It was yet another game in which the Patriots were able to cruise from start to finish, as they racked up their 13th win and moved one step closer to acquiring the #1 seed in the AFC. A 14-2 record and the #1 seed appears very likely, which is an incredible achievement for any team, yet the accomplishment probably won’t elicit more than a casual shrug of approval out of the majority of Patriot Nation, along with some snide remark about how they really should have been 15-1. We have been blessed as Patriot fans to witness the greatest run of any team in the history of the NFL, yet it is still important to appreciate just how they are able to reach the level of play we have seen this year. With that being said, let’s take a look back at the (masterful) 2016 offseason and how it managed to rebuild and retool the Patriots, setting them up for the success they are currently achieving.
Belichick the GM was nearly perfect on his moves this offseason, with his first acquisition being the signing of Chris Hogan away from the Buffalo Bills on a front-loaded 3 year, 12 million dollar offer sheet that the Bills were simply unable to match. Hogan, who never had more than 450 yards in this first three seasons in the NFL, has racked up 653 yards on 34 catches to go along with a league-leading 19.2 yards per catch in 2016. Hogan has brought a viable, consistent deep threat to a Patriot offense that had lacked one since the day Randy Moss last put on a Patriot uniform. That is not to say Hogan in anyway resembles Moss and his capabilities, but what Hogan is able to do for the offense by stretching the field and not allowing the opposing secondary to key on the underneath crossing routes fills a role the Patriots have not had since the Moss days.