Why the New England Patriots' 2012 Offense Could Be Better Than 2007
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But the 2012 Patriots offense has a chance to be just as imposing and even more difficult to defend than the 2007 offense was.
In fact, there's no reason the expectations shouldn't be on par or even higher than that historic season.
Weapons in Place
In 2012, though, the Patriots return Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, all of whom are coming off of highly respectable seasons, and Gronkowski is coming off of a record-setting one.
And who knows? With a full offseason program, even Chad Ochocinco could be poised to contribute, but it's safe to say that the Patriots will probably be fine on offense even if he doesn't.
The Patriots have been one of the most efficient offenses in the league over the past two seasons, and the returning cast of characters should only help the Patriots offense continue to improve.
But as we all know, it's not just about the weapons that are already in place.
The biggest question mark around the Patriots offense in 2011 was the lack of a deep threat, an outside-the-numbers guy to take the focus off of the middle of the field.
The Patriots grabbed that question mark at both ends and straightened it out into an exclamation point with the addition of several wide receivers: Brandon Lloyd, Anthony Gonzalez, Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney.
How is this different than in '07, when the Patriots also added a slew of receivers?
For starters, many of the receivers the Patriots have added are already intimately familiar with Josh McDaniels' offense—Lloyd, Stallworth and Gaffney all have at least one year of service under the Patriots offensive coordinator.
Randy Moss is one of the most physically gifted receivers of our generation, possibly in NFL history, but he was not coming off of dazzling seasons before he joined New England. Any dreams of a big season for Moss were based on the reputation he had built years prior, and on the hope that he would come to work and be motivated to play for the Patriots.
Lloyd, on the other hand, is coming off of the two most productive seasons of his career, both of which came in McDaniels' offense. No one will try to argue he's a better receiver than Moss, but we've seen what he can do in the system, and we've seen him do it recently.
Gaffney is a familiar weapon for Brady and is coming off of the best season of his career, in a year in which he was not only drawing an opponent's best cornerback, but in which he was also catching passes from Rex Grossman and John Beck (sorry, guys).
Brady didn't light up scoreboards prior to 2007, but once the weapons were around him, he never looked back.
Brady has looked sharper than ever the past two seasons, and if he can build off of his performances—in which he's had little more than two tight ends and a slot receiver to throw to—Brady himself could be headed for one of the most productive seasons of his career.
His record-setting 50 touchdowns is an unprecedented number, but Brady's efficiency since then has been unbridled.
The concern over his age is realistic, but before 2007, there was no indication that Brady would see the statistical explosion that helped the Patriots go undefeated in the regular season.
The foundation for a statistically dominant 2012, though, has already been laid.
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