Good Monday sports fans! It’s a big week all over the map as the MLB trade deadline is 1 week away and NFL training camps start. Where the Red Sox have already made a few deals, early in the week I am going to concentrate on previewing Patriots training camp. Today we are going to tackle the biggest of those. The QB situation….
Tom Brady won’t be playing the first 4 games. He hasn’t missed a start since blowing out his knee in the first half of the first game in 2008. Which means we don’t have a ton of information about how the Patriots will work with Jimmy Garrapolo going forward. Or do we? Tom Brady, wasn’t the current Tom Brady in 2001, and through 2004 wasn’t the passing machine he has become.
|YEAR||PA||RA||TOTAL PLAYS||PASS %||RUSH %|
A look at the above table shows the percentage of pass plays and runs plays run each year of the Belichick’s tenure in New England. The trends that stand out to me are pretty obvious. When Brady was young and Charlie Weis was the offensive coordinator (2001 through 2004) or Cassell was the QB (2008) the run game was used far more. Best exemplified in 2004 when it actually surpassed the pass game in percentage of plays called. The results? We all know the Patriots won the Super Bowl. In 2002 they missed the playoffs completely. That was part poor play calling, relying too heavily on a young Brady who wasn’t ready to throw 60% of the time and a defense that consistently had the offense chasing points, and having to throw. In 2008 with Cassell under center they also missed the playoffs, this can be attributed mostly the week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins and their debut and effective use of the Wildcat offense that had Ronnie Brown rush for 4 TDs and pass for another. In the end the Patriots lost the AFC East to the Dolphins on the 4th tiebreaker and lost the wildcard to the Baltimore Ravens on the second tiebreaker.
So what does all that mean? I Tend to think that it means we will see a fairly conservative play calling structure until Brady returns. Which should be fine, with the return of Dante Scarnecchia to coach the offensive line, and Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer to the offensive tackle spots plus the addition of Martellus Bennett to line up opposite Rob Gronkowski the Patriots should be able to open up plenty of rushing lanes for the committee of Legarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, Donald Brown, James White, Brandon Bolden, Tyler Gaffney and D.J. Foster. More on all of that in a minute on last thing about the QBs….
There is one wild card in the mix is Josh McDaniels. In his career McDaniels, like most of the NFL these days has preferred the pass, even with QBs named Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley and Kellen Clemens.
|YEAR||PA||RA||TOTAL PLAYS||PASS %||RUSH %||ROLE|
|2005||564||439||1003||56.23131||43.76869||Unofficial Pats O.C.|
|2010||458||272||730||62.73973||37.26027||Den H.C. 12 games|
Does that mean that maybe they let Jimmy G drop back and throw the heck out of the ball (if Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are healthy)? I don’t know about week 1 in Arizona against a Cardinals team that added more pieces than they lost too a defense that finished 3rd overall in defensive DVOA (2nd in pass DVOA and 4th in rush DVOA). That strikes me as a game that Belichick will want to control the clock and keep the high octane Bruce Arians offense on the sidelines as much as possible. I expect them to run directly at Chandler Jones as much as possible, to be completely honest.
The following weeks though? The Dolphins secondary is a disaster, so if they feel they offensive line can keep Jimmy G. upright I could totally see them letting Jimmy rear back and toss it. The Texans strength is also upfront, so if they believe the line can stand up to J.J. Watt, old friend Vince Wilfork and Jadeveon Clowney then I would expect 53-54% of the play calls to be passes. The Bills are a mess, they can do whatever they feel like with Jacoby Brissett at QB and win. (Sorry, not sorry My Friend Craig.)
So I don’t want to put a definitive prediction out there for what the Patriots record will be with Jimmy G. at the helm before training camp even starts, but I think 2-2 is likely and 3-1 is very achievable.
QB depth chart coming out of training camp
Starter: Jimmy Garrapolo
Back up: Unsigned Veteran
Third String: Jacoby Brissett (won’t dress on game days)
In Case of Emergency: Julian Edelman
Suspended for 4 games
Come back tomorrow for the Running Backs Preview!