Jeff Howe's column in the Boston Herald this morning points out something very interesting about the Dolphins.

They may be ranked seventh in the NFL against the run, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

The Dolphins were excellent against the run in their first five games, and that’s why their place in the season-long pecking order is so high. They allowed 61.4 rushing yards per game in that span, which was the best mark in the NFL.

But lately, their front seven has been mighty generous, surrendering an average of 126.2 rushing yards in their last six games, which is the 11th most in that stretch.

That's a good sign for a Patriots offense that still ranks sixth in the league in rushing and has been held under 100 yards total only three times this season.

It might also be a good sign for Stevan Ridley to get back to some dominating performances. He hasn't reached 100 yards himself since an October 28th game against the St. Louis Rams.

Still, criticizing the Dolphins run defense isn't fair unless you also look at the Patriots run defense. They haven't tailed off as much as the Dolphins, but they've still had their share of problems.

A lot of that has been disguised by the fact that the Patriots have completely blown out two of the last three teams they'v faced, but it's still been an issue.

The Herald is all over this issue too,

The Patriots allowed seven runs of at least 10 yards to the Bills, four to the Colts and four to the Jets. They never allowed more than three such runs in any of their first eight games, when they allowed a total of 14 runs of at least 10 yards, which was tied for the league lead. The 15 runs of 10-plus yards over the last three games are the fifth most in the NFL during that span.

To anyone that's watched these games, that much has been apparent. If the Patriots defense doesn't have their run defense, what do they have besides turnovers? Their stoutness against the run was something Patriots fans could at least hang their hat on in the early part of the season. When C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson were running over the Patriots, I chocked it up to perhaps be an anomaly. Then, backs like Vick Ballard, Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell started gassing the Patriots on the ground. That was when you knew there was an issue.

It's something that should urgently be fixed. While Patriots fans are content to celebrate the two blowouts and pretend nothing's wrong with the team, the coaches don't have that luxury.

Even though their poor run defense didn't effect the outcome of the last two games, that's not to say it won't in the team's crucial five games down the stretch. Over the rest of the season they will face Reggie Bush (twice), Arian Foster, Frank Gore and maybe even Maurice Jones-Drew.

The Patriots issues, according to How, are with edge containment and also falling for draw plays. These are issues that will need to be corrected, hopefully starting at 1 pm today.

Michael Saver 12/02/2012 11:27:00 AM Edit

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