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Super Bowl LIII has exposed Patriots room for improvements outside the receiver



  ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 03: Los Angeles Rams's Marcus Peters defends a pass against Chris Hogan of the New England Patriots in the first half of the Super Bowl LIII at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – FEBRUARY 03: Marcus Peters of Los Angeles Rams defends a pass against Chris Hogan of the New England Patriots in the first half of the Super Bowl LIII on Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots are golden in space. Now they need to get some treasures to pair with Julian Edelman outdoors.

Thanks to a Herculean effort from Edelman and a legendary defensive performance, the Patriots overcame a lack of production on the perimeter to win Super Bowl LIII over Los Angeles Rams. Eventually, they took on an issue that continued throughout the 201

8 season. Chris Hogan (63 snaps) was empty on six targets, while Phillip Dorsett (26 snaps) was not targeted at all. Cordarrelle Patterson got his only two goals for 14 yards.

They certainly proved that they could win all this without even available production outside the numbers. But in fact, they reached 2019 in a better place than their left ones in the Mercedez-Benz Stadium.

Behind the back, all the Patriots needed were a player to become a consistent, live weapon of Hogan, Dorsett, or Patterson, with recent additions such as Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, and Eric Decker. They also have hope for the 2016 fourth-round pick Malcolm Mitchell and went out to gain momentum in midseason addition Josh Gordon. It's incredible (or is it?) How hard it worked.

The first three were made only in flashes. The defeats by Mitchell, Britt, and Matthews have ended in the midst of various injuries. Decker retires before the season. Gordon got his latest suspension, and while he was a returning candidate as a restricted independent agent he did nothing to change his understanding as incredible.

The season is probably the strongest argument it is ever necessary for the Patriots to live outside, a star wideout that can make at a high level every week.

But they still do not need that person.

They need the next Mitchell – from his rookie season. The next Brandon LaFell. If you want to be more ambitious, the next Deion Branch. Someone who can build a quick relationship with Tom Brady and trusts to catch the football on routes, comebacks, back-shoulders, and curls in the intermediate area. There was no need to go back to the "deep threat" of a bunny hole – unless Bill Belichick wanted to avoid the revolving door he had at this time. But either way, they better get into the camp with a more promising group that they had last summer.

The 2018 period has been proved, as amazing as ever, consistent and reliable outside the targets is not easy to find for the system. But Pats does not need to devote a huge resource to that goal.

At Hogan, Dorsett, and Patterson are all set to hit unlimited free agencies, it is likely that the Patriots will be returned more than one of them. The previous two have proven themselves to be solid complementary pieces, but have struggled to develop continuously in more prominent roles against the top cornerbacks. Patterson, as he has for his entire career, works especially when the ball is pulled from the backfield instead of going out for a pass. The rest of the receiver on the roster or IR at the end of the season has more guys space to hide and build the back of Edelman.

Another reset is unavoidable. And one of the top priority of the Patriots is to make sure that this reset is better than the last one. WIRE – SEPTEMBER 09: Green Bay Packers Randall Cobb continues a touchdown after getting the pass from Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter of a game against the Chicago Bears at the Lambeau Field . WIRE – SEPTEMBER 09: The Green Bay Packers Randall Cobb ran for a touchdown after getting the pass from Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter of a game against Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. (Photo by Stacy Revere / Getty Images)

Possible options in the open market are not exciting in the paper. But then again, not LaFell when he first signed it. No one predicted that Mitchell would be an important piece of return for the Super Bowl Sun as a rookie. It is important to look for the features that these players can do for Pats out of numbers, and do not focus on age or lack of pedigree.

Randall Cobb is a weapon that looks great on a uniform Patriots earlier in his career. Now 29 years old, Cobb has no such an explosion that he once did and has a problem with staying healthy. But now is the time to get him if Pats want to get a great deal. And if any group can figure out a way to revive Cobb's career and use him in different ways, it's Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and Brady.

– The fast John Brown built a reputation as a pure downfield burner, and to make sure he could run the deep post. But he is underrated as a route-runner for what Brady wants, and may have a chance to take it to the next level with the best quarterback of his career throwing him the ball.

– Kansas City's Chris Conley may provide Patriots a boost in the red zone, a place slipped in 2018 due to a drop-off in production for Rob Gronkowski. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Conley is a huge target with a huge potential against one-on-one coverage – if he can hold the ball. He dropped issues with Chiefs, but if he could solve that problem in New England, perhaps the scenery change was good to him. And he can improve the percentage of Pats & red zone TD (62.9 percent), falling 12th in the NFL in 2018, their first time outside the top-10 since 2009.

– Speaking of a big target, 6-foot-4 Devin Funchess proved himself to be a dangerous one-on-one receiver with his catch radius and ability to high-point the ball. He started raw as a route-runner but showed improvement. And he is not afraid to run on cut-cut or hitches in the middle, either. The emergence of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel at Carolina make Funchess a likely departure, and potentially a great value to Foxborough.

Donte Moncrief possesses physical tools, but never completely put everything together. He did not help defeat his defeat in his last three seasons with the Colts, then took Blake Bortles in his first year in Jacksonville. If the Patriots get him at a reasonable price, perhaps New England is where he realizes the potential he has flashed in his speed and athleticism.

Old friends and their clones

5 February 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick celebrates broad receiver Danny Amendola (80) after defeating Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl Sun at NRG Stadium. The Patriots won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the need to improve outdoors, there is no lack of options inside that is set to hit the market and at the end of the day where Brady delights his butter. So you can say about Golden Tate Adam Humphries Jamison Crowder and Cole Beasley in the coming weeks.

It's just a wonder if Pats also look at the bolster of their roster in the slot as well as in the perimeter. After all, part of what helped make men like LaFell and Mitchell so effective was having both Edelman and Danny Amendola in the field to draw attention to the center of the field.

Speaking of Amendola, he hopes to be released after a year at the Dolphins and will be a logical option to return to the Patriots. It may be dependent only if Belichick forgets Amendola's unusual controversial comments on ESPN after his departure a year ago.

Meanwhile, Matthews signed up with the Eagles and played 14 games for them. He earned only 20 passes for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns, but at least he saw the field. At this point should not be a shock if he returns cheap, and gets a second chance to do so by training camp unscathed.

Growing the next crop

August 9, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; The wide-ranging New England Patriots receiver Braxton Berrios (14) returns the punt while in the second half against the Washington Redskins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the Patriots can also look at the draft to add to the receiver. They made last year the sixth round slot receiver Braxton Berrios from Miami, who still has the opportunity to build on it. Despite his unfortunate history of knee injuries, Mitchell has been a good weapon for Brady by half-point of his rookie season.

The draft is covered deeper in the coming weeks, but the main focus of this story is the free market agent. The Patriots have only one spot spot receiver for the next 53-man roster of September, and others are not all rookies.

Speculating with Antonio Brown and dreaming of Odell Beckham Jr or Julio Jones when it comes to New England is an exciting discussion to have. These are not just surprising. Probably the Patriots have taken another handful of shots in search of a cost-effective outside of the receiver sticks group. The approach failed in awe-inspiring end to the Rams, but the Super Bowl was not likely to spin a radical change in the way their business was.

This year, the same challenge goes back to the table. As he did on many other spots on this roster this past season, it's time for Belichick to get the receiver right.

Matt Dolloff is a writer and digital manufacturer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any insight expressed does not necessarily reflect 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a tip, question, or news comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @ mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].


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