Setting the edge against the Carolina Panthers

Photo Courtesy of Ben Margot
It's Monday and the Patriots didn't play yesterday, so you have nothing to small talk about with that awkward guy you always see on your lunch break at work. Life can't get much worse than this, but don't fear because the bye week is over and the Patriots are now headed straight for a Monday night clash next week with the Carolina Panthers.

Last week I wrote an article about Star Lotulelei and his ability to stuff running lanes in the middle of the field thus far this season. So today I wanted to examine the San Francisco 49er's ability to run the ball off the edge against Carolina in their matchup yesterday afternoon. If Lotulelei keeps up his stellar play, the Patriots will need to run the ball well on the edges, and the 49ers are a good team to use to forecast the Pat's potential success in doing so. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston sums up his early impressions from the game quite nicely.

So how well did the 49ers run the ball on Sunday? The answer is not very well at all. San Francisco managed to put 105 rushing yards on the stat sheet but Pro Football Focus has 22 of those yards coming on Colin Kaepernick scrambles, and we all know Tom Brady isn't going to do that. That leaves San Fran with a mere 83 yards on designed running plays. For the purposes of examining the outside running game I'll consider outside runs anything behind the offensive tackle or the tight end. Pro Football Focus has the 49ers gaining 6 yards on 2 attempts to the right and 29 yards on 7 attempts to the left. Not the most earth shattering statistics.

 The Patriots are going to have to figure out a way to run the ball well against Carolina. Whether its coming up with a blocking scheme to neutralize Lotulelei in the middle, or running away from him altogether to the outside, remains to be seen. But if the Pats cant move the football on the ground, it's going to be tough to win on the road Monday Night.

-Ryan Cereola