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Improved tight ends make Patriots offense more dangerous

Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez AP

The 2011 Patriots offense might just be more dynamic than last year’s brutally efficient crew. Tom Brady threw for 517 yards (fifth-most all time) against a top-flight defense Monday night, leading New England to a 38-24 win over Miami.

There are quite a few reasons why this group could be more dangerous.   Wes Welker is quicker a year further removed from ACL surgery. The running back position is deeper. First round tackle Nate Solder could be a difference maker and Brady seems to enjoy playing at a faster tempo.

The biggest reason for optimism: Tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are a year older.

Tight ends traditionally don’t produce as rookies, but these two combined for 1,110 yards and 16 touchdown last year.  They looked even more explosive Monday night.

Hernandez caught seven passes for 103 yards and a score. He runs routes and makes plays after the catch like a wideout. He’s the most athletic player on the Patriots offense.

Gronkowski caught six passes for 86 yards and a score against Miami.  He can block well and has emerged as one of the best red zone threats in the league.

Put these two together, and you have a matchup nightmare.  We tried to think of other great tight end combinations, and it’s hard to come up with a similar duo.

Mark Chmura and Keith Jackson were tough to stop on the ’96 Packers, but this is a different era.  Hernandez and Gronkowski are essentially the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers for New England behind Welker.  Deion Branch would be No. 4, with Chad Ochocinco battling Matt Slater for No. 5 honors.  (Sorry Ocho.)

The Patriots have a truly unique offense that can transform based on the matchup, but it’s really the two second-year tight ends that make it go.

Well, that guy with the Uggs commercial helps too.

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37 Responses to “Improved tight ends make Patriots offense more dangerous”
  1. freedomispopular says: Sep 12, 2011 11:48 PM

    Randy who?

  2. shaggytoodle says: Sep 12, 2011 11:58 PM

    Its deffinetly a passing league now days and teams keeping loads of TEs and WRs to help create those mismatches, like a dozen QBs threw for over 300 yrds and some of those were in the 400-500 range.

    I spose AP and CJ wanted thier extensions before HBs became obsolete.

  3. cakemixa says: Sep 12, 2011 11:58 PM

    How many years will the media keep riding the Patriots SB wins from many years ago, and keep predicting them to make the SB in the current year? They haven’t even won a playoff game in how long? Hopefully one more loss will do the trick…

  4. harvardflawreview says: Sep 12, 2011 11:58 PM

    A top flight defense? What?

  5. nepatriots128154 says: Sep 13, 2011 12:00 AM

    Jump on early gentlemen the bandwagons gonna fill up fast this year

  6. bradybbgoat says: Sep 13, 2011 12:00 AM

    “Do you hear the footsteps?”

  7. rodneyharrisonstruckstick says: Sep 13, 2011 12:05 AM

    just wait till mid season, when the defense comes together… dow

  8. pmars64 says: Sep 13, 2011 12:06 AM

    It’s all so dangerous until a defense clogs the middle, starts putting some corners on those TEs, and forces Brady to throw to below average wide-outs. Add a pinch of QB pressure and it spells another great regular season followed by another playoff disappointment like last season. The Jets can’t be too worried.

  9. tedmurph says: Sep 13, 2011 12:08 AM

    Pats will smoke most teams during regular season, as usual. But, in January, when their season really starts, can they stop anyone on 3rd down, get pressue on the QB, protect TB? We’ll see.

  10. phillyisinvading says: Sep 13, 2011 12:16 AM

    already put my waiver in for Hernandez on my fantasy team.

    cya Mercades Lewis!

  11. bamasucks says: Sep 13, 2011 12:20 AM

    Olsen and Shockey are a pretty good duo for the Panthers.

  12. habsman says: Sep 13, 2011 12:24 AM

    Interesting contrast:

    Mike Vick after going 14 or 32 passing: “it feels great to play lights out”.

