Free-agent addition Kendrick Bourne is off to a spectacular start in camp. He runs precise routes with an excellent feel for working between the numbers, has strong hands, and is getting open often.
Jakobi Meyers is still making plays, and even N’Keal Harry had his moments during a red-zone heavy opening week.
Most of these early camp reports are silenced by saying, “They haven’t even put on pads. Let’s not get their red jackets ready for the Patriots Hall of Fame just yet,” and there’s truth to that.
But let’s take a step back from the hyperbole for a second and consider another angle to these non-padded practices: we haven’t seen the Pats’ running game yet due to the lack of contact.
Despite an anemic passing attack, the Patriots ranked eighth in Football Outsiders’ rushing DVOA metric last season and project for another top-ten finish.
New England boasts one of the league’s biggest and most effective run-blocking offensive lines. Plus, two capable backs in Damien Harris and Sony Michel, and both tight ends can block.
Sprinkle in play-action, misdirection, a little James White on third down, and this offense is taking shape.
The biggest obstacle standing in the way of a complete turnaround offensively is quarterback play.
Reiterating that incumbent Cam Newton is his starter, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made that proclamation again on Saturday morning.
Newton’s timing within the offenses structure is improving, and those strides are leading to more accurate passes. He seems to have it down when everything works as designed, but things are still a little delayed once the defense spins the dial a bit.
The Pats’ quarterback spoke about his maturation in the offense, saying, “in the classroom or when we’re meeting, coach asks a question — boom, that’s where we’re supposed to go with the ball,” Newton said.