The 2013 season could have been something great for the Patriots. If it weren’t for all of the injuries they had to endure, I would be willing to bet a lot of money that they would currently be Super Bowl champions. But that isn’t what happened. Instead, injuries to key players on both sides of the ball pretty much shot down any chance New England had at winning the Super Bowl, with Rob Gronkowski‘s ACL tear in week 14 serving as the back breaker. But despite all of the horrible injuries they sustained, somehow, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick led the Pats to a 12-4 record, a division title, a two seed in the AFC playoffs, and they came one game away from advancing to the Super Bowl.
Now that this up and down season is over, all of our attention has turned to the offseason, and how New England can improve for the 2014 season. Something that has definitely been a common topic among Pats fans, is how we think they should go about re-tooling their offense. But let’s take a second to evaluate how this unit performed in 2013. Yes, there were definitely some growing pains early on with the rookie receivers, but considering all of the players that went down due to injury, I think this group played much better than we give them credit for.
According to ‘Advanced NFL Stats‘, the Patriots ranked fifth in the NFL in offensive EPA, while checking in at fourth in offensive WPA. EPA stands for ‘Expected Points Added’, and WPA stands for ‘Win Probability Added’. These basically show how well a team, or player performed throughout a season, and how they helped their team put up points, and win football games.
So after all of the crap we may have given Tom Brady’s offensive unit throughout the year, they finished ranked in the top four and five in two of the most telling stats in all of football. With the exception of the 2007 Giants, and the 2008 Steelers, every Super Bowl winning team since 2004 has ranked in the top 10 in offensive EPA. Even the defensive minded Seahawks had an offense ranked high in this category, checking in at seventh in EPA, and ninth in WPA. Including the playoffs, the Pats had a 115.9 EPA score, and a 4.59 WPA score. When you dive deeper into the statistics, it is revealed that most of the damage New England did on offense, was via the air. They ranked fourth in passing EPA, checking in with a score of 112.2, and finished 2013 third in passing WPA, with a score of 3.75. Individually speaking, the Patriots still performed quite well according to these ‘Advanced NFL Stats’. Tom Brady ranked third in WPA among quarterbacks (4.06), and fifth in EPA (114.7). While Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman ranked 10th and 11th in WPA, with scores of 1.84 and 1.83, respectively. LeGarrette Blount and company were still respectable on the ground, ranking 14th in EPA, and 13th in WPA, but it is obvious that the aerial attack was what got the Patriots through the season.
If you are one of those fans that want the Patriots to break the bank for a Larry Fitzgerald, then I would take a closer look at how this offense played in 2013. They may have had some rough moments, but when it is all said and done, they finished ranked in the top five in one of the best offensive rankings you will be able to find, and if I were running the Pats, I wouldn’t want to change much, heading into the 2014 season. With that being said, I still want them to go after a small name guy (Emmanuel Sanders is a favorite of mine), to instill some explosion in the offense. It’s been a while since the Pats had a legit down-field threat, and it would be nice to see them have the option of opening up the playbook, and taking some vertical shots.