The offense has welcomed a rookie quarterback as well as several new qualifiers this offseason, making growing pains inevitable.
The Week 7 contest against the lowly Jets certainly helped revive the squad, as the Patriots scored on their six opportunities inside the New York 20-yard line. Two were touchdown passes, while the other four were on the ground.
During the season, the Patriots converted 54.8% of their trips to the red zone for a touchdown, which is tied for 23rd in the league. The distribution is fairly evenly distributed: nine scores on the ground, eight in passing.
Henry is New England’s leading receiver in the red zone, scoring his five touchdowns this season in that zone. Since Week 4, Henry has scored at least one target inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. He and teammate Jonnu Smith are the team’s two most targeted players in the red zone, each taking a 20.5% share.
Running back Damien Harris, meanwhile, is New England’s best forward inside the red zone, scoring five of his seven touchdowns this season in that zone. Harris received 56.3% of red zone transfers.
Last week against the Carolina Panthers, the Patriots converted on their first two trips to the red zone thanks to plays from their most popular contributors: a 3-yard run by Harris and a 7-yard catch by Henry. . On their third and final trip to the red zone, they settled for a placement on the 19-yard line after three consecutive incomplete passes.
“When you enter the red zone, the field narrows, obviously,” Henry said. “It’s tough. There’s not a lot of room to work. It’s definitely a tough part of the field to be successful. We have to be really detailed, and I feel like we’ve been able to ‘execute these details these past few weeks in a better way than we were previously at the start of the year.
Although performance has improved, there are still series where the offense spat.
The Week 8 contest against the Los Angeles Chargers started off strong with Harris hitting the ball from the 1-yard line. But that would be New England’s only red zone score. The Patriots hit the 1-yard line again to return the ball to the downs, then settled for two baskets after hitting the Chargers 6- and 12-yard lines.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has said he would like to recapture the streak where the Patriots threw the ball to the third and fourth yards from the one-yard line.
But the offense as a whole seems encouraged by their recent performance.
“We’re always going to keep improving and strive to keep getting more,” Henry said. “We all continue to grow as a group. Like I said, we were new this year in this offense. Every week we have game representatives, it’s huge.
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne echoed the sentiment.
“Our potential grows every time,” Bourne said. “I feel like we don’t have a cap. Everyone’s potential is high. Everyone becomes more comfortable each week, finds their role and improves in their role. Everyone is doing very well.
“The pieces come together. We get the results we want.
Of New England’s seven remaining opponents, three are in the top 10 in red zone defense. The Buffalo Bills are No. 1 in the league, allowing their opponents to score a touchdown on just 40.9% of their trips in the red zone. Tennessee ranks ninth (52.8%), while Miami ranks 10th (54.1%).
The Patriots hope they can continue their progress.
“The more we go, the better we have to improve,” Bourne said. “If we just keep playing well, we can build on that. “
Nicole Yang can be contacted at [email protected]