Offseason Playbook: Patriots

A look at New England's philosophy, team needs and a key free-agent move

Originally Published: February 26, 2013
By Gary Horton and Field Yates | ESPN Insider
Tom BradyRichard C. Lewis/Icon SMIWith Tom Brady receiving an extension, the Patriots have room to make other moves.

In a new offseason series, Insider takes an in-depth look at NFL teams before free agency begins March 12. What is each team's philosophy on offense and defense, biggest needs and one player who could make for an ideal signing in free agency?

Team philosophies

Offense -- Josh McDaniels continues to run one of the most creative and diverse offenses in the NFL with Tom Brady calling the shots. It is still a spread offense with multiple-receiver sets, two tight ends, a lot of motion, empty backfield looks and some up-tempo no-huddle. The Patriots are constantly probing defenses to find favorable matchups. As prolific as this passing game is, the Patriots made a concerted effort to become more physical and balanced with an improved run game in 2012 and it worked out well. Not only did they attack more between the tackles, but they also added some zone blocking and designed Brady rollouts to the offense, which made play-action much more effective.

Sight adjustment is a big part of this passing game and receivers must run precise routes, read the same coverages as Brady and make the proper adjustments. The Patriots have tremendous variety in their personnel packages and the tight ends are nightmare matchups for defenses. This is also the most creative red zone offense in the NFL.


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Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.