NEW ORLEANS - No Patriots player spent more time operating out of the slot than Chris Hogan in the season-opening loss to Kansas City. Of Hogan’s 73 snaps, 29 came out of that coveted spot in the offense, yet the production was virtually nonexistent.
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Hogan caught one pass for a measly eight yards. Contrast that with Danny Amendola, who couldn’t make it through the third quarter. The ultra-quick Amendola ended up with four catches on five targets working out of the slot. So much for Hogan making up for Julian Edelman’s absence, at least for one week.
I asked Hogan about the difference between lining up in the slot as a primary target versus last season, when the Bills castoff spent a fraction of that time functioning in that role.
“I’m comfortable there, for sure, and confident there as well,” he told me. “The biggest difference for me is some of the reads you have to make at the line of scrimmage and once you release. I have to see what Tom [Brady] sees.”
That’s a critical piece for any offensive player in this system: thinking and see what Brady does, or else...
“Tom demands a lot. He’s our leader,” said Hogan, quickly adding, “but I expect as much out of myself as anyone else could. I know I have to be better. If I’m better, it helps everyone.”
Hogan was like the rest of his teammates, disappointed with the way the opener went. He was also not willing to offer excuses, even when I offered one up, saying the offense did put up 27 points through three quarters.
“It wasn’t good enough,” he said matter-of-factly. “We believe we are better than that and believe we will play better than that. But it does no good to talk about it. We just have to do it.”
Bill Belichick wouldn’t offer much on Hogan’s work in the opener, but it would be surprising to see the Pats turn away from that so quickly. Besides, a few members of the offense indicated some surprise at Chiefs corner Marcus Peters drawing Hogan so much. This Sunday’s opponent, the Saints, don’t have a player of Peters' pedigree. Not yet at least.
“We all have a lot of work to do after the first game,” said Belichick, seemingly speaking for all facets of his team’s play, not the slot position in particular. “So, I don’t think any of us are where we want to be or need to be.”
Based on the way the Saints played defense in their opener, there’s a real opportunity for the Pats' offense to improve its efficiency and - in turn - its effectiveness. Expect Hogan to play a big part in that.