Saturday, January 12, 2013
Will drops be a playoff issue for Patriots?
By James Walker
The New England Patriots have very few weaknesses on offense. But one of the glaring issues all season has been drops.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, New England was tied for fourth in the NFL with 37 drops this season. The Patriots and Green Bay Packers are the only teams in the top 10 in drops that are still alive in the playoffs.
A high volume of drops usually is not the characteristic of an offense that led the NFL in scoring and total yards. However, the Patriots run a lot of plays and also leave some on the field.
The biggest culprit has been New England Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker, who was second in the NFL with 11 drops. Wide eceiver Brandon Lloyd (seven drops) and tight ends Aaron Hernandez (six), and Rob Gronkowski (five) have added to the total.
Every play counts in the postseason. That is why New England cannot allow drops to be an issue in the playoffs if the team wants to make another title run. The Patriots learned that lesson the hard way last year when Welker's key drop in the Super Bowl contributed to a 21-17 loss to the New York Giants.
The Patriots will host the Houston Texans on Sunday in the divisional round. The winner will advance to the AFC Championship Game to play the Denver Broncos or Baltimore Ravens.