So for week two the matchup that cried out to be looked at in my continuing amateur adventures in film was the New England Patriots offence as they took on the Jaguars defence.
The Jaguars defence looked much how they did last season in that they really rely on their defensive line to get pass rush (although I thought they blitzed a bit more in this game than I was used to) and good coverage to stifle offences. It was also very obvious, particularly in the second half although I could have missed it that they were working really hard to disguise their coverages as their safeties move back and forwards trying to not give anything away.
The Patriots offence is always interesting to study and this game was no different. They use a lot more 21 personnel (two running backs and a tight end) than most teams but that didn’t necessarily mean that would line-up with two backs in the back field. If fact they would even go as far as to line-up with an empty backfield and both James White and fullback James Develin would run routes with White in particular being a genuine target for Brady and finished the game with seventy-three passing yards on seven receptions from eight targets. In fact I think the Patriots do a greater variety of things with the same personnel groupings than any other team in the league (waits for someone to prove me wrong).
However, there is a reason that they just traded with the Browns for Josh Gordon and that is that James White actually led the team in receiving yards in this game. They ran plenty of nice route combinations where the outside receiver run an in behind the slot receiver, which created a lot of space for the receiver against the Jaguars scheme. The problem is that they were not able to stress the defence long, which is why they will be hoping that if nothing else Gordon will be able to make opposing defences stop doubling Rob Gronkowski and run deep routes.
However, if that helps solve the problems in the passing game the other side of the offence still struggled with a faintly anaemic run game that only managed eighty-two yards on twenty-four rushes for an average of 3.4 yards per carry, which would look even worse if you removed the twelve and fifteen yard runs from Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel as well as the ten yard scramble from Tom Brady. That’s cherry picking a little but there were not a lot of holes opened by the Patriots offensive line, and whilst the Jaguars defensive line is very good, it’s something to keep an eye on. Particularly as whilst the Jaguars only sacked Brady twice, they affected a number of throws with their rush and a lesser quarterback than Brady would not have got rid of the ball as quickly or as safely as Brady does.
Still, I wouldn’t be hitting the panic button yet and I will be interested to see if Gordon can be assimilated successfully. The Patriots are a team whose scheme changes from week to week, and so how things develop is definitely something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. Maybe that could be an offseason project!