Optimum Offense: Patriots Offensive Play of Week 3

After a Sunday that saw New England go three-and-out on their opening series, three-and-out to start the third quarter, and three-and-out on their last meaningful drive, there is no disputing that the Patriots struggled to keep drives alive against the Oakland Raiders. However, on a crucial 3rd and 15 play with 9:48 left in the game, Tom Brady and the Patriot offense were able to extend a drive thanks to a 22-yard reception by tight end Rob Gronkowski. New England would finish the drive with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal and extend their lead to 16-9, completing the scoring for the afternoon.

The previous play saw Danny Amendola look to convert a 3rd and 5 with a nice catch and run up the field.  Unfortunately, for the second week in a row, what looked to be a big conversion from the receiver was called back due to offensive pass interference. New England, clinging to a four-point lead in the 4th quarter, now faced 3rd and 15 from their own 29-yard line. Brady lined up in the shotgun flanked by Brandon Bolden on his right and Shane Vereen to his left with Kenbrell Thompkins split wide to the right. Also to his left, Brady had Julian Edelman wide and Gronkowski in the slot. Oakland countered with their dime personnel, utilizing their NASCAR front of LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith, and Khalil Mack, which had frustrated the Patriots all day.

As this play unfolds, watch the little chip block that Vereen executes on Mack. This subtle move changes the course of Mack’s rush and brings the rookie linebacker inside, where he and Tuck get swallowed up by the Patriots’ interior offensive line. This allows Brady time to step up in the pocket, set his feet, and deliver a strong throw over the middle. Downfield, Gronkowski is able to find the soft spot in the Raider Cover 2 ‒ over the middle between the safeties and behind the linebackers.

(Video Courtesy of Patriots.com)

Eight plays later, Gostkowski drilled a 36-yarder, his third three-point kick of the day, to extend New England’s lead to seven. While the Patriot offense failed to produce the fireworks New England fans had hoped for, their ability to do the little things in big situations ‒ Vereen’s chip, Gronkowski’s route, and Brady’s throw on this play ‒ was enough to carry the day.

Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.

6 thoughts on “Optimum Offense: Patriots Offensive Play of Week 3

  1. There were two other notable Gronk plays, one successful and one not, and I wondered at the time of the second, successful play if they were identical plays run in mirror. In the case of the unsuccessful, I am referring to the play where Gronk lines up right, there was Play-action toward taht side while Gronk slid off his block and went all the way across the field to the left, leaving him wide open as the whole Raider team pursued the fake to their left. Unfortunately Brady badly overthrew Gronk.

    Later it seemed like the same play ou reversed with Gronk lined left and the PA heading taht way while Gronk slipped out to the right flat for an easy completion.

  2. Yeah, good observation. The first play was exactly as you described. They fake the stretch play to Gronk’s side of the formation, he simulates a block and then runs a route over the middle. Brady missed that one.
     
    BradyOverthrowtoGronk.png
     
    With how open Gronk was, I think this was a case of the effect of constant pressure. The blocking is good but Brady sets his feet a little quicker than usual before the throw. I think he rushed it.
     
    And you are exactly right, the later play (both were in the second quarter) was a mirror of the first. 

  3. Yeah, good observation. The first play was exactly as you described. They fake the stretch play to Gronk’s side of the formation, he simulates a block and then runs a route over the middle. Brady missed that one.
     
    BradyOverthrowtoGronk.png
     
    With how open Gronk was, I think this was a case of the effect of constant pressure. The blocking is good but Brady sets his feet a little quicker than usual before the throw. I think he rushed it.
     
    And you are exactly right, the later play (both were in the second quarter) was a mirror of the first. 

     
    I don’t have the All 22 replays but they showed a quick replay of this on Sunday. It looked to me like Gronk slowed down in his route, thinking possibly to sit in the zone where Brady could hit him. Brady, to my eyes, looked like he was expecting his route to continue. Not sure it was necessary innaccurate, but possibly some miscommunication. 

  4. It was 95% on Brady. Gronk may have slowed down just a bit, but if a guy is that wide open you have to give the ball some loft so there’s more of a margin of error. Terrible throw. Of course would help if Gronk had even a 2nd gear…hopefully he gets some of his speed back as the season goes on.

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