Ever since tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement in late March, the hot-button question has been how the New England Patriots will reshape their attack without him.
Josh McDaniels, the architect of the ever-evolving unit, keeps reminding everyone that he doesn’t have the answer right now. He isn’t being evasive as much as highlighting what has made the Patriots one of the most unique offenses in the NFL: a rare adaptability.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal
Last season, when the Patriots transformed to a smash-mouth approach in mid-December en route to their sixth Super Bowl championship, is a classic example of it.
“There are still a lot of unknowns, still a lot of bridges you have to cross, a lot of reps we need to take and get better at and improve on,” McDaniels said as the 2019 preseason ended. “There are areas of the game that we will continue to improve on and develop our identity and our team over the course of the regular season, which will be a lot more telling than what I know at this moment.”
Specific to personnel, McDaniels obviously knows more now than he did in spring practices and training camp.
Four-year veteran Matt LaCosse (career-high 24 catches in 2018) and 2018 seventh-round draft choice Ryan Izzo (rookie season on injured reserve) are the lone tight ends. Veterans Benjamin Watson (four games) and Lance Kendricks (one game) are serving NFL suspensions to open the season.
Fullback James Develin, who played 35% of the offensive snaps last season, also factors significantly into the mix. Even when Gronkowski was on the field last season, and wasn’t often at his peak, Develin became a huge part of the attack.
This was a notable part of NFL Films’ “Do Your Job” special (NFL Network, 8 p.m. ET Wednesday) on the 2018 Patriots — how the offense turned to an old-school formula to turn its season around after back-to-back December losses to the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers.nfl nike jerseys cheap china
“One of the things that I’m so thoroughly impressed with Bill [Belichick] on is his ability to adapt and evolve. He said, ‘If you keep holding on to what [you’d] rather be — no-huddle, spread formations, 34 points per game — then you’re probably going to end up regretting a lot of things at the end of the year. What are we really good at? What’s the most consistent part of our team offensively?’ Then you commit to it,” McDaniels said in the special.