Patric Schneider/Associated Press
The only thing which makes figuring out new head coach Bill O’Brien’s offense is the lack of a quarterback to fit the scheme he ran in Penn State and that the New England Patriots ran when he was with the team.
For that system, a quarterback has to have size and mobility.
His current quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has neither of those traits in abundance. He is smart enough on paper (he is a Harvard grad for goodness sake), though his issues at the end of his Buffalo Bills' tenure won’t fill you with confidence.
One of his backups, rookie Tom Savage, fits the size requirement but is tremendously raw and unproven. It’s the right move to avoid throwing him into the fire, given you have no idea what will happen when he gets there.
Case Keenum played well in moments last season, but the more pressure he saw, the more quickly he seemed to fall apart. Like Fitzpatrick, he lacks the height to work in what we expect O’Brien’s scheme to be.
Aside from the quarterback, we can expect multiple-tight end sets and a strong push with the run game.
There will be defensive changes as well, though assuming O’Brien lets new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel do his thing, we have a fair idea it’s at least still a base 3-4.
Further, while most teams will run a hybrid team out of whatever base they start with, Crennel is pretty old-school. So we could see him run a 3-4 and mean it.
We’ll get a good look at what Crennel’s 3-4 is when camp begins. He tends to favor big middle and outside linebackers, with the middle backers jamming the middle and the outside linebackers able to drop into coverage.
The real question will be what happens to J.J. Watt, though, as Crennel’s scheme doesn’t tend to get much production from the defensive end positions. How they adjust the scheme to still take advantage of his ability will be interesting to see unfold.