Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why I Think the Patriots Cut Stallworth and Gaffney

When the Patriots piled their plate high and deep with WRs, I thought Donte Stallworth was a long shot to make the team but figured Jabar Gaffney would likely be on the roster. Gaffney has worked well with Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels in the past, and he did well in 2011, finishing with 947 receiving yards for the Redskins.

I figured the WR depth chart would be Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch, and Donte Stallworth. I wasn't shocked when Stallworth got cut, but parting ways with Gaffney surprised me.

Until I thought of the offensive line.

If there were a Moneyball 2 about football, I think the statistician Jonah Hill played would be obsessed with one number: Throwing Time. The amount of time a QB has to throw the football.

And judging from the preseason games, Tom Brady won't have that much time to throw. It won't be like 2007 with Stallworth, Gaffney, and of course Randy Moss. When Brady had an eternity to find a receiver, and those receivers had an eternity to go downfield.

Tom Brady simply won't have the time necessary for vertical receivers like Gaffney and Stallworth to go downfield. He'll need shifty mid-range and underneath receivers like Welker, Branch, and the tight-ends. Guys who can get open quickly, and whose diversity present matchup problems for defenses. Brady can spot those problems pre-snap and get rid of the ball before the pressure envelops him.

Carrying WRs who primarily go deep is a waste of roster spots. There won't be enough Throwing Time to consistently go deep. Plus with the tight-ends, how often will more than three WRs be on the field for the Pats? Stallworth and Gaffney were unnecessary parts of the Patriots' offensive machine.

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