Preparing for two weeks to defend the Patriots’ offense in the Super Bowl is akin to staying up late every night studying for a history test only to have the teacher drop a French exam under your tired eyes.

Now that everybody’s healthy, how can an opposing defensive coordinator guess what the Patriots will emphasize?

Trends? Sure. When Sony Michel and James Develin are on the field together, that usually means a Michel run. Wait, he’s not in the game, replaced by James White. Look out for White coming out of the backfield and try to take that away. No, not that way. This way, remember? OK, better. Wait, Rex Burkhead is back there now and he’ll run off tackle, a la Michel, and slip out of the backfield, a la White.

Halftime adjustments will be made, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll have much relevance to the second half.

Michel led the Pats against the Chiefs with 19 first-half touches and Burkhead led with 12 touches the rest of the way. Oh well, at least the defense doesn’t have to account for fullback James Develin, in there to block. Oh wait, there he goes catching a 9-yard pass on a wheel route.

And if you think you’ve done all the right things to contain Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, that doesn’t mean Tom Brady won’t feature them at winning time.

If Gronk’s retiring, he sure looks determined to exit with a throwback splash that could include one last football drilling the turf of the end zone. Lull yourself into believing he has become primarily a punishing blocker and he’ll run up 79 yards on six catches, his numbers against the Chiefs.

Adjust to this and the Patriots will give you that.

Adjust to that and new personnel comes onto the field with formations and men in motion you didn’t see on film.

The book on Brady says to bring heat up the middle because if it comes from the edge he’ll step forward and engage football’s quickest trigger. The Chargers are noted for their pass-rush duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Armed with Chris Jones, the Chiefs were well-equipped to drop Brady.

His bodyguards, also playing at peak performance and conditioning, didn’t let that happen. Neither team sacked Brady.

What is the Patriots’ offensive identity? Whatever is in the game they’re playing. No, actually, it’s whatever is needed in that moment within the game. When Brady starts tearing it up, counter with more defensive backs and watch the Patriots immediately return to running the ball.

Things didn’t go as smoothly for the offense for much of the season. Suspensions and injuries prevented personnel continuity.

Josh Gordon entered with the season in progress and exited via an indefinite suspension after playing 11 games. The time Brady invested with Gordon during and after practices and forcing him the ball in games was wasted. Edelman missed the first four games, suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Gronkowski missed three games with injuries, Michel two and most of a third. Burkhead was limited to eight games.

Gordon performed pretty well, but the offense has done better since his departure, perhaps because Brady relies more now on players with longer histories in the Patriots’ system and because the QB’s knee has healed.

It all has fallen into place again.

The clip showing up on TV often of Brady, yelling to teammates from his sideline seat, “They can’t stop us,” words that no doubt raised everybody’s confidence level, summed up where the Patriots’ offense has landed after such a bumpy ride.


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