Getting Passing Game On Track Biggest Task For New England Patriots’ Offense Versus Oakland Raiders


Unlike the previous two weeks, the key for the New England Patriots’ offense in this game is not focused on the running game. I am not saying it should be completely ignored, as that would lead to trouble for the Pats, but they need to work on their passing game, and fine-tune it before the competition begins to get harder.

Through two weeks, the Patriots rank 27th in the league in both total offense, and passing offense, and dead last in yards per pass attempt. In their season opener against Miami, Tom Brady just didn’t have enough time in the pocket to do anything, and nobody aside from Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski did anything in week two against the Vikings (although Brady did tend to overlook other open guys at times, which is an issue that must be addressed).

According to ‘Advanced Football Analytics’, the Patriots’ passing offense is 32nd in the league in WPA, and 30th in EPA. For those that aren’t familiar with these statistics, WPA stands for ‘Win Probability Added’. Basically, they take the specific situations of the game into consideration, and rank the teams based on how they perform in meaningful scenarios. EPA stands for ‘Expected Points Added’, which is calculating how a team performs in situations where points are on the line.

So, what can we take away from all of this? The Patriots passing offense needs some work.

Julian Edelman is off to a great start, but everybody else is lagging behind. Tom Brady needs to take this opportunity against a porous Raiders defense to try and get Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, and Aaron Dobson involved in the offense. You can say all you want about Amendola not living up to expectations, but he will never be able to prove his doubters wrong if Brady doesn’t give him a chance.

Amendola is a talented dude. He has the explosive speed, and quickness to abuse most defenders over the middle. He isn’t on Edelman’s level, but I guarantee he could start on 90% of NFL rosters. But for some reason, Brady does not trust him, LaFell, or Dobson right now. He gets keyed in on Edelman and Gronkowski, and refuses to look anywhere else.

This is a habit that he must break if the Patriots want to be one of the top offensive units in the league this year, so look for the Pats to really work on this on Sunday. They will establish a running game early with Stevan Ridley, not only to set a tone for the game, but to help out the offensive line in protecting Brady. Part of the reason Brady forces it to Edelman and Gronk, is because he wants to get the ball out quick, due to a weak offensive line.

If New England’s offensive line continues to improve, and the running game is effective early, the Patriots need to give their passing offense some work. Hopefully Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels are thinking along the same lines, and get their aerial attack ready to go for a looming matchup with the Bengals.