Each week, Mark Schofield reviews the film to find the New England Patriots Optimum Offense Play of the Week. Against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1 it was Rob Gronkowski’s touchdown reception in the 2nd quarter.
Patriots’ 2nd & Goal at the Dolphins’ 6-yard line 8:45 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
On the 13th play of a drive that would cover 94 yards, New England lined up in a single-back formation using 12 personnel with Tom Brady under center and Stevan Ridley in the backfield. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman were aligned in a slot formation to the left, while Michael Hoomanawanui lined up on the line to the right with Rob Gronkowski split out wide right. Miami set up in a 4-3 alignment with nickel personnel, using an over front on the defensive line.
In a straight drop-back passing play, New England brought Amendola in short motion from the left sideline, setting up a stack in the left slot with Edelman just as the ball was snapped. The pair ran a short five- to seven-yard crossing combination on the left, with Amendola breaking under Edelman to the outside at the goal-line while Edelman ran a deeper route, breaking over the middle of the end zone.
Hoomanawanui and Ridley stayed in to help with pass protection, while Gronkowski ran a delayed drag route over the middle of the field. Miami rushed four down linemen at the snap of the ball, and when the strong-side linebacker recognized that Ridley was staying in the backfield to block, he came on a blitz in an attempt to put pressure on Brady. The Dolphins played Cover 1 in the secondary, with the two remaining defenders aligned at linebacker (one of them a defensive back) in underneath zone coverage. The pass protection was solid, at least on this play, giving Brady time to step up in the pocket. This allowed Gronkowski time to get separation from his defender and provide his quarterback with a massive end zone target, where he hauled in his first TD catch of the season.
While the day ended with a New England loss, fans can take comfort in the Patriots optimum offense play of the week featuring an element missing last season – the big receiving target in the red zone – has returned and looks ready to give his quarterback a fantastic option in the scoring area.
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