New England Patriots Q&A Session

Chad is spoiled, he gets his name on the back of his practice jersey
Photo Credit: CMYKcolours

Where do we start with the Patriots? Bill Belichick’s dubious injury reports? Tom Brady’s mullet? Ochocinco’s stanky leg? Let’s begin with the offensive foundation, the o-line. New England has one of the best offensive lines in the game, no team pass blocks better than the Pats, and Belichick continued to add reinforcements to the trenches by drafting Nate Soldier (Rd 1 pick 17) and Marcus Cannon (talented, but medical issues pushed him down to Rd 5). Tom Brady will have plenty of time to dissect defenses and the run game will have room to operate. Because of the strong play from the o-line (and Tom Brady) the Patriots provide us with many fantasy assets. To help us get a better feel for how the offense will operate we got in touch with a fellow Bloguin site, Foxboro Blog. Let’s go.

Bill O’Brien has been promoted from QB Coach to Offensive Coordinator. I believe he was calling plays for the team last year, yes? Will anything change in terms of their offensive philosophy now that O’Brien has a new title? Will the team run more often this year after drafting two RB (Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley)?

I see Bill O’Brien’s title change as nothing more than that. Last year O’Brien did a great job mixing the run and pass as evidenced by Green-Ellis’ 1,000-yard season and Brady’s incredibly efficient season. With O’Brien officially named as the offensive coordinator, I think he will continue to run the same type of offense as he did in 2010. However, with the drafting of Vereen and Ridley, along with fifth-round tight end Lee Smith, I could see the Pats making a concerted effort to establish the run game more often. Last season BJGE was solid, but received many of his carries after the Pats had already established the lead. This year, I see the team taking an aggressive approach in using all four of their young backs (BJGE, Woodhead, Vereen and Ridley) since they complement each other so well.

— Stephen Sheehan, Foxboro Blog

The Pats acquired the extra point kicking, river dancing Chad Ochocinco. We’ve seen wide receivers come to New England and rejuvenate their career (Randy Moss), but we’ve also seen wide receivers come to New England to pick out their burial plot (Torry Holt). Ochocinco had a down season last year in Cincinnati, averaging 59 yards per game on his way to 831 yards and 4 TD. Tom Brady has a grip load of weapons at his disposal, do you expect Ocho to experience a boost in his numbers, ala Randy Moss, or just maintain status quo as his career winds down?

Chad Ochocinco had been asking for a trade for quite some time, and he finally got his request. A new environment in New England with established leaders should be much better than the losing environment in Cincinnati. I don’t expect a drastic change in his fantasy production though. In fact, I see Ochocinco putting up very similar numbers to last season’s statistics. 800-900 yards and 4-6 touchdowns is what I expect him to produce in New England. Ochocinco is 33 years old and has never been a deep threat that Randy Moss once was. Furthermore, Tom Brady has never been known to have a favorite receiver that he locks on to. Ochocinco will have to compete with a myriad of offensive talent for targets. Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and the other young wide receivers for the Pats will all get their fair share of looks from Tom Brady. As long as Ochocinco doesn’t sulk when he goes on statistical droughts, he should be able to contribute as both a team player and a fantasy player. Draft Ochocinco as your third wide receiver and you could get great value if Brady and Ochocinco develop the rapport that Brady and Randy Moss once had.

— Trevor Naglieri, Foxboro Blog

Let’s get to the biggest question mark for the Pats offense, the run game. New England averaged 4.3 yards per carry as a team in ’10, good for 10th best in the NFL. The team can move the ball on the ground, but the backfield is crowded. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the most useful fantasy back in 2010 as he received the majority of the carries, as well as the most important touches near the goal line. Many in the fantasy community expect a decrease in workload for BJGE and the emergence of the downhill running Stevan Ridley has some wondering about Green-Ellis‘ goal line assignments. What do you expect from the Patriots run game this year? How will they split the workload between BJGE, Woodhead, Ridley and Vereen?

All four of these backs will have an opportunity to carve out a niche for themselves, but I still see the Law Firm handling the goal line work and leading the team in touches in 2011. The 1000+ yards and 13 TDs were nice last season, but the coaching staff might actually be more impressed with BJGE’s 300+ career carries without a fumble. He’s not likely to touch the ball 300 times this year, but another 200+ carries is not out of the question. Ridley had a huge outing in his first preseason game, but I can’t imagine they’ll trust the rookie right away when the game is on the line. I expect Ridley to factor in more when the Patriots are trying to salt away big fourth-quarter leads to help keep the guys at the top of the depth chart fresh. Woodhead is firmly entrenched as the third-down back, but I think he could lose some of his change-of-pace carries to Vereen.

— Jason Thompson, Foxboro Blog

As long as Stevan Ridley doesn’t steal goal line touches from BJGE I’m on board with his ADP (50-65 depending where you look). Getting your number called 200 times, and receiving the goal line touches for the Patriots is good wok. Because the entire fantasy community expects regression BenJarvus Green-Ellis should provide solid value as a end of Rd 5 or early Rd 6 draft pick. I cannot guarantee that Stevan Ridley doesn’t poach touchdowns, but BJGE did well there last year and has not fumbled once in his NFL career.

I’d like to thank the guys from Foxboro Blog – a New England Patriots blog – for sharing their thoughts on the potential offensive shift, Chad Ochocinco and the backfield. 

More Q&A Sessions: Colts, Jaguars