked Broncos offense and the highest scoring team in NFL history, the Patriots defense really had no shot at being perfect. Minus key contributors Talib, Mayo, Wilfork and Kelly (probably the biggest coming when they lost Talib to a cheap shot), the Patriots defense represented decently by allowing just 26 points. The Patriots offense has scored over 26 points in 11 of their last 18 games.
The offense was constructed in an obscenely stupid way. You stock-piled three of the same player, virtually, and then relied on two injured rookies to make up for the other half in production. Offense is made up in zones. Short, middle and deep and an inside and outside for all those options. In the perfect offense all zones should have a threat. Belichick constructed the offense with Edelman, Amendola and Collie that all have the same skill-set and attack the same zone (short-middle) and that is an F for effort.
Think of it this way, the Denver Broncos are as potent as they are because they can attack you in every way possible. Welker in the slot (short – inside) – Demaryius Thomas is the deep threat (outside or inside) – Julius Thomas it the big red zone target (outside or inside) and Decker is a utility player that can do all those things well (primarily outside).
The Denver Broncos racked up 507 total yards to the Patriots 320 and really the Patriots did most of that in the garbage time of the game. Immediately after the game, my attention turned to Brady and don’t get me wrong, Brady looked bad, but then again how much help did he really have? How can you construct a roster that only has one viable deep threat option and it’s a partially injured rookie?
They strung all their hopes on a healthy Gronkowski and history told them to not do that. In fact, it told them twice. Their game-plan was just as bad, opting to run it just 16 times after consecutive 300+ yard weeks in a row. Dumb. It resulted in the Patriots holding the ball for just 24:16 while Denver held it for 35:44.
Bill Belichick, the general manager, let them down in the AFC Championship. They were beaten by a team that had a better built roster, period. Brady’s overthrows, a lack of defensive pressure, the Talib injury and a non-existent rushing attack didn’t help, but it also wasn’t the iceberg to the Titanic – The roster was.