Everybody knows that the New England Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL. They are always in contention for the Super Bowl every year. They got the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady and the greatest head coach in Bill Belichick. Last season, they went 13-3 and went to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Eagles.
What’s amazing that the team did it without Julian Edelman who was out last season with a torn ACL. He is Brady’s go to possession receiver in the slot and they have a great chemistry. However, Edelman will miss the first four games of the season for violating the league substance abuse policy. In free agency, they traded away Brandin Cooks to the Rams and postseason star Danny Amendola signed with the division foe Dolphins.
The wide receiver position is a little bit of their weaknesses at the moment. They cut Malcolm Mitchell who starred in the team’s Super Bowl 52 victory because of his nagging knee injury, Jordan Matthews due to his hamstring issues and Kenny Britt who they signed last December after the Browns cut him. Additionally, Eric Decker who was signed to add to the receiver production, just retired. So, they are thin in the depth chart.
Here are the three wideouts to watch for in the place of Edelman.
The guy who people gave the nickname “Mr. 7 Eleven” because he gets open. The 2012 undraftee will step into the number one receiver role. He’s a guy that can get open down the field despite having a down season last year. In nine games, he only had 34 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns after leading the league in yards per catch (17.9) the year before. In the Super Bowl loss, he had six catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Hogan can take Edelman’s role in catching the short and underneath routes. The Patriots’ offense mainly specializes in the short and intermediate passing game. He has a great work ethic and has developed a connection with Brady. Also, he’s in a contract year meaning that he’ll be motivated to have a great year so that he can get that big payday.
The 2015 first round pick of the Colts will have more snaps on his plate. Last year, he was acquired from the Colts in a trade that sent away Jacoby Brissett after Edelman’s injury. He was listed as the fourth receiver and had 12 catches for 194 yards. He was good in the third preseason contest while developing chemistry with Brady.
On five targets, Dorsett had three catches for 23 yards including a fourth down conversion. Also, he brings speed as an element to this New England offense. Brady will to look towards him more often this season as he is gaining his trust with the work put in the offseason.
The speedy Patterson was traded from the Raiders in the offseason. He was a first round pick of the Vikings in 2013 but did not produce much as receiver. However, he is great as a kickoff returner and can take some inside handoffs and reverses for six points. For example, Patterson has the longest kickoff return for a touchdown in NFL history with 109 yards.
The two time Pro Bowler as a special teamer will play his role in kickoffs but also will get opportunities to catch some balls. Patterson has the athleticism and catch-and-run ability that will be beneficial in Josh McDaniels’ offense. For example, he can catch the ball at the line of scrimmage, make one guy miss and run in the end zone like he did against Eagles CB Sidney Jones IV. Also, he can catch a short crossing route, run away from defenders and get the first down when he did it versus the Panthers.
The Last Word
There were rumors about the Pats adding Dez Bryant to the mix but they might be content with who they have right now. These wideouts will have their work cut out for them until Edelman gets back from his suspension. New England still has the great Rob Gronkowski, James White, Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel to make up the targets left by Edelman. Tom Brady has shown that he can make unknown and unproven players into star so never underestimate his greatness. Last season, the Patriots offense were second in points scored and first in total offense so they will be just fine.