By Shawn Hakimi
From 2013-2015 the Patriots offense has ranked 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 3rd respectively. With the oil that enables this juggernaut to run so efficiently – Tom Brady – sidelined for the first 4 weeks of the regular season the Patriots offensive unit is bound to hit a few speed bumps on their road ahead. Though it is still way too early in training camp to get a proper feel on the offense’s progression and fluidity without Brady, early signs out of Foxborough that it would be a straightforward transition are quickly going out the window.
With the scare of Julian Edelman’s foot injury Tuesday and Jimmy Garappolo’s recent struggles, it’s not unfair to wonder how the Patriots offense will perform throughout September. Additionally, two of the units main cogs, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis are yet to come off the PUP list and a timetable for their return is unclear. With a month to go until kickoff, here’s a look at how things are shaping up at Pats camp.
Tom Brady and Jimmy Garappolo have been splitting the reps evenly so far. Brady has taken first team reps in certain packages while Garrapolo has taken them with other ones. Brady has been Brady: sharp, fiery and sometimes down right angry with an occasional misfire. Garrapolo on the other hand, grumblings are surfacing from beat reporters regarding struggles with timing and confidence. Something to consider however is that Belichick has a propensity to throw the entire kitchen sink at a player to test what does and doesn’t work. Thus, any current struggles may be avoided come week 1. Garappolo’s numbers against the Saints in day one of their joint practices: 15/22 with one interception.
LeGarrette Blount has been leading the charge in the Patriots backfield thus far despite reports that he could be cut from the team. He has been in many packages in the absence of Dion Lewis, which might change when Lewis is activated off the PUP list. An encouraging sign for Blount owners is the fact that Blount will at worst be 2nd on the depth chart and first in goal line packages.
The Patriots dodged a massive bullet during Tuesday’s practice after Julian Edelman removed himself from practice following a non contact one-on-one drill. He walked towards the sideline and slammed his helmet which led many to hold their collective breaths but he returned to practice on Wednesday. Edelman has looked extremely crisp in his 2 full days since coming off the PUP, evidenced by the separation he created from saints defenders during the one-on-one’s he participated in. Edelman will be one of two of the greatest benefactors to Brady’s absence as he will serve as a safety net of sorts.
As for the other receivers locks to make the roster, Chris Hogan has been on and off the practice field and it is unknown how big a role he will play early in the season. Danny Amendola has not been activated off the PUP but has been at practice and has an understanding of the offense entering his 4th year with the team.
This is where fantasy owners want to direct their attention come draft day. Gronkwoski has had the most opportunities to build chemistry with Jimmy Garappolo and beat reporters have been mentioning how he looks Gronkowski’s way often an frequently when under duress. I expect big numbers from him this season.
Additionally, all indications that Martellus Bennett would create mismatch issues all over the field are coming to fruition. When Gronkowksi is covered, Bennett has had a chance to shine and been making acrobatic catches. Even throwing it defenders faces at times. This group is going to wreak havoc.
It’s clear that Garappolo is still a work in progress and it is not yet clear how things pan out for week 1. It’s certain that he will be in there however and when the offense does accumulate yards in will go through Grinkowski and Bennett in the redzone, while Edelman -given he is out there- will amass many points through his PPR value. Feel confident when selecting them in your drafts this month.