Over the last few years, the New England Patriots have been all about the two-TE sets. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were the big reason that the Patriots were so successful in those two TE sets. With the Hernandez situation and Gronkowski’s injuries this season, the Patriots have gone away from the TE-heavy sets as they try to find success on offense.
Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots rolled out something we have not seen a lot this year.
With Danny Amendola returning from injury in Week 5, the Patriots played many three-receiver sets and even four-receiver sets. The Bengals game was the first time we saw offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels use a four-WR set a lot during the game. The Patriots lined up Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins on the outside with Julian Edelman and Amendola in the slot.
If Gronk does not play this week, this is a package we could see more of this week against the undefeated New Orleans Saints.
For a team that rode their TEs the last few years, they have done the complete opposite this year. In 361 offensive plays, the Patriots have gone with a two-TE set for only 71 of those plays, which is under 20 percent. Out of all the offensive snaps this year, over 63 percent has been three- or more wide receiver sets.
If Gronk is unable to go this week, look for that number to increase. Once Gronk comes back, this number may go down a bit, but it is clear that the Patriots have changed their philosophy on offense.