One of the primary critiques from both media members and fans following the Patriots third loss of the season in Green Bay was that they got away from a running attack that had been working well at points throughout the game. LeGarrette Blount in particular was ripping off 5-10 yard runs with relative ease. Yet, Josh McDaniels opted to go with a more pass heavy attack, with mixed results.

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In San Diego, the offense stagnated even worse than it did at Lambeau. Once again, the Blount approach looked promising early, particularly on the opening drive when the big back steamrolled the team down to San Diego's one yard line, setting the offense up at the one yard line. In the 14 plays leading up to this down, Blount handled the ball 8 times and averaged nearly six yards per carry.

Yet, on second and third down from the one, Tom Brady dropped back to pass. First was an attempted swing pass to James Develin which was deflected, followed by a sack, resulting in a disappointing field goal. Meanwhile, Patriots fans everywhere pulled their hair out, frustrated with the decision to move away from a run-heavy approach that had worked so well to that point.

The Patriots red zone play-calling can be puzzling at times (Note: endzone lob to Nate Solder last season in Cincy). For Josh McDaniels, it seems to boil down to a couple plays they felt good about simply not panning out. The team's offensive coordinator also admitted some level of second guessing in regards to that particular stalled drive (Quote from ProvidenceJournal.com):

We always go into the game with an idea of what we want to do on the goal line first, … and we had discussed that prior to the game,” McDaniels said. “We made our call, and unfortunately (a pass) got tipped there at the line of scrimmage. In hindsight, you always do that as a play-caller. I’d love to see what would have happened had we just called something different and tried to go ahead and get it in. They’re good down there on the goal line defensively, but you always want to end up with points, and since we didn’t, you always have an opportunity to second-guess yourself. Running it there obviously is a definite option for us. Who knows what would’ve happened had we done that? But you definitely look back and wonder what might have happened had you done that.

Head Coach Bill Belichick also offered his thoughts on the matter yesterday, adding that the play included Rob Gronkowski as a secondary target (Quote from CSNNE.com):

"Well we had an option on that pass play with Develin and [Rob] Gronkowski," Belichick said of the second-down play. "That's usually a pretty good option for us. Those runs set up the passes. But ball got tipped and we just weren't able to convert on third down there."

Say what you want about the playcall, in terms of execution, the failed third down play can be pinned almost squarely on tackle Nate Solder, who was trampled by Mark Ingram. That would be a sign of things to come for Solder and the entire offensive line.

It will be interesting to see how things transpire with the run/pass balance in the team's remaining three games. It was this exact stretch last season when the team really honed their power running approach built around Blount, who exploded on the home stretch in terms of productivity.

Tom Brady and the offense is at its best when the run game is functioning well as it sets up the deadly play action game. It would be nice to see them work to establish that again heading into the playoffs. But with McDaniels at the helm- who knows.


Liam Cunningham 12/09/2014 09:25:00 PM Edit

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