Back in the spring, the largest question mark hovering over the Patriots was their collection of pass-catchers. Now, it’s one of New England’s greatest areas of strength.
The Patriots received a major lift when Josh Gordon was reinstated by the NFL, but arguably an even bigger boost came days before the start of the 2019 season. The Patriots jumped at the opportunity to acquire one of the league’s top wideouts in Antonio Brown, and the star WR is off to a hot start with his new team.
Brown registered four catches for 56 yards with a touchdown in his Patriots debut, less than a week after he officially signed with New England. Considering how AB looked after spending a short time in the Patriots’ playbook, it’s safe to say the sky is the limit for Brady, Brown and the rest of New England’s offense.
Just ask former Pats defensive coordinator Eric Mangini.
“They gave him a nice little package that was very easy to execute. Ran a speed out against off coverage, ran a hitch against off coverage. He ran an inside fade against press man. They’re all reasonable routes and they’re all routes he’s gonna win on a consistent basis,” Mangini said Monday on FS1’s “First Things First.” “The inside fade, I know there’s some discussion whether there was pass interference or not, but those types of plays that he can make in press coverage, it dramatically changes this offense. If Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown can stay with the Patriots and a part of this offense, they’re gonna be really, really difficult to beat by anybody because now you put (Julian) Edelman inside, you got the backs coming out of the backfield. They have not had firepower like that with Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown on the outside. I can’t think of a time where they’ve had talent like that available on the perimeter and then all the things they can do inside with the backs and Edelman, where do you want to push the coverage? Who do you want to take away?”
There really might not be any successful answers to Mangini’s questions. If Brady and Co. are firing on all cylinders, there probably isn’t a defense in the league capable of stopping them. That might be a big if, though, given the uncertainty surrounding Gordon and Brown.
But it’s so far, so good for the 2019 Patriots, who should be able to improve to 3-0 with relative ease Sunday afternoon when they welcome the banged-up New York Jets to Gillette Stadium.
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images