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Patriots increasingly reliant on young tight ends


The Patriots can’t beat teams through the air outside the numbers.

Tom Brady increasingly looks inside the hashmarks, mostly to his tight ends. Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald has the numbers:

Brady has targeted Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez 84 times for 56 receptions for 675 yards since Week Five.

He’s targeted his starting wideouts Wes Welker and Deion Branch 79 times for 47 catches for 558 yards over the span.

I had Tom Curran on PFT Live Wednesday, and we discussed how the Patriots don’t really have one single effective “wide” receiver.  Wes Welker is really a slot receiver. It’s a different position.

Out wide, Branch is no longer a difference maker. He’s a crafty veteran that Brady trusts, but Branch can’t consistently beat one-on-one coverage. Chad Ochocinco is a total afterthought.  Taylor Price is a rumor.

At some point, the Patriots need to figure out how to get some production down the field or find some true wideouts that can beat man coverage.

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41 Responses to “Patriots increasingly reliant on young tight ends”
  1. bozosforall says: Nov 23, 2011 10:31 AM

    Too bad that they all eventually get turned into wide recievers before the end of their first season there.

  2. rpiotr01 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:32 AM

    Meh, they seem to be doing just fine with what they have.

  3. richm2256 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:34 AM

    Belichick is a master at getting the most out of what he has, to cover for what he doesn’t have.

  4. canadianvikingfaniii says: Nov 23, 2011 10:35 AM

    but they are still beating teams right? Look at the Tebow led Broncos.

  5. stoogy says: Nov 23, 2011 10:37 AM

    teams are looking to shut down welker leaving the tight ends in favorable match ups

  6. rc33 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:41 AM

    In the end, they’re all just receivers.
    More importantly, what are DC’s gonna do against two TE’s that are that dangerous? You can only double one of ’em. Over-commit and Brady can still effectively utilize his wide outs.
    Very difficult offense to address.

  7. badphish24 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:45 AM

    Pats will cruise there way into the playoffs probobly even with a 1 seed. They have more holes on that team then a block of swiss cheese. They will be one and done this year again in the playoffs. One year at a time the nfl world is starting to realize brady didnt win all those superbowls. It was Teddy, Vrable, Harrison, Ty law, Samuels, Willie, Milloy, Seymour, Bobby Hamilton, and of Course Adam V. 1 and done again. They lose another home playoff game.

  8. snowpea84 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:45 AM

    Why do they need to find that? Are you expecting them to get bored of winning games like that?

  9. Davo says: Nov 23, 2011 10:45 AM

    And yet their scoring nearly 30 points a game. Can you imagine if they had a true WR threat?

  10. bangithard says: Nov 23, 2011 10:48 AM

    meanwhile, in unrelated news. Gronk becomes increasing reliant on BIBI JONES.

  11. bweavs says: Nov 23, 2011 10:48 AM

    Go ahead and take those tight ends away if you can, then watch Brady hit the wide outs all day. The Pats are masters of taking what the defense gives them. Lately, defenses are doing their best to take Wes away. In doing that you leave Gronk and Hernandez open. Pats problems are on Defense!

  12. paulitik74 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:48 AM

    The older I get, the more I like a young tight end myself. Can’t get enough of them. Hiyo! -rimshot-

  13. habsman says: Nov 23, 2011 10:50 AM

    The Pat’s changed their offense two years ago when they traded Moss.

    It was an adjustment made after the Jets mortgaged their future on the contracts to Revis and Sperm Man. By sending two wide recievers deep every play, they effectively removed the corners from the game plan. This opened up the middle for Hernandez who cannot be covered by the Jets slow line backers, and Gronk who overmatches the safties.

    It was a case of Belicheck playing chess while Rex was playing checkers.

  14. ampats says: Nov 23, 2011 10:51 AM

    Anyone who follows the Pats knows that Hernandez for all intensive purposes operates as a WR. We need to get Taylor Price on the field as he looked like he could break out when he has been on the field.

  15. jbl429 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:51 AM

    So what you’re saying is they need someone like Randy Moss on the outside?

  16. pleasantsurpriselefty says: Nov 23, 2011 10:52 AM

    Hoodie: “It is what it is.” Me: “Let’s Gronk them to death.”

  17. jeffro33 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:53 AM

    And my Eagles have no competent LB’s or safeties that can stop them…


  18. charleschernavsky says: Nov 23, 2011 10:53 AM

    This title can also be used for the Penn State Gazette.

  19. jetlionlove says: Nov 23, 2011 10:54 AM

    I think it was Kordell Stewart that pointed out what average receivers Tom Brady has had every year and how he consistently is a top QB. The ONE year he had a true #1 (Randy Moss) he set the TD record. Imagine what he would be like with the WRs Peyton, Rivers, or Brees have had.

    I’m a jet fan so im more than happy they haven’t brought in that true #1. But i still am very intrigued wondering what he would be like with a studly group.

  20. steviemo says: Nov 23, 2011 10:54 AM

    Keep trying, Pats. You haven’t won a SB since Spygate. Coincidence? LOL.

  21. grogansheroes says: Nov 23, 2011 10:54 AM

    And in other news, the Texans are relying on Arian Foster, the Vikings are relying on Adrian Peterson, the Chargers on Vincent Jackson, the Jets on Burris and Holmes, and so on and so on. That’s what teams do, rely on their good players. How is this news?

  22. pastabelly says: Nov 23, 2011 10:57 AM

    The tight end thing was a reaction or overreaction to the Jets shutting down their wide receivers. Revis can’t really cover Gronk or Hernandez. But they will need to bring in a big time receiver next year, especially if they can’t resign Welker. The Patriots have just done a crappy job of drafting receivers and linebackers.

