Recently, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said there’s a “20%-50% chance that we’re living in the matrix.” Are they sowing the seeds for their next great transfer of wealth scheme? Okay, I’ll take off my tinfoil hat. If we are living in a matrix, then it makes sense that we continue to mine the data and utilize statistical analysis for the fake game that we all love so much. But, sometimes there are observations made outside of the numbers that can focus our attention on a particularly useful piece of information…
Is it deja vu or history repeating itself? Aren’t they both the same thing except one sounds like you’re macking on a lady? Anyways, I got the case of the “deja vu’s” this past Sunday. On a side note, shouldn’t we pronounce all STDs in French? Gonorrhea is blennorragie in French. That sounds like something you would order at the pastry shop. Okay, back to my deja vu. It’s about Chris Hogan, wide receiver for the New England Patriots. Full disclosure: I’ve been high on him all off-season, drafted him everywhere I could, and listed him as my fantasy MVP (primarily due to the acquisition cost) this year. You could say I’m a little more than biased here. You can’t say I’m a homer, though, as I’m a Raiders fan and I’m still salty about the Tuck Rule game and despise the Patriots, yet still respect them because all they do is “Just Win, Baby.” Okay, rant over. Back to Hogan.
Hogan is 27 years old, 6’1″, and 220 pounds. He was a lacrosse player at Penn State before playing one year of football at Monmouth. He entered the NFL matrix after running a 4.47-second 40-yard dash and benching 225 pounds 28 times at his pro day. The San Francisco 49ers signed him as an undrafted free agent back in 2011. Hogan then bounced around on the practice squads of the Giants and Dolphins before finding a home in Buffalo, where he earned the nickname “7-Eleven” because he was always open. In March of 2016, the Patriots pilfered Hogan from a division rival when the Bills did not match the offer sheet of three years/$12 million.
Nine years earlier, the Patriots picked up another wide receiver from the division rival Miami Dolphins. Wes Welker played two seasons in Miami with middling success. In 2006 with the Dolphins, he caught 67 passes on 99 targets for 687 yards and one touchdown. His first year in New England, Welker caught 112 passes on 145 targets for 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns. Will history repeat itself?
Now, all off-season the hairs on my body (I’m Asian so there’s not much) were tingling and the goose bumps were making me look like some reptilian-freak watching Hogan catch touchdowns from Tom Brady in the preseason. It was the preseason though. How many preseason heroes have we seen come and go? I had to wait until the real games started before I could be sure that, Hogan was indeed, a glitch in the matrix.
Hogan caught three passes on four targets for 60 yards and a touchdown Sunday. The touchdown was on a blown coverage by the Cardinals, but maybe Hogan had Neo-esque abilities to Jedi mind trick the defenders. I kid, but what most intrigued me about Hogan in the off-season was his ability to play all the wide receiver positions. Due to his size and speed, he could line up outside. With his agility, he could go into the slot and do damage. Bill Belichick loves versatility and it showed in his usage against the Cardinals. Hogan was on the field for 77% of the offensive snaps and lined up all over the formation. That comes out to 55 plays. Julian Edelman, the Patriots #1 receiver, was on the field for 61 plays. He is, and will continue to be, an important cog in this offense.
Jimmy Garoppolo was poised and effective in hostile territory for his first start, so the next three games should be fine for the Patriots passing game. It’s what happens after, that gets a certain body part tingling. I love parsing through data and watching game tape, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m about Narrative Street as well. Players are human so things like contract year, revenge, etc. all have meaning for me. With that said, I’m expecting FU, Sweep the Leg Tom Brady when he returns. Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman, and all the other weapons will provide plenty of space for Hogan to operate. In addition, there should be plenty of opportunities and volume for all to be satisfied. Embrace when the matrix provides.
You can reach SON anytime on Twitter @Stan_Son.