Expectations for our running game?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by tonyto3690, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. tonyto3690

    tonyto3690 Banned

    Nov 18, 2012
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    I'm of the belief if we want to be successful this year we need to become run first. Yes, we have Brady, but that doesn't matter if we are forcing him to throw to Amendola and a pu pu plater of garbage. Furthermore, it's for Bradys long term benefit (this year and future) to become a run first team.

    IIRC we were statistically a top 5 running team, but that was ONLY because of Brady and the fact we were running twice as many plays as everyone else. Could this year be the year we finally can truly run it to win it? Can we lineup, say "we are going to run it on first and second down and you can't stop us"?

    We've become a finesse team and against all the physical defenses we played last year, our running game underachieved. We were not nearly as good at running the ball as the numbers would lead you to believe.
  2. Christian

    Christian Practice Squad Player

    Apr 12, 2013
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    I have high expectations for our running game. Why? Well, we've got a great offensive line, a great QB who is a threat to hurt you big time all over the field with his arm...but lastly and maybe most importantly...we have good running backs. I've got big hopes for Stevan Ridley. Liked him as a rookie, loved him last year. He's a big, physical running back who has some speed and some elusiveness. He ran for over 1000 last year with ease. But I want him to become a more complete back.

    We've also got Shane Vereen, who to me, looked like a stud when he had the opportunity. The mix of Ridley and Vereen should give us one of the best 1-2 punches in the league and gives us 2 RBs with different strengths. When you add in the depth with Blounte, Washington and Bolden...we're talking a real strength here. Just have to HOPE we stay healthy here...particularly Ridley and Vereen.

    That said, I don't think we need to be a run first team neccessarily. I do think that we've got to pound the ball though...similarly to last year. I think as long as Ridley and Vereen improve from last year, we'll be in great shape. But I also think that we're going to be a through the air type of team first. But we can't abandon the running game when it's not working...something we've done in the PLAYOFFS far too often in recent years. We should be one of the most balanced teams in the league.
  3. supafly

    supafly PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Sep 9, 2008
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    I think we saw pretty good balance last year, Tony. I get what you're saying about the running stats being inflated a bit due to running more actual plays with the hurry-up, but I think we also need to keep in mind that the hurry-up only produced an average of an extra 2.5 plays per quarter.

    In other words, I agree with you that it did inflate the stats a bit, but I don't think that it inflated them quite to the level that you're suggesting.

    Keep in mind that this offense has already been tailored to helping to prolong Brady's career by way of the quick pass. Brady led all NFL QB's last year in having the quickest release, which I believe was right around 2.4 secs on average. Belichick has continued to utilize our strengths by putting the ball in Brady's hands, while also showing nice balance in running the ball too.

    Last year's run balance was pretty even in comparison to some of the past years that have been closer to 58/42 pass, as I believe it was much closer to something in the 54/46 pass range--although I haven't seen the numbers or the stats in the past several months, so don't quote me on the specific ratio. I do know that it had a nicer balance than in some past yrs outside of 2010 with BJGE. I think that's about right where we need to have it, nothing much higher than a 55/45 pass ratio. After all, Brady is still the bread and butter of this offense, and even though it may appear that our WR corps is mud at the moment, I don't buy into that at all. We'll still be seeing a lot of quicker timing passes that act as glorified run plays, along with the dedication to actually running the ball via Ridley and co.

    I do agree that we need to be able to show a better rate of success when teams like the NYJ (2010) and BAL (2012) both dare us to run by lining up in nickel formations, yet we haven't shown enough of a decent committment of YPC ratio to overcome that. I think this year will show a little more in that regard. We've kept the offensive line together by retaining Vollmer, and added some more size and hopefully blocking talent in the form of TE's. One could even make a reasonable argument that the acquisition of Tebow may even provide more options for overcoming those weaknesses come January, who knows?
  4. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Sep 13, 2004
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    Realistic, complimentary...

    We have one of the best passing attacks in the league, so do not anticipate any changes..
  5. neuronet

    neuronet In the Starting Line-Up

    Jan 6, 2008
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    Interesting discussion. It comes down to situations, no? If they play small guys up front and try to load against our passing game, we run the ball. And vice-versa. If there are 9 guys with their hands on the ground on defense against us, we will throw the ball. Further, when their packages dictate run, we run.

    This is exactly what we did last year, and we almost got to the Super Bowl again. Our offense is not going to get all that much better. We ran well, threw the ball well, and main thing lacking was deep WR threat.

    It is our defense that has the greatest room for improvement.

    That said, I agree with the spirit of the post, but think we already implemented it last year, but our defense held us back (with obvious concerns about lack of a deep threat).
  6. DocHoliday

    DocHoliday In the Starting Line-Up

    Dec 28, 2010
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    I'm hoping we can do what Denver did with Elway in his later years.
  7. Snake Eyes

    Snake Eyes Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    Oct 29, 2007
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    We have a finesse passing attack that completely falls apart against physical defenses.
  8. JackBauer

    JackBauer Pro Bowl Player

    Mar 3, 2005
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    It's safe to say we don't know what kind of passing attack we have at this point.
  9. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

    Aug 13, 2005
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    A few recent articles on the topic:

    Checkdown: Why the running game still matters in today's NFL - NFL - Sporting News

    The 2012 Patriots provide a good model to follow in striking the right balance. With Tom Brady and his many diverse receivers, New England had the No. 4 passing offense, but that was complemented by the No. 7 rushing offense. The Patriots found their workhorse in Stevan Ridley, and only the Seahawks attempted more rushes.​

    patriots - Third chance in Patriots offense for Shane Vereen - WEEI | Christopher Price

    For the last decade-plus, the role of third-down back has been important to the success of Bill Belichick's offensive game plan. Manned by Kevin Faulk from roughly 2003 until his retirement last year, the job was assumed on a full-time basis last season by Danny Woodhead. Neither Faulk or Woodhead was all that excited about drawing attention to themselves -- instead, they were more about the work. As a result, they became absolutely key to the success of the Patriots’ offense for their skill set in three areas: blitz pickup, dependability in the passing game and overall durability. ...

    Ultimately, while other bigger names grabbed the headlines, both Faulk and Woodhead were able to distinguish themselves as excellent and dependable supporting players. They grew into their role in the New England offense, and became key (albeit unheralded) ingredients in its success. It remains to be seen whether or not Vereen will grow into the same dependable and consistent presence, but he’ll certainly get his chance to be next in line.​

    There's nothing to fear at running back - Extra Points - Boston.com

    But looking back speaks volumes to how balance to the offense can be perceived. For instance, in 2007, the rushing game was only 28 percent of the offense. When Tom Brady threw for a personal record 5,235 yards in 2011, the rushing attack was 25.7 percent of the offense. The team's current increase over a two-year period – 25.7 to 31.9 percent – shows the Patriots 2012 stats reflect more closely with its Super Bowl winning season in 2004, when the rushing game was 37 percent of the offense, although still far off the mark.

    Apparently for the Patriots, change comes in cycles.

    With the Patriots' steady shift back to a balanced attack, losing Woodhead comes at a time when the Patriots feel they have the parts to easily replace him. Shane Vereen, in his third year now in the league, worked out as the team's third down running back last season before injuries took him out of competition with Woodhead. And newly signed running back Leon Washington has experience catching the ball out of the backfield and being a change-of-pace runner.

    "This game, we're always losing somebody," said Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears, who has coached for 36 years, including 21 in the NFL and the last 15 with the Patriots. "That's not the issue. It's the next guy. You're gonna lose people, you're gonna change. That's part of this business. But it's the next guy's opportunity to step up and make something happen. We got some guys in here [who] have to step up and make something happen. That's what it's all about. We're gonna find out who is going to do that."

    The hope is that Vereen makes the leap, both in terms of health and in consistency. He's missed 14 of 32 possible regular season games. After a fine division championship performance against the Houston Texas, catching two touchdowns and running for another, he had a forgettable outing in the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens, where he recorded 38 yards from scrimmage and a drop.​
  10. BradyFTW!

    BradyFTW! PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Oct 20, 2007
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    I agree that I'd like to see the run-pass ratio tipped a bit further in the ground game's favor, simply because we have the personnel to really punish teams there. I believe that Ridley and Vereen can combine for ~1,800-2,000 yards at a solid YPC clip if the team decides to really feature them.

    Will make it harder to defend against the pass, will open up space for Amendola, Hernandez, and Gronk, and will make Dobson and whoever else is going downfield much more dangerous. I'm also of the belief that this type of offense will fare better in the playoffs. Best of all, teams simply won't be able to prioritize stopping the run over stopping the pass, because as soon as they do... well, we have Brady.

    In an ideal world, the Pats would have better downfield threats to really make defenses pick their poison, but they can still make things difficult by putting three dual run-receive threats on the field in Ridley, Vereen and Hernandez. Wouldn't surprise me to see a whole lot of trick/misdirection plays.
  11. NEPettyOfficer72

    NEPettyOfficer72 On the Game Day Roster

    Aug 16, 2011
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    The expectations should be very high, and also a key ingredient for success this season.

    - The Offensive line is very good at run blocking and run blocking schemes.

    - TE's Jake Ballard and Michael "Hoo-man"ananuwi are very good blocking tightends also, and two big strong extra bodies up front.

    - An explosive passing game will always open things up for the run

    - Stevan Ridley emerged as one of the top backs in the AFC, and a rising star in the NFL achieving over 1,200 yards last season. He is also an above average receiver

    - Shane Vereen showed that he has exceptional hands and route running as an effective receiver out of the backfield, and a pivotal all purpose back on third downs. He also displayed that he is a very talented and sound runner out of the backfield, easily playing the role of a Kevin Faulk or Danny Woodhead, and has a little bit more power then the two.

    - Brandon Bolden can run with both burst, speed and power combination when healthy and is a decent receiver. Heard they had some packages put together this season just for him. He can be a good punch and Ridley's style.

    - LeGarrett Blount before Doug Martin took over in Tampa Bay, was a human highlight reel for his punishing runs, combination of speed, down-hill style that also hurdled over defenders. Looked to be one of the best young backs in the league. Looks to revive that reputation here and run angry.

    (I think he is going to keep Ridley, Vereen, Bolden and Blount to punish teams with different variations of styles and rhythms in the no huddle.. then unleash either Tebow or Blount on the goaline, that would be brutal to defend)

    - Leon Washington - legendary for his returns and elusiveness and a nice option on third downs. Can make a few people miss to keep the chains moving.

    And additionally don't forget Aaron Hernandez ;)
  12. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

    Aug 13, 2005
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    Vereen's snaps doubled after week 8 last year.

    Why Vereen is intriguing Patriot in '13 - New England Patriots Blog - espnBoston

    Patriots were third (best run-blocking OL in 2012), with a "good blocking rate" of 50.7 percent. The entire starting group from 2012 returns this year and should be a strength for the Patriots offense again in 2013.

    Thinking beyond just the statistical metrics, Vereen is an intriguing player for the Patriots offense, a unit that has undergone some turnover this offseason. He flashed at times during his second season, particularly as a pass-catcher with exceptional run-after-catch ability. Perhaps the biggest question entering the 2013 season is how the Patriots' passing attack will adapt with Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd gone and Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez coming back from offseason surgeries.

    Vereen could be in line for more carries this season, but he also could prove to be a valuable receiving weapon for the Patriots because of his route-running and catching skills and the mismatch he would create against linebackers. He had just eight catches in 2012, but that number should increase this season.

    If the Patriots are forced to play without any of their projected top weapons for any period of time to start the regular season (Gronkowski's availability for the season opener is still not known at this time), the offensive staff could get creative and play with unconventional personnel groups (Bill Barnwell of Grantland recently wrote about the Patriots operating in single-receiver sets).

    We often assess offseasons based on players added and players lost, sometimes overlooking the development (or regression) of players already on the roster. Vereen fits the category of a player who could take a step forward in 2013 and become a bigger part of the Patriots offense.​

    Bill Barnwell on the teams that still have holes in their rosters - Grantland

    Who says the Patriots need to start two wideouts or use two wideouts on the majority of their offensive snaps? If anyone's willing to be proactive and shift the style of their offense in midstream, it's New England. And after their success running the ball with Stevan Ridley last year, it's possible that the Patriots could move to an offense that uses two running backs and two tight ends as its base set, with Amendola as the only "wideout," but with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez serving as wideout-like weapons downfield. They're also very deep at tight end, with the likes of Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, and Michael Hoomanawanui all possible contributors if they make the roster. As always with the Patriots and their offensive wrinkles, stay tuned.​
  13. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

    Aug 13, 2005
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    More on the snap counts at RB/FB last year:

    FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | 2012 NFL SNAP COUNTS
    Patriots by the numbers: 2012 snap counts - Extra Points - Boston.com

    44% - Stevan Ridley - 549 offensive snaps
    34% - Danny Woodhead - 417 offensive snaps
    13% - Shane Vereen - 161 offensive snaps
    8% -- Brandon Bolden - 99 offensive snaps
    1% -- Lex Hilliard - 9 offensive snaps

    Week-by-week snaps at RB/FB
    Wk 1 at Ten (67): Ridley 40, Woodhead 14, Bolden 6, Hilliard 4, Connolly 2
    Wk 2 vs Ariz (82): Ridley 45, Woodhead 37, Hilliard 4
    Wk 3 at Balt (82): Woodhead 51, Ridley 26, Bolden 5
    Wk 4 at Buf (77): Ridley 34, Bolden 26, Woodhead 10, Vereen 8, Connolly 1
    Wk 5 vs Den (94): Ridley 45, Bolden 22, Woodhead 20, Vereen 6, Connolly 2
    Wk 6 at Sea (87): Ridley 35, Woodhead 29, Bolden 13, 4, Vereen 0
    Wk 7 vs NYJ (80): Ridley 32, Woodhead 31, Vereen 17, Hoomanawanui
    Wk 8 vs StL (69): Ridley 30, Woodhead 20, Vereen 19, Hoomanawanui
    Wk 10 vs Buf (72): Ridley 41, Woodhead 16, Vereen 15
    Wk 11 vs Ind (61): Ridley 32, Vereen 19, Woodhead 11
    Wk 12 at Jets (69): Ridley 42, Vereen 16, Woodhead 12
    Wk 13 at Mia (79): Ridley 38, Woodhead 27, Vereen 14, Hoomanawanui
    Wk 14 vs Hou (73): Ridley 31, Vereen 24, Woodhead 16, Bolden 3
    Wk 15 vs SF (96): Woodhead 76, Ridley 19, Vereen 2
    Wk 16 at Jax (73): Ridley 35, Woodhead 24, Bolden 12, Vereen 3
    Wk 17 vs Mia (80): Ridley 32, Woodhead 28, Vereen 15, Bolden 6
    Playoffs vs Hous (66): Vereen 38, Ridley 27, Woodhead 1
    AFCCG vs Bal (83): Ridley 35, Woodhead 31, Vereen 17

    - Vereen was out in weeks 1-3 with a foot injury
    - Bolden was out in weeks 7-8 with a knee injury
    - Bolden was suspended in weeks 10-13
    - Woodhead out after 1st play vs Houston in playoffs with thumb injury

    Final 2011 RB/FB snap percentages:
    34.4% - BenJarvus Green-Ellis
    33.0% - Danny Woodhead
    14.0% - Stevan Ridley
    6.5% -- Kevin Faulk
    1.9% -- Shane Vereen
    1.3% -- Lousaka Polite
    1.0% -- Dane Fletcher
    0.8% -- Donald Thomas
    0.3% -- Ryan Wendell
    0.1% -- Dan Connolly

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