Before an NFL team turns the page on the previous season and moves forward to the next, they put the team and players under a microscope to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be changed/altered to make progress moving forward.
That goes for everyone -- yes, even for Super Bowl champions.
Obviously, we have no idea what the Patriots’ internal grading looks like, and we don’t anticipate Bill Belichick opening up his grade book anytime soon. So, we’re left to do our homework with some assistance from people who have knowledge of how the Patriots view things.
So we’ll start our dissection (an homage to my mentor, Bob McGinn) with an overview of the team and positions, and then we’ll move onto individual player grades/assessments. Finally, we’ll conclude with our often-imitated but never-duplicated offseason depth chart, coded for performance and contract status, and with a comprehensive analysis of team needs headed into the ’19 offseason.
Now: Part II — Team grades for passing offense, rushing offense.
Next: Part III — Team grades for passing defense, rushing defense.
Then: Part IV — Team grades for special teams, personnel moves, coaching and overall.
Finally: Part V—Individual offensive, Part VI—Defensive grades.
And with that, let’s get started…
PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus (Last year: A)
Definitely a step back for this unit. While the final FootballOutsiders.com passing DVOA ranking (fourth) looked fine, the Patriots slid back greatly (for them) in just about every passing category. Of course, they were first in everything a year ago. But the passing DVOA was their lowest since