After sitting out the last three weeks with an ankle injury, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has made the trip to Seattle with the team putting him in position to play. The Patriots offense changed when Hernandez was injured and with the star back, the team could revert back to their former offensive style.
Before Hernandez was injured during his team’s week two loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Patriots continued their tight end based passing game that started in 2011. For that offense to work the team needed their two star tight ends Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. When Hernandez injured his ankle, the team adjusted with a new offensive style.
The Patriots new style was a fast paced offense focused on three receivers instead of two tight ends. This style saw an increase of game time for four-time Pro Bowler Wes Welker who seemed to be out of favor with the Patriots coaches in the first two weeks. A common worry was that Hernandez’s injury would slow down the offense that was carrying the team but the offense continued to shine and leads the NFL in yards and scoring.
With Hernandez back, there may be a change in the offense yet again. The Patriots did try to continue their successful style when they signed veteran tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. but after only one game he requested and was granted his release. Now with Hernandez back the Patriots may finally go back to the tight end focused offense.
What may keep the Patriots from going back to that style in Seattle Sunday is Hernandez’s health. While he did travel with the team to Seattle, Hernandez is still not 100 percent and that may keep head coach Bill Belichick from depending on him too much. Another problem is that their newest style has been successful. After starting the season 1-2, the Patriots have won their last three games and are atop the AFC East.
While it’s still unknown what type of offense the Patriots will go with the remainder of the season, they now have a choice. With Hernandez back they could revert to the offense that defenses around the league feared or they can continue with the offense that has the Patriots leading the league in yards and scoring. Either way the Patriots will look to retain the league’s most dominant offense.