The Patriots have had some truly great offenses, but only really since the emergence of Brady and Belichick at the turn of the century. A couple of recent offensive units, in particular, go down as two of the greatest all-time.
What Each Unit Looked Like
2012 Patriots Offense
The 2012 Patriots offense may not have the absurd talent at wide receiver like the other offense we will mention, but it definitely made up for the fact in other areas. The blocking unit was sixth in the league in sacks allowed, with only a difference of seven sacks from first place. Sebastian Vollmer displayed his last truly great season at right tackle, never exactly reaching that same level again. On the other end, second-year left tackle Nate Solder produced the best season of his young career. Then there was the guard pairing of superstar Logan Mankins, and the always solid Dan Connolly, with center Ryan Wendell securing the middle in his best season as well.
This year’s passing game chose to mix things up, while staying true to the winning formula. They had a solid receiving running back, Danny Woodhead, and two star wide receivers, Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. But then they add on two top tier, young tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in a double tight end set. So you had a few guys that could be targeted deep, and another few that could dominate the short game.
But then to get to an even more insane level, McDaniels would mix up the passing game with an occasional rush from Stevan Ridley. Ridley was in his second year in the NFL, and broke out for 1,263 yards with 12 touchdowns. He helped the Patriots become the highest-scoring rushing team in the league, which is not something you usually say when talking about the Patriots. The team was high scoring with multiple weapons at their disposal, who almost never turned over the ball or received penalties. These trends seemingly make for an impactful offense, as the next offense is much of the same.
2007 Patriots Offense
The 2007 Patriots offense was packed full of talent. For starters, the offensive line was one of the best in the league. The unit allowed the fifth least sacks in the league, with no weak points when healthy. It was led by left tackle Matt Light, left guard Logan Mankins, and center Dan Koppen, all of which were Pro Bowlers. Right guard Steve Neal would’ve had a good shot at one as well if he didn’t only play eight games. Nick Kaczur was the worst of the bunch, but was still a five-year starter for New England at right tackle.
Then there was the historical passing game, led by MVP quarterback Tom Brady. While he didn’t have a superstar tight end, Ben Watson was a suitable red zone threat, a role he shared with receiver Jabar Gaffney. The highlight of the offense was the three-headed wide receiving monster of Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, and Randy Moss.
There’s not much that hasn’t been said about the record-breaking Brady-Moss connection, so I won’t waste time describing the pure genius they produced together. The passing game was supported by a solid running game lead by Laurence Maroney, who would’ve eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards if he has played all 16 games.
This team was even well-disciplined, with the eighth least penalties called against them. They also produced the least amount of turnovers in the league, while simultaneously having the most yards, first downs, passing touchdowns, and fifth most rushing touchdowns. This, combined with a top-five defense, all came together to become one of the greatest seasons of all time.
How Each Season Went
The 2012 Patriots remained pretty consistent throughout the season, but they started off slow. In their first six games the Patriots offense started off a bit slow, while the defense carried the load. They played four away games, losing two of them, and lost one of their two home games. But then the 3-3 Patriots found their stride, starting with a home overtime win against the Jets. They would go on to win the next six games, beating teams by at least six points, and blowing out others by as much as 38.
The Patriots would go on to win two of the next three games, concluding the season with a 28-0 blowout of the Dolphins at Gillette. Following a first-round bye, the Patriots faced a solid Texans team at home. The Pats dominated them 41-28 thanks to impressive performances from Brady, Vereen, Ridley, and Hernandez. But their season came to an unfortunate end at the hands of the Ravens. They couldn’t find the endzone and gave up too many turnovers. The Ravens, meanwhile, took advantage of most of their opportunities and would go on to win the Super Bowl.
The 2007 Patriots were insanely talented on both sides of the ball. Like 2012, they had the best offense in the league. But where they differ is that the 2007 Patriots had a top-five defense as well. Like with every team, there are occasional down games. The 2007 Patriots never saw both their offense and defense underperform at the same time, which certainly helped them go undefeated in the regular season.
The postseason saw relatively easy home wins against the Jaguars and Chargers. Both were pretty good teams as well. The Jags had a great offense led by running back Fred Taylor, and the Chargers had a top-five offense AND defense. Yet the Patriots took care of both rather comfortably, only showing slight defensive weakness in the matchup against the Jaguars. This set up the Pats in the Super Bowl against the Giants. Of course, we know what happens next. The offense AND defense fell apart, the first time it happened all year, thus ending the hunt for the perfect season.
The reason this article highlights these two specific offenses as opposed to any others is because they are two of the greatest offensive teams of all time. Both are top five all-time, second and fifth respectively in my opinion, and also came within five years of each other with the same franchise. Only one other franchise has two top 10 offenses of all time, but both were outside the top five.
The 2018 Chiefs had the best offense in recent memory, third all time, and the 2013 Broncos had the best ever. We have seen offenses getting better and better in recent years, thanks to rule changes surrounding both how the game is played and how the team is made. Players are getting better over time as well, from their training methods to better coaching. These two Patriots offenses encapsulate these changes perfectly, and will be remembered for years to come, despite not finishing the year off with a championship ring.