By Eric Schmidt

In recent years, running the ball was seemingly an afterthought for the New England Patriots offense. Not this year, the Patriots are running the ball with great efficiency and it might be another sign of how well head coach Bill Belichick adapts his teams to various situations. Heading into this season, the Patriots appeared to be poised to hit the field featuring a lethal passing attack, instead after five weeks, the Patriots are averaging 165 yards per game on the ground. The CBS crew working the Patriots game on Sunday said that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly worked over the summer with New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. It seems Mr. Daniels learned a few things about running the football.

For fantasy football owners in recent years, Patriots running backs were some of the most frustrating players to own in fantasy circles. It seemed as if a different back would get hot each week, and it was frustrating trying to figure out which one, which week. Not this year, Stevan Ridley has established himself as the lead back for the Patriots and has rushed for 490 yards along with four scores in five weeks.Undrafted free agent Brandon Bolden has exploded onto the scene in recent weeks as well.

Remember all the questions surrounding the Patriots after the week two loss to the Arizona Cardinals? Remember the speculation that Wes Welker was being phased out of the Patriots offense? Look who is leading the Patriots team in receptions after week five? Wes Welker.

After New England’s second straight loss, talk of the Patriots demise grew. The team couldn’t get along without TE Aaron Hernandez. Yesterday, reports suggested that TE Rob Gronkowski has been playing with severe hip pain the last two weeks. Then the Patriots come out and score 83 points in the last two weeks, leading the league in points scored, while rushing for 498 yards in the last two games.The Patriots recorded a franchise record 35 first downs on Sunday.

Bill Belichick has done a masterful job with this offense. It seems as soon as you are ready to count this team out, he shifts gears and throws a different spin on things and catches you off guard. The Patriots are third in rushing offense and ninth in the passing game. Run defense has been solid, ranking eighth overall. Statistically speaking, the pass defense is ranked 30th, but many of the Patriots early games have been blowouts so with many teams playing from behind, those numbers are skewed.

You can make the case that the Patriots have also faced two poor run defenses in recent weeks and the team average is skewed in their favor, but you cannot dispute the overall effectiveness of the Patriots run offense this season. And just when teams figured all they had to scheme for on defense against the Patriots was figuring out how to defend the two-tight end set, a running game emerges.






Filed under: AFC East, New England Patriots, NFL

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