Patriots ’20 Questions: How will offense look schematically without Tom Brady?

Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable
July 08, 2020 - 11:29 am

The Patriots are in the midst of the most interesting, important offseason in more than two decades. Tom Brady moved on to Tampa Bay. Bill Belichick remains in place with a veteran roster. There are plenty of questions and even more plentiful opinions regarding the defending AFC East champions. Over the next few weeks will ask and offer up answers to 20 of the most critical questions facing the 2020 Patriots.

Today’s question: How will the offense look schematically without Tom Brady?

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Hannable: It will look a lot different and that is one of the reasons why the Patriots brought in veteran coach Jedd Fisch. All Josh McDaniels has known for the last several years is the Tom Brady-led offense, which does not have any mobile features such as RPOs, rollouts, etc. That will change this season no matter who is at quarterback -- Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham.

Expect to see a lot of new concepts that are not just a three-step drop and getting the ball out quick. Plays will take more time to develop and likely will include the quarterback being on the move. Fisch comes from the Rams the last two years and the college game before that, so he has a good sense of what works and what doesn't work with mobile quarterbacks.

Also, expect more chances to be taken. At times Brady shied away from making some throws out of fear they would be intercepted. No matter who is at quarterback chances will be taken, which also likely means more turnovers. It also means more exciting plays could be made with the pass-catchers getting the chance to make a play on a 50/50 ball. This could be an area where N'Keal Harry shines.

No matter what it looks like, the Patriots offense will be an interesting watch each and every week to see all the new concepts that most of the NFL has adopted in recent years except the Patriots because of Brady.

Hart: In short, more athletic and at times probably less efficient. Brady had plenty of obvious strengths, including decision-making, accuracy and overall field awareness. But TB12 certainly wasn’t winning too many games with his feet (though his pocket mobility was more than good enough for most of his career) or athleticism. Enter the new-look New England offense. And this isn’t just a Cam Newton thing. Even if Jarrett Stidham had won the job – or maybe still wins the job – Josh McDaniels and the rest of staff would be implementing a scheme taking advantage of a more mobile quarterback.

This season in New England is likely to see some zone reads, RPOs, bootlegs and roll-outs that weren’t really a factor in the Brady-led offense. We’re not talking about some Lamar Jackson-type offense, but more a combination of what Seattle runs with Russell Wilson, K.C. with Patrick Mahomes or L.A. with Jared Goff.

Only time will tell how good the Patriots offense will be in 2020 – and much of the questions about the potential of the unit revolve just as much around the production at wide receiver, tight end, running back and the line as with the quarterback position – but the scheme is certainly set to be different under the direction of McDaniels and underrated, newly-hired quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch. It should be fun to see what it looks like and maybe even fun to see how good it can be.

Related: Could Titans be an option for Stephen Gostkowski?