A look at the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots on offense over the 2008 season, and what it means:
(snaps include penalties that aren’t always counted as plays; do not include kneel-downs)
ANALYSIS: One of the main questions when Tom Brady was injured on the 15th offensive play of the season was “How will the offensive approach change with Matt Cassel under center?” After compiling the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots over the course of the 2008 season, there were slight alterations in the team's approach. In 2007, the Patriots ran 67 percent of their snaps in either three-receiver or four-receiver packages. In the 2008 season, it was 62 percent. The Patriots maintained the three-receiver package as their base for the second straight year, although a comparison to their 2007 positional groupings shows they did not run the four-receiver package as much as last year. It was impressive to watch the offense turn to its two-back power running game in the final two games. The Patriots had run the power-based 1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB a total of 84 times entering the final two games. But in the final two games – played in the snow against the Cardinals and the whipping winds against the Bills – they ran it 78 times. That is reflective of the team’s overall offensive approach to have the flexibility to morph into a different plan on a week to week basis. We are now two seasons removed from 2006, when the Patriots were building an attack around first-round tight ends Daniel Graham and Benjamin Watson. Two years later, they are now more receiver-based.