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Are Patriots ahead of schedule heading into preseason opener?

by nytime
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Are Patriots ahead of schedule heading into preseason opener? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Unlike last year, the New England Patriots offense appears to be in a good place heading into the team’s preseason opener.

With Bill O’Brien taking over as offensive coordinator, the Patriots already look more competent on that side of the ball than they did with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge leading the charge. In fact, backup quarterback Bailey Zappe says the offense install is “way ahead” of schedule heading into Thursday’s preseason opener vs. the Houston Texans.

“The install has been doing good. We’re way ahead of where we thought we were going to be at,” Zappe said on Monday. “We’re really deep into the red-zone, third-down, open-field stuff. So I think we’ve just got to keep stacking days and continue improving on the plays that we have been right now. I’m sure there’s more install to be done, but I would say we’re about 80 percent.”

Our Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry have witnessed the offense’s improvement firsthand in Foxboro. On a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, they discussed the positive signs they’ve seen from the unit so far.

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“Even though there’s a bunch of backups and second-tier players, you’re not seeing false starts, you’re not seeing substitution problems, you’re not seeing delays in getting plays in,” Curran said. “It’s just a crisp and efficient operation whereas last year, confusion reigned.”

Perry is encouraged by the variety of plays O’Brien’s group has worked on through the first 12 practices.

“The most outstanding part of camp offensively for the Patriots is that you do see a little bit of everything,” Perry said. “They’re in the red zone and they’re working on their rub routes. Or they’re in the red zone and they’re working on their rollout series. And they’re in the middle of the field and they’re working on their screen game. Or they’re working on their power runs or their zone runs, which they are doing. …

“There is a variety that is very easy for us to see and it feels like they’re going to be able to pick from whatever bundle they need to on a week-to-week basis to be that gameplan offense that they’ve been for a long, long time.”

Also in this episode:

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