Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Patriots Sign Donte Stallworth

The Pats added to their arsenal of offensive weaponry by signing Donte Stallworth to a 1 year deal. Stallworth only caught 22 passes for 209 yards last season and has not been very productive since his one year DUI/manslaughter ban in 2009. Even before that he hasn't been productive since he left the Patriots after the 2007 season.

Give me a second while I spin this discouraging fact into something extremely pro-Patriot...



So maybe having Tom Brady as a quarterback and Josh McDaniels as a coordinator could rejuvenate Stallworth's career. He caught 46 passes in '07 for 697 yards and 3 TDs. That's good considering he was Brady's #3 option. Welker and Moss combined to catch 210 passes for 2,668 yards (1.5 miles) and 31 touchdowns that year. In 2012, Stallworth will again have to compete for receptions with Welker, and now Gronkowski and Hernandez. But he has shown an ability to produce in such a situation.

And he will not struggle with McDaniels' playbook, which he absorbed well in 2007.

Stallworth provides a vertical threat. And along with Lloyd, the Patriots now have a diverse and problematic set of receivers. Last year, Patriots WRs not named Welker caught 74 total passes. 51 of those were Branch's. Even with Welker, WRs caught 196 of 402 team receptions. Less than half (48.8%). That's because Gronk and Hernandez caught 169 total passes. Which is a testament to their abilities, but it also means the Patriots' offense wasn't multidimensional. It was all Welker, Gronkowski, and Hernandez.

Brady will have more options in 2012. We saw in the Super Bowl what can happen when Gronkowski gets taken out of the game. With this stable of receivers, the Pats are hoping to resolve that vulnerability. None of these new receivers are thoroughbreds, but there are enough of them to keep a defense off balance.

And while the Patriots haven't done much to address their Swiss Cheese defense, they've improved their strongest area, and haven't spent much to do it. They've decided to perfect their strength, rather then spending a lot to try to raise their weakness to mediocrity.

It's sort of like a movie studio adding a cheap former star to a guaranteed blockbuster hit instead of spending tens of millions to put big stars in a crappy movie that will likely be a box office bomb.

I think it's a sound strategy. And in other breaking news, I once again agree with what Bill Belichick does.

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