    Tom Brady after setting MNF yardage record of 517 yards and 4 TD’s: “we made enough plays to win”

    Last year there were many who thought Vick was the best QB (and MVP favorite) in the game (Deon). Don’t seem to hear that as much so far this year. Funny eh?

  13. jh500 says: Sep 13, 2011 12:35 AM

    habsman says: Sep 13, 2011 12:24 AM

    Last year there were many who thought Vick was the best QB (and MVP favorite) in the game (Deon). Don’t seem to hear that as much so far this year. Funny eh?
    _____________________________________

    uhmm… the season has barely started….

  14. bradybbgoat says: Sep 13, 2011 12:40 AM

    @pmars64

    Often attempted, but easier said than done.

    I love when people talk about how to stop Brady.

    “Just put pressure on him, shut down the WRs and
    hold the middle of the field.”

    Tell that to Miami.

  15. rc33 says: Sep 13, 2011 12:40 AM

    How the hell is Aaron Hernandez available in anybody’s league?

  16. bobhk says: Sep 13, 2011 12:46 AM

    Patsies can play fantasy football all season. They’ll get crushed in the playoffs by a superior D. Ciao,

  17. joeyb13ccny says: Sep 13, 2011 12:46 AM

    “pmars64″
    If you put corners on tightends its a huge mismatch;
    first you would be losing 2 linebackers which means easier to run the ball. And clog the middle with what? Corners? Two tightends are also bigger then corners so its a size mismatch. If it was so easy to just put corners on them dont you think it would have been done? Also the dolphins tried that with Hernandez and look how that turned out. Also the Jets cant be too worried? Last I checked the Patriots won the division.

  18. readysethike says: Sep 13, 2011 12:52 AM

    Did ocho even have a catch? How many weeks will go by before he starts complaining

  19. worldrenownedroundhead says: Sep 13, 2011 1:04 AM

    The Dolphins had a great defense last year. This year…..I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  20. jessethegreat says: Sep 13, 2011 1:28 AM

    I’m beginning to think that Brady would still be good even on a team like the Vikings. (As long as he can call his own plays)

  21. nannymcsack says: Sep 13, 2011 1:48 AM

    he takes the snap, holds the ball in his right hand and directs with his left (post snap). get the fook out of here. watch this cat do work.

  22. CKL says: Sep 13, 2011 1:53 AM

    @habsman
    I also liked how when they asked TB about the 99 yard TD to Welker he said words to the effect of, ” It’s not like I did anything, Wes did all the work.”

  23. bearsrulepackdrool says: Sep 13, 2011 1:56 AM

    Shout out to Aaron Hernandez “making it rain” in the endzone celebration.

    I wonder if the Comish is going to be paranoid and fine him.

  24. promickey says: Sep 13, 2011 4:24 AM

    Wow! How is it the tight ends can run faster than defensive backs? The Dolphins need to retire Benny Sapp who could not run with the tight ends from the Patriots. The Dolphins knew that Brady would run the no huddle offense. Imagine if the Dolphins had been caught by surprise!

  25. eddyjf says: Sep 13, 2011 5:50 AM

    cakemixa says:
    Sep 12, 2011 11:58 PM
    How many years will the media keep riding the Patriots SB wins from many years ago, and keep predicting them to make the SB in the current year?
    —————————
    I don’t see any mention of super bowl in this article. Can you let me know what sentence you are referring to? Article states that the offense looks good after 1 game. Do you disagree? Your intelligence and ability to analyze this article is outstanding.

  26. pftequalsgreatjournalism says: Sep 13, 2011 6:01 AM

    pmars64 says:Sep 13, 2011 12:06 AM

    It’s all so dangerous until a defense clogs the middle, starts putting some corners on those TEs, and forces Brady to throw to below average wide-outs. Add a pinch of QB pressure and it spells another great regular season followed by another playoff disappointment like last season. The Jets can’t be too worried.

