There may not be a correct answer to the challenge of defending the New England Patriots against the defense this season.
In the final of the preseason on Thursday, the Patriots Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas started as the starting trio. These are two 6-foot-3, 225-pound outdoor receivers and one of the NFL's best slot men inside. You can not double cover both impressive outsides, and high quality cornerbacks over 1.20 m do not grow exactly on trees. For defense coordinators, designing a plan is an unenviable task.
We got a glimpse of how the Patriots would use Gordon, Thomas, and Edelman together on Thursday night.
Thomas was mostly an X-receiver throughout his career. When he was in his heyday in Denver, he was the X, Eric Decker was the Z and Wes Welker was the slot.
However, this is not the first time Thomas has played the second banana roll. After Thomas was exchanged for the Texans last season, DeAndre Hopkins X remained and Thomas took over the Z until he was injured.
Nevertheless, it should theoretically require some adjustments until Thomas plays a relatively new role in another offense. However, it did not seem like Thursday night.
Thomas hit 7 of 8 goals for 87 yards with two touchdowns. The only incomplete thing that got in his way was when the rookie QB Jarrett Stidham was hit while throwing and the Giants picked him up.
Of the seven catches of Thomas, six came when he was lined up as a Z receiver. He caught six passes for 84 yards with a touchdown from the Z-roll. He caught a 3-yard touchdown pass in five slot snapshots.
– Gordon actually looked more rusty in his first game action in 2019 than Thomas. He was attacked six times and caught two passes for 30 yards. He also drew a defensive passport penalty.
Gordon has captured two passes on four targets for 30 meters with the DPI from the X-roll. He has no target from the slot and caught a target from the Z position.
He also had issues with controversial catches and dropped a pass. In the meantime, Thomas caught a pass while taking cover, using a little skill and raising his hands at the last minute to get his 35-yard touchdown pass.
On his second touchdown, the game turned into a drill, and Thomas found a pocket in the back left corner of the end zone.
– The Patriots stacked Gordon and Thomas one after another in the first quarter. The first result was a 7-yard pickup from Thomas. The second was incompletely thrown to Gordon.
Do not be surprised that the Patriots use some of the ablation routes from this formation.
– It is not guaranteed that Edelman, Gordon, and Thomas will be the Patriots in Week 1 or later, starting broad receivers. Phillip Dorsett, N & # 39; Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers are also in the mix. But everyone has seen what Gordon did last season on the Patriots offensive when he had 720 yards in eleven games. And Thomas certainly looked better in limited play than expected, even though it was against backup cornerbacks.
Harry delivers a goal as big as Gordon and Thomas. While all three players can play in the slot, Edelman, who in the past has split his snaps evenly between the outer and inner roles, is likely to play a bigger role in the slot this season.
thumbnail photo about Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports images