Groupings: Gronk factor adds to flexibility

One of the things that will be charted on a weekly basis is the positional groupings used by the New England Patriots' offense, as they reveal player value and take us deeper into the X's and O's of how coordinator Josh McDaniels is attempting to attack the opposition.

Overall, the Patriots remain an offense that calls on the three-receiver package the majority of the time. That is their primary grouping in two-minute and hurry-up situations.

But in recent weeks, as tight end Rob Gronkowski has rounded into form and is now playing every snap, the diversity and flexibility of the groupings has been notable. For example, against the Broncos last Sunday night, the Patriots ran 45 of 86 snaps out of the three-receiver package, 25 of 86 snaps with multiple tight ends and 21 of 86 snaps with two backs.

Often times, a playcaller like McDaniels will be more effective when he has more options to choose from, and that's what the present picture looks like.

On the season, here is a simplified breakdown of the team's 825 offensive snaps (including penalties, not kneel-downs):

3 or more WRs: 506 of 825

2 or more TEs: 193 of 825

2 backs: 181 of 825

There is a 55-play overlap, which accounts for snaps in which there was a combination of 3 WRs/2 backs and 2-3 TEs/2 backs.