In a vacuum, the Patriots' offense has been very much a work in progress this camp.
That's actually being kind. It has looked downright ugly at times, especially in the passing game.
Jarrett Stidham started pressing two days in and missed the fifth day of practice with a lower-body injury despite being 24 and never being touched in practice. Cam Newton has often been hesitant with the ball and has taken a lot of checkdowns instead of pressing the ball downfield. Brian Hoyer, despite his problematic tic of patting the ball before throwing, has probably been the most consistent quarterback and, of course, has a better handle on the offense.
As for the receivers, N'Keal Harry has been missing in action (more on that below) the last two days and unimpressive in the other sessions. If you told me Mohamed Sanu wasn't at the last five practices, I wouldn't argue because he's been that invisible. Julian Edelman has been doing his usual camp routine where he's on or off depending on the day, but there are increasing moments he looks 34. There are a bunch of no-names — Devin Ross, Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd — doing most of the work.
As for the tight ends, Devin Asiasi has been OK but hasn't made many plays. Dalton Keene is either dropping passes or making a mental error. Ryan Izzo is a little better but he still has the limit of a No. 3 TE.
Two running backs (Sony Michel and Lamar Miller) haven't even been on the field yet and the season is three weeks away.
Sounds like we're headed for a disaster with the Patriots' offense, right?
Actually, quite the opposite. If you look closely and put practice events in their proper context, there's some really good stuff brewing for this offense that will be more apparent in the games than they are in these early sessions.
Do the Patriots and their quarterbacks look borderline terrible in 7-on-7s and sessions where they're running 20 straight third downs against a pretty good and deep secondary? Yes. And if Tom Brady was here, you'd understandably be worried about this team's prospects — like we were last summer.
But this is going to be a completely different Patriots offensive approach. It's basically going to be Bully Ball, with the biggest QB bully on the planet — yes the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton, not Hoyer — at the center of it.
Here's why, instead of a five-alarm fire, there's a quiet confidence building around the Patriots' offense: