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In Focus: Charting the offensive opportunities for the Patriots’ skill position players through three weeks

09.29.11 at 6:36 pm ET
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Every week over the course of the 2011 NFL season, we’€™ll present a list of the Patriots’€™ ‘€œoffensive touches,’€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Three weeks into the season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2011, as well as a few more notes on the offense:

BenJarvus Green Ellis: 34 (33 carries, 1 reception) two touchdowns — three negative plays
Wes Welker: 32 (1 carry, 31 receptions) four touchdowns
Danny Woodhead: 30 (24 carries, 6 receptions) zero touchdowns
Rob Gronkowski: 17 (0 carries, 17 receptions), five touchdowns
Deion Branch: 15 (0 carries, 15 receptions), zero touchdowns
Aaron Hernandez: 14 (0 carries, 14 receptions), two touchdowns
Stevan Ridley: 10 (9 carries, 1 reception), zero touchdowns
Chad Ochocinco: 5 (0 carries, 5 receptions), zero touchdowns
Tom Brady: 4 (4 carries, 0 receptions) 11 passing touchdowns, zero rushing touchdowns — three negative plays (all sacks)
Julian Edelman: 4 (2 carries, 2 receptions) zero touchdowns — one negative play
Matthew Slater: 1 (0 carries, 1 reception) zero touchdowns
TOTAL: 166 touches (73 carries, 93 receptions) — seven negative plays

By position
Running back: 74 touches (66 carries, 8 receptions)
Tight end: 31 touches (0 carries, 31 receptions)
Wide receiver: 57 touches (3 carries, 54 receptions)
Other: 4 (4 carries, 0 receptions)

Some more offensive notes: For all the talk of Brady’s record start, it’s interesting to see the run/pass splits for the Patriots, who are closer to 50/50 through three games than many people probably realize. … When you consider his touches and his target percentage rate, it’s clear both Brady and the coaching staff have an extraordinary level of faith in Welker. … The Patriots have run 209 plays from scrimmage over the course of the first three games. According to official NFL gamebooks, New England has utilized the no-huddle for 54 snaps (27 plays in the no-huddle against the Dolphins, 15 against the Chargers and 12 against the Bills), or 26 percent. … All four of the negative plays (the non-sacks) have come in the running game — one of Edelman’s two runs when lined up as a running back was a negative play.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Chad Ochocinco, Danny Woodhead
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