    ——————————–

    You make an interesting point about “clog[ging] the middle” that I think that we will see play out at some point this season…

    As for the Jets, they had to battle hard in the fourth quarter and were aided by Tony the Choker before they could beat my Cowgirls so I have to disagree – they should be very worried…

  27. psousa1 says: Sep 13, 2011 7:35 AM

    I’m listening to talk radio right now in New England and 80% of the callers believe this team is going to be fighting Jacksonville and Indy for the Andrew Luck pick. Jesus Christ! Did they give up a lot of yards? Yes. They were up 3 touchdowns – they were also trading yardage for time off the clock. Bitch and moan if it is a close game and they come up short. This was a blow out.

  28. ajknox88 says: Sep 13, 2011 7:41 AM

    I picked up Hernandez from waivers on FF before this game, great pick up

  29. bcgreg says: Sep 13, 2011 8:03 AM

    Don’t forget about Woodhead and Green-Ellis either. They rushed for over 100 yards as a team too.

  30. omegaichiban says: Sep 13, 2011 9:17 AM

    @ habsman if Mike Vick had the same line and weapons that Brady had who knows what numbers he would put up. Brady is the man, no doubt and 517 yards is 517, not 300 400 like shaggytoodle said other qb’s put up. 517. Vick has to take every snap and somewhere in the back of his mind, if not the front is “my line sucks, i probably gotta scramble” not go through my progression 2 times, man i’m kinda hungry, wonder if there will be any hot water left…hey look, everybody’s open, i’ll throw to Wes.

  31. rc33 says: Sep 13, 2011 9:46 AM

    If Vick had Hernandez and Gronkowski they wouldn’t be the Hernandez and Gronkowski we’re seeing in N.E.

    Vick’s got DeSean, for crying out loud. Better than any wideout Brady has.

  32. evanhartford says: Sep 13, 2011 10:49 AM

    The Pats gave up a lot of points to a not-so-good football team. And when did the Dolphins become a “Top Flight Defense”?

    It was a win for the Pats but lets see them try to do that against the Ravens or the Jets.

  33. shogun69 says: Sep 13, 2011 12:30 PM

    Brady put up 517/4, and the guy that was supposed to be NE’s big play deep threat receiver, Taylor Price, was out for the game. I realize Brady has good weapons as is, but how much better are they gonna be on offense if they have a real down field threat to stretch the D that much more? Work on the D, Pats, the offense seems “OK”.

  34. richm2256 says: Sep 13, 2011 5:16 PM

    readysethike says:
    Did ocho even have a catch? How many weeks will go by before he starts complaining

    Who cares? If he does, they’ve got far too many other guys they can throw to, and cut 85.

    evanhartford says:
    And when did the Dolphins become a “Top Flight Defense”?

    I believe they wereranked 6th overall last year. That’s not top flight????

  35. tjstyles says: Sep 13, 2011 5:46 PM

    Somebody already mentioned Owens and Shockey on Carolina as a solid TE duo, but I will mention that Shiancoe and Rudolph could be good if McNabb gets in the flow in MN.

    I just love the idea to put the Corners on the TEs to stop the Pats; and I would bet that Wes Welker and Ochocinco would love that idea too, not to mention Green-Ellis and Woodhead. Pats have the best offense in the league, whether people like it or not. They have play makers at every position, and a solid offensive line. Brady gets time in the pocket, and almost always make the right pass.

    The only way I can think of to really beat this offense is to get pressure on Brady, and that is easier said than done. There are a few teams in the league that have the defensive line and line backers to effectively get penetration and cover the TEs, but not many.

  36. backindasaddle says: Sep 14, 2011 2:37 AM

    Don’t apologize to Ocho. He’s done nothing yet and still hasn’t learned the offense.

  37. bcgreg says: Sep 16, 2011 8:16 PM

    Vick’s got a pretty good TE in Celek. They simply don’t use him!

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