  23. rmc1995 says: Nov 23, 2011 10:58 AM

    Why do they need a deep threat? Teams are putting their best DB and doubling Welker. This leaves one of the TEs matched against a LB. A deep threat may give them a better YPR but could also kill drives with incomplete passes, int, and sacks. 2 TEs in passing game is called ball control. And the Pats need it with a suspect defense.

  24. improvmasta says: Nov 23, 2011 11:00 AM

    “Inside the hashmarks” and “targeting the TEs” are two different things in the Patriots’ offense.

    Aaron Hernandez 6’2″, 240. Vincent Jackson is 6’5″ 230. Calling one of them a TE and one of them a WR doesn’t change the way either of them plays the game (like a big receiver).

    On top of that, both Hernandez and Gronkowski line up all over the formation, including split wide.

    In closing, stats are for losers.

  25. bullcharger says: Nov 23, 2011 11:01 AM

    The Patriots aren’t even taking deep shots just to test the waters. Even teams with terrible WRs run go routes once in a while just to keep the defense honest. They are being stubborn for some reason. Maybe Brady’s elbow isn’t allowing him to throw the deep ball effectively.

  26. tonyt33 says: Nov 23, 2011 11:02 AM

    Bring on T.O.!!…at the expense of his old buddy Ocho Cinco’s roster spot – LOL

  27. 8man says: Nov 23, 2011 11:03 AM

    Welker was almost invisible against the Chiefs and I myself pondered why can’t Brady get the ball to someone other than a tight end. The other thing I asked myself is why can’t they run the ball effectively enough to make the opposing defense at least believe it’s a viable option.

    Good teams get better as the season wears on. The Patriots have areas where they need to be better. They’ve got good personal and a good staff. I’m hoping that will be enough.

    Good test this Sunday against an underachieving, talented Eagles team that absolutely must win.

  28. andyreidisfat says: Nov 23, 2011 11:11 AM

    Yet another worthless post. Perhaps did you even think that maybe wr production is down because te production is up? Like maybe it has nothing to do with the skill of the wr and everything to do with the fact they may have the best te’s ever.

    Nope not on this site. Where negativity rules the day. Just another shot for crapy writers here who were probably equipment managers in middle school to diss the jocks who made high school so tough.

    Seriously, do you even watch more than just the highlights? You guys haven’t come up with an original story in years (but love to take credit like you have)
    So I know you have the time. Sad.

  29. Henry says: Nov 23, 2011 11:12 AM

    So the Pats are 2nnd in the league in passing and this is a problem?
    Leave it to some A-hole from the Herald to write trash about the Pats. Anything to increase readership, I guess.

  30. test2402 says: Nov 23, 2011 11:14 AM

    Tim Tebow could play tight end for the Patriots.

  31. mike83ri says: Nov 23, 2011 11:29 AM

    You’re making a mistake by counting Hernandez as a TE. He lines up as a slot receiver FAR more often than a traditional TE. The fact that he CAN line-up on the line as a blocker makes defenses either need to cover him with a LB/S creating a mismatch, or they have to go Nickel, and are mismatched against a 21 personel running game.

  32. giselleisasucubus says: Nov 23, 2011 11:36 AM

    this isnt news. This started last year.

  33. bozosforall says: Nov 23, 2011 11:40 AM

    The Pats treat every pass catcher like a wide receiver. No matter how much of a tight end they are when they get drafted, they eventually get turned.

  34. grpatriot says: Nov 23, 2011 11:43 AM

    Nobody can stop the Gronkenstien! Too big for CB’s, Safeties and LB’s….try jamming him, no way!
    The Kid can block too!

  35. mrconnors says: Nov 23, 2011 12:03 PM

    Too bad Bozosforall has no life and has to troll any and every topic involving the Patriots. Maybe if he did, I wouldn’t have his nonsense filling up my computer screen.

  36. redrew says: Nov 23, 2011 12:16 PM

    Is there a rule that teams must pass more to WRs than TEs? There is a reason Belichick wins 10+ games every year while other teams take the highs with the lows. BB has designed an offense that current defenses can’t match up with. Their offense has evolved to create mismatches using the TE….If you cover Gonk with a safety on the LOS, Brady will call a run. If a LB gets the Gronk assignment, Gronk heads out on a pattern. And for Hernandez, he has the abilty to bring a LB out wide. In other words, defenses have their heads on a swivel with this athletic double TE freak show. Sure, a premium WR would open up the O even more…but what team doesn’t have holes. I guess Belichick has to settle for 30 points/game.

  37. cliverush says: Nov 23, 2011 12:41 PM

    Brady has taken numerous hard hits this year. The man is still on the field throwing strikes when needed. Adjustment to the play calling offset opponents. Call them names or try to degrade their record while the majority of fans know this,you would dance at the thought of BB and TB coming to your team.

  38. homelanddefense says: Nov 23, 2011 1:44 PM

    they have no choice but to rely on the TE’s, because they have failed miserably at drafting WR’s for a long time now. I cant remember the last WR they drafted and developed…..Bracnch, or Givens?

    They have drafted and missed on tons of WR….Price, Edleman, Jackson, PK Sam, Bethel Johnson, Matt Slater (if you consider him a WR, Brandon Tate.

    For some reason they cant evaluate WR’s.

  39. gimmeabruschi says: Nov 23, 2011 2:30 PM

    Sign Moss. Dump 85.

  40. TheWizard says: Nov 23, 2011 5:33 PM

    hmm, I could have sworn………..

  41. patriotera says: Nov 24, 2011 12:09 AM

    Patriots haven’t had this strong of a Tightend presence since Bleadsoe/ Coates. Ben Coates was Drew’s best weapon. He got first downs even when everyone knew he was thowing to him.

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