The New England Patriots release of tight end Aaron Hernandez has triggered panicked responses across the Internet, the “blogosphere”, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr,etc) as Patriots fans and fantasy football enthusiasts try to comprehend what this means for the high-powered New England Patriots offense and their production in 2013. Fans of the other AFC teams have been hoping for over a decade now that this is the year that the New England Patriots juggernaut finally slips off the track. However, this team is built to withstand injuries and constantly turnover talent and replace the old with the new.
MusketFire.com Lead Editor Joe Soriano had a great piece about replacing Hernandez with some great analysis here looking at the offense and bringing in some great insight with advanced statistics. In this piece the goal is to follow-up on Joe’s hard work and is giving a different perspective to identify and investigate five options the Patriots can employ to pick-up the slack on offense in light of Hernandez’s release.
The New England Patriots had already made the decision to move forward with a revamp and retooling of their high-powered offense this past off-season. In fact, it can be argued that the Patriots made that decision when they brought back Josh McDaniels before the 2012 Super Bowl and he replaced current Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator.
The past season saw the Patriots continue to evolve with a return to and emphasis on the running game, whether it be a one-back set with two tight-ends and two wide receivers, or a one-back set with one tight-end (or H-back) and three wide receivers. The emphasis on the running game opened up the play-action pass into the arsenal for the first time since former Patriots running back Laurence Maroney was lugging the rock effectively in 2007.
The Patriots have also taken steps to significantly upgrade their receiving corps for the first time since 2007 with an increase of youth, athleticism, and size. As the offense evolves and the changes get put into place during training camp, the finished product will likely not be evident until September or more likely October, as Bill Belichick has long used September games as an extension of the pre-season games while ramping up for the later part of the season. The following slideshow will highlight the five ways the New England Patriots can replace former tight end Aaron Hernandez’s production on the field without missing a beat: