By: Christine Roy
When you think of the Patriots offense, do you think of an established run game?
No? Good. Neither do I.
The Pats average just over 110 rushing yards per game. That’s worse than their three potential playoff opponents. The Broncos, for one, are first in the league, averaging 164 yards per game. The Steelers and Bengals have also had more success on the ground than New England this season.
For the Patriots, the top three rushers are who you would expect. The Law Firm, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, leads the pack with 667 yards. He’s followed by Stevan Ridley (87 carries for 441 yards) and Danny Woodhead (77 carries for 351 yards). And sitting at number four is Tom Brady with 109 rushing yards this season. Only two other times in his career has Brady passed the 100 yard mark. That right there should say a lot about the Patriots running game, or lack there of. They’ve definitely been inconsistent this season.
It seems as though the team struggles to get running. They have significantly more yards of offense in the second quarter (2136 total gross yards) than they do in the first (1225 total gross yards). A perfect example was their 21 point, first quarter deficit against Buffalo on Sunday. They closed the opening quarter with 5 total NET yards after running just 8 plays.
Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski are not secret weapons but they’re the keys to the Patriots offense. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
That’s hard to believe considering the Patriots have two players in the top ten for receiving yards. Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, ranked second and sixth respectively, will hopefully continue to carry this team in the playoffs. Stick with what you know and Brady knows who he can count on. Chad Ochocinco and Tiquan Underwood have gotten their shots but nothing beats ol’ reliable.
Aaron Hernandez has also stepped into the “threat” realm. By this I mean, if a team decides to double up Welker or Gronk, they’ve still got Hernandez to worry about. I’m also curious to see if Deion Branch will be back in action with an extra weeks rest. In his last three games he only has three receptions, all of which came against the Dolphins. He has an uncanny connection with Brady and I’d like to see those two light it up this postseason.
Every team in the NFL knows how to defend the Patriots and yet they keep winning. They should stick with what works and challenge other team’s secondaries to keep pace with Welker and tackle Gronkowski.
Should they do this, I think most fans would probably feel a little better about their chances heading into the playoffs in the coming weeks.