Sports Q

Sports Q: What was the main reason for the Patriots’ offensive struggles last season?

Debate the answer with Chad Finn and other Boston sports fans at The Sports Q.

Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Associated Press

Welcome to’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through TwitterFacebook, and email. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation. 

Was the Patriots’ inefficacious offense in 2019 due to a lack of talent surrounding Tom Brady, or was it Brady’s exclusion of the young/new players around him (Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, the TEs)? – Kaleb M.


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Hang on while I call my ol’ buddy Gasper to ask what inefficacious means. We have a sixth-grade vocabulary here, people. Seventh-grade on a good day …

Most questions that we take here at the Sports Q are of the either/or variety, or seek a specific name or team in the answer. There isn’t usually a lot of room for gray area. This question is different, because it’s impossible to answer it without acknowledging that both options are correct to some degree, and they aren’t even the only options.

As presented, I’d answer that it was more a talent/depth issue than a Brady issue. They looked stacked ever so briefly, when Antonio Brown was around and Josh Gordon was engaged. But that was fleeting, and by season’s end Brady had to count on young players like Meyers that he just did not trust. It’s not that the Patriots didn’t try to give Brady weapons. It’s that they didn’t stockpile reliable ones. I still can’t believe they paid Brown all of that money for one game.

Some of it is on Brady, too, of course. He was impatient, and it’s unfair to expect a player like Meyers or rookie first-rounder N’Keal Harry to be able to understand the calculus of the Patriots playbook on anything resembling his level. It’s silly to complain too much about Brady’s stubbornness – he’s the greatest winner in NFL history, and thus his way must be considered the right way for the most part — but I do wish there was more wiggle room for simplification to help get young players involved more. Not everyone can think the game the way Randy Moss or Deion Branch did. That doesn’t mean they can’t play it.


There’s also a hugely important third factor – injuries. Julian Edelman was one battered bro from Week 4 on. Harry got hurt in camp and played from behind when he did come back, but his talent is evident. Mohamed Sanu had 10 catches against the Ravens, got hurt, and barely did a thing after that. It’s clear Belichick likes him a lot, and not just because he went to Rutgers. Damiere Byrd is a nice sleeper, too. I like that pickup. The Patriots had talent last year. It’s just that they were injured more often than Hart Lee Dykes. This is a better group than people think, and hey, Jarrett Stidham doesn’t have the gravitas to be as tough on them as Brady was.

To actually answer the question, Kaleb, all of these things were factors in the offensive issues. But to me, the injuries were most damaging.

What does everyone else think? What was the biggest reason for the Patriots’ offensive struggles (or inefficacy) last season? I’ll hear you in the comments.


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