Are The Patriots Running The Ball Too Often?
Are the Patriots running the ball too much? No way.
While watching the Patriots run the football isn’t something fans are used to see over the last five years, it’s a breath of fresh air for an offense that was getting a little too pass-happy.
A balanced offensive attack will help set up the play-action, take a little of the pressure off Tom Brady (not that he couldn’t handle it), and will let the Patriots control the clock when they want/need to. This is all aided by the fact that Stevan Ridley looks to be the real deal, and can break off a 15-yard run when presented with the opportunity (and not dance around like other past running backs did).
While it’s never a bad thing to have Brady throw the ball 30-40 times a game, it was getting a little ridiculous to see those attempts hit the 50s on a regular basis. The Patriots offense became much too one-dimensional, and opponents were catching on. Tossing in a little rush attack broadens their options, and gives Brady a little breather as well.
These are the only teams which have rushed more than the Patriots: Houston (best running back in the NFL, mediocre QB), Seattle (rookie QB), Washington (rookie QB who likes to run), Philadelphia (QB who runs).
What do all those teams lack? They lack Tom Brady. Teams that have Tom Brady taking snaps should be passing offenses. You could argue that such an offense hasn't really worked out in terms of winning Super Bowls in recent years, but it got them there twice, which is more than most other teams can say.
In Brady's last four seasons (2008 excluded), the Patriots scored an average of 512 points per season, twice leading the league. This year, they're on pace for 416 points, which isn't terrible, but it should be better. And the only way it improves is if they let Tom Brady throw the football.
Some people like to hearken back to the days of Corey Dillon, but Dillon was a veteran who had already proven he could withstand the pounding that comes with being a featured back in the NFL. Stevan Ridley looks great, but it's not yet known if he can handle the load of 20 carries a week. And if he goes down, what happens to your balanced offense?
Essentially, you've got this "closing window" with Brady that everyone always talks about. If you only have a year or two of an elite Brady left, why are you going to spend it ordering him to hand the ball to a running back?