New England Finally Clicking on Offense Makes Patriots Primed for Super Bowl Run

Andrew TornettaCorrespondent IIDecember 2, 2013

Dec 1, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) spikes the football after a touchdown reception in the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

As the calendar flips to December, the New England Patriots are right where they seem to always begearing up for another run at the Super Bowl.

While the final weeks of the season may seem like Groundhog Day for many fanswith the Patriots wrapping up another division title along with home-field advantage for the fourth straight year—this season has followed a much different script than most.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Patriots opened this season with far more questions on the offensive end than on defense.

Tom Brady's best weapons from last season were either injured (Rob Gronkowski), in jail (Aaron Hernandez) or in Denver (Wes Welker), and for the first two months, the offense suffered in a major way.

After a rough start to the season, Tom Brady has averaged 360 yards per game with 10 touchdowns over his last four games.
After a rough start to the season, Tom Brady has averaged 360 yards per game with 10 touchdowns over his last four games.Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

After the first seven games, Brady was 30th in the league in yards per attempt, 29th in completion percentage and 29th in touchdown percentage. He was completing 55.7 percent of his passes and in the midst of one of the worst seasons of his career.

But then the Pittsburgh Steelers came to town and everything began to click.

With each passing week, Brady and the rest of the offense have gotten on the same page and they are now firing on all cylinders, putting up 143 points over their last four games.

The defense hasn't been stellar, but the offense has proven that it can put up points in bunches, making furious comebacks against the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans over the last two weeks.

The biggest difference has been the return of Gronkowski, who is proving to be not only the best tight end in the league, but one of the best all-around players in the game as well. Over the last four weeks, Gronkowski has averaged 104.8 yards per game, catching a total of 27 passes and three touchdowns.

As Gronk goes, so does this Patriot offense. He is preparing for what should be his first playoff run at full health in three years.

Shane Vereen returned from a broken wrist three weeks ago, giving the Patriots another major offensive weapon.
Shane Vereen returned from a broken wrist three weeks ago, giving the Patriots another major offensive weapon.Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots have also been very effective at running the ball all season, even with a fumble-prone Stevan Ridley as the lead back.

As a team, New England has averaged 122.8 rushing yards per game and has the ability to go to its workhorse in Ridley or a running-back-by-committee approach featuring Shane Vereen, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden.

Despite the fact that Danny Amendola has been a major bust in replacing Welker, he is still a very talented player and can have a big impact over the rest of the seasonas long as he is healthy.

Add in Julian Edelman, who is in the midst of the best season of his career, and a pair of talented rookies that have shown great flashes in Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, and this Patriots offense is far better than we could have ever expected.

The bigger question now goes back to the defense, a unit that was carrying the team early in the year before Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo went down with season-ending injuries.

Wilfork and Mayo won't be coming back for the playoffs, so the fate of the Patriot defense will be in the hands of cornerback Aqib Talib. Unfortunately, he has been battling a hip injury of his own, causing his play to suffer.

If Talib can get healthy and back to his early-season formwhen he shut down Vincent Jackson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Jimmy Graham in consecutive weeks—and the offense can carry the load, this New England defense is certainly championship-caliber. 

This has been arguably the most adverse regular season for the Patriots in the Brady-Bill Belichick era. The team has overcome major losses in the offseason and over the course of the year, and has already proven it can beat its biggest threat in the AFC.

Providing they can stay healthy, this may finally be the year for Brady and the rest of the Patriots offense to lead the team on a deep playoff run that may end with his fourth Lombardi Trophy.


Andrew Tornetta is a contributor for Bleacher Report. You can find his B/R archive and follow him on Twitter @AndrewTornetta.