Boston Sports Tonight

What we learned about Patriots' offense from Alex Van Pelt's comments

Will we see shades of the 2023 Browns in New England?

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Let's state the obvious: The New England Patriots' offense will look much different in 2024 than in 2023.

We're basing that statement on the fact that New England has overhauled its offensive coaching staff, replacing Bill O'Brien with new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and a host of new assistants. (Troy Brown is the only returning member of the staff who worked with the offense in 2023, and his role is TBD.) The Patriots likely will have a new starting quarterback as well, with the team reportedly expected to move on from Mac Jones this offseason.

So, what will that overhauled offense look like under Van Pelt? The veteran OC didn't get into specifics Wednesday at his introductory press conference, but admitted he plans to run an offense "similar" to what he operated as the Cleveland Browns' OC from 2020 to 2023.

"I’ve taken pieces of a lot of different offenses in my time and kind of melded those together for what’s best for us in that time," Van Pelt said, adding that he'll try to play to the strengths of a roster that's currently in flux entering free agency and the draft.

“There’s definitely some pieces of the puzzle that aren’t put in place yet,” Van Pelt said. "That’s our job. At the end of the day when we get everything established, see who we are, see who we have available to us, and then we’ll put that puzzle together with the pieces we have.

“I think you always have to play to the strengths of your players regardless of the position. So, we’ll put those guys, whoever they are, in the best position to be successful."

If New England's offense does resemble Cleveland's from 2023, that could be a good sign: The Browns ranked 10th in the NFL in scoring under Van Pelt (23.3 points per game) despite cycling through five starting quarterbacks. They leaned heavily on the running game, ranking fourth in the NFL in rush attempts and 12th in rushing yards.

"What I like about what Alex Van Pelt said there is, it'll basically be the Browns offense," the Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan said Wednesday on Boston Sports Tonight. "That was a top-10 scoring offense last year with five different quarterbacks. I don't know how many teams could do that.

"This is also an (offense) heavy on play-action. It's a cheat code and it's one that's been versatile. They led the league in gap runs last year, and when you go back three or four years ago, they were one the zone-heaviest teams in the league."

A scheme that leans on the run game and play-action might be a good fit for New England, especially if the team takes a quarterback with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Patriots have an above-average running back in Rhamondre Stevenson and the resources to acquire multiple offensive linemen via free agency and the draft. A more conservative offensive approach could aid a young QB's development and prevent a redux of Mac Jones' fall from grace in Foxboro.

The Patriots' full scheme can't be developed until more of their roster takes shape, but Callahan sees Van Pelt making an impact beyond the game plans to right the ship after two seasons of offensive dysfunction.

"I think they're counting on Van Pelt as a culture builder, a culture driver, a developer of quarterbacks," Callahan added. "It's not going to be X's and O's that put the Patriots over the top."

Check out the video above for more from Callahan on his initial impression of Van Pelt.

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