After back-to-back weeks in which the Patriots trended toward more of a pure three-receiver offense, more balance returned to the attack in Sunday's win over the Colts in the form of multiple-TE packages.
This is a timely topic given the Patriots will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who underwent surgery on his broken forearm this morning. If the Patriots want to continue along this path, their tight end depth becomes all the more important.
2 WR/2 TE/1 RB -- 31 of 61
3 WR/1 TE/1 RB -- 25 of 61
4 WR/1 RB -- 3 of 61
1 WR/3 TE/1 RB -- 1 of 61
2 WR/1 TE/2 RB -- 1 of 61
(Penalties included. For purposes of these groupings, Michael Hoomanawanui was counted solely as a tight end, even though he's sometimes playing fullback-type responsibilities.)
ANALYSIS: The Patriots opened in their 3-wide package and received the expected information that the Colts would match with their nickel package. They then went to the different 2 WR/1 TE/2 RB package on the second snap -- with a Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen combination at running back -- and the Colts stayed in nickel. That looked to be an early experiment with their best pass-catching backs to see if the Colts might counter in base, which could have been an area to exploit. The Colts matched it well. Then came the fourth snap, in the base 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB grouping, and the Colts matched with their base 4-3. In what was partly a reflection of the Patriots likely feeling they could be successful throwing in both the 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB and 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB groupings -- with smaller, shiftier receivers in Wes Welker and Julian Edelman paired most often in the 2-WR package -- the snaps were split about evenly over the course of the game. Overall, the disappointment came in not being able to generate a consistent ground game in either grouping.