By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
As the Patriots offensive coordinator from 2000 to 2004, Charlie Weis designed the blueprint of the offense New England still runs to this day. While individual elements may change from year-to-year as the NFL develops, the two keys have always been the tight ends and the slot receiver. This past season, following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots roster had an unprecedented absence of reliability at the tight end position. Monday, Weis told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak and Bertrand that Gronk's retirement may have been the leading factor behind the Patriots' sluggish season on the offensive side of the ball.
“I thought that people were underestimating the loss of Gronkowski to start off with,” Weis said when asked about the personnel in this year’s offense. He emphasized it’s not just about the talent lost by the absence of Gronkowski, but the reliability.
“Not only did they lose Gronkowski, who is as good as anybody else, if not better than any other tight end in the league, they also lost the other security blanket. Because with two guys to go to, meaning him and 11 [Julian Edelman], you didn’t have one security blanket, you always had two security blankets ... So the tight end and the slot receiver, what are you going to do, double the tight end and slot receiver on every down? You can’t.”
Weis also shared his thoughts on the Patriots' current group of wide receivers, who were highly criticized throughout the season.
“I watched a lot of [N’Keal] Harry. When I started watching the kid from NC State [Jakobi Meyers] in preseason tearing it up, I went back and watched more of him too. Dorsett obviously too. Really all those guys were complementary guys, and at different levels of their careers and of different abilities. So they had one legit guy [Edelman], and really James White was their other legit receiver. That was it.”
According to Weis, the Patriots' offensive struggles this year came down to not having Tom Brady’s ultimate problem solver in the lineup.
“I think the loss of Gronkowski was bigger than anyone ever figured it was going to be. We’re so used to the Patriots being able to hide or cover up a problem, mask a problem, but I think that was a tough one to overcome.”
You can listen to Weis' full conversation with Zolak & Bertrand here:
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth.