Brady: Patriots don't have a set identity on offense


Brady: Patriots don't have a set identity on offense

FOXBORO -- Seven weeks into the season, and the Patriots are still dealing with a bit of an identity crisis on offense.

At points, they have focused on exploiting the advantages they have with their tight ends. They blew away the Broncos with their no-huddle. They ran all over the Bills. They threw like crazy in their loss to the Seahawks. And in the period of a couple of weeks early in the season, Wes Welker went from an afterthought to one of the league's most productive receivers.

Against the Jets it was a bit of a mix, and the Patriots got mixed results. They scored just one touchdown after the first quarter and watched a 10-point lead vanish as they punted on five of six possessions from the second quarter to the fourth.

They came through with two clutch drives to finish their AFC East rivals, though: At the end of the fourth quarter, Brady went 4-of-5 passing for 54 yards to set up Stephen Gostkowski's game-tying field goal. In overtime, they drove 53-yards for what proved to be the game-winning 48-yard field goal from Gostkowski.

Asked to describe his offense's identity after beating the Jets 26-23 in overtime on Sunday, Brady paused.

"It's tough to say," he said. "It's tough to say."

No team has scored more points, gained more yards or run more plays from scrimmage than the Patriots in the last two months, and their diversity helps make their offense so prolific. But as their losses this season have shown, there hasn't been one thing -- one set, one style -- that they've been able to turn to consistently in critical situations to put teams away.

"I dont know," Brady said when asked if he was concerned about his team's unclear identity.

"I'm sure if you asked teams and they said 'Yes,' it would probably change over the next nine weeks anyway. I think you continue to go do the things you're doing well. Youd love to figure those things out in spring camps, but it really doesn't play that way. You have some teams that you play and situations that you face and players that are healthy or not healthy, and schemes that you run. And you boil it down to what you're good at. It's only October."

It's early yet, and there's still time to figure things out. But no matter the identity of the offense, whatever shape it takes, Brady will be at its core and ultimately will be the deciding factor in its success. That much is clear, and the Jets were reminded of that fact on Sunday.

"He'll probably go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game," Rex Ryan said of Brady. "We're not the first team he's ever done that against. You have to give him credit, obviously. They did a good job, got a lot of weapons, some of their guys got open. Were we at our best? Maybe not, I wish we had a few things back, but you have to give them credit. They made the plays at the end, and in particular Brady."

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Caserio: Brady's age has nothing to do with draft approach

Caserio: Brady's age has nothing to do with draft approach

FOXBORO -- The Patriots took four players in this year's draft. Four. That's the smallest draft class in team history

Instead, as Bill Belichick highlighted on Friday night, they spent multiple picks in this year's draft to pick up proven commodities. 

* Their first and third-rounders were sent to New Orleans in exchange for receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth. 

* Their second-rounder ended up in Carolina, bringing defensive end Kony Ealy and a third to New England. 

* They lost a fourth-rounder to Deflategate and sent another away in order to pry tight end Dwayne Allen and a sixth-rounder from the Colts. 

* They sent a fifth-rounder to Buffalo as compensation for signing restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee. 

* Before last season the Patriots sent a fifth to Cleveland for linebacker Barkevious Mingo. 

* Before last season's trade deadline they sent a sixth-round pick to Detroit for Kyle Van Noy and a seventh-rounder. 

"Obviously, we’ve been watching a lot of picks go by," Belichick said on Friday, "but I feel like overall our opportunity in this draft started a couple of months ago. The four players that we acquired already are also part of the draft process. Hopefully we’ve been able to improve our team, become more competitive. That’s the ultimate goal."

Even on the last day of the draft, the Patriots didn't stop trading picks for veterans when they sent No. 183 overall to Kansas City in exchange for tight end James O'Shaughnessy

But when Nick Caserio was asked on Saturday if his team's approach to the draft -- taking more established players instead of gambling on draft picks -- had anything to do with Tom Brady's age, he shot down that theory.

“That has zero to do with it,” Caserio said. “I would say really the team-building process is very fluid. How it is going to go? There’s no template. There is no book with how it is going to go. 

"There’s a lot of really good players that were in this draft that have been drafted and will help their respective teams. We understand that and understand we felt the same way. There were enough players up there that we felt good about. We take the resources that we have and we try and make the best decision for our team."

In reality, the approach of taking such a small number of draftees is probably more a reflection of the current roster than the quarterback's age. It's loaded, and it seems like there will be relatively few opportunities for rookies to make the Week 1 roster.