When the New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2002, they were defensive minded and played a ball control style. This style produced 3 championships in 4 years. As the NFL evolved into a passing league, so did the Patriots. They have featured one of the most potent offenses in NFL history, but have failed to grasp the ultimate prize.
Wes Welker has been tagged with the franchise designation. Could this be his last season in New England?
The team has expanded their wide receiver options in the off-season bringing in Brandon Lloyd, Anthony Gonzalez, Donte’ Stallworth, and Jabar Gaffney.
They have also signed multiple fullbacks and huge blocking tight end Daniel Fells. Is this the end of the Brady to Welker era? Before Welker arrived Brady was able to transform average wide receivers into upper echelon players; for example Troy Brown, David Givens, David Patten, and Deion Branch to name a few. The offense used to feature multiple screen plays and a heavy dose of play action passing; this has taken a backseat to the short passing game.
Comparisons are being made to the later years of the Dan Marino led Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins system had grown to be so complex that only older veterans who had been with Marino for a while could fit in. In an effort to not repeat history, new Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels is reportedly simplifying the offense. The Patriots have strengthened their offensive line, running backs, and tight ends recently through the draft. In my opinion we will now begin to see a more balanced attack, instead of relying on Wes Welker so much.
Change is sometimes difficult, but to remain consistent Super Bowl contenders the Patriots will have to evolve from the Brady to Welker era.