The New England Patriots started the game against the Miami Dolphins with the running attack, but they abandoned it and just let quarterback Tom Brady throw the ball everywhere by the end of the night. When all was said and done, the Patriots ran the ball a mere 10 times for 25 yards.
Balance is typically how you win in the NFL. As great as Brady is, he needs someone to run it. Abandoning that completely makes it hard to win, as evidenced by the upset loss to Miami.
Coach Bill Belichick has now explained what he was thinking.
“Well, the biggest problem with the running game is the production,” Belichick said, per Zack Cox of NESN. “I mean, nobody around here minds calling running plays if we’re gaining yardage on them, but when we’re not gaining yardage it makes it hard to call. Combine that with the score and our inability to convert on third down, it’s kind of a spiral that you don’t want to be in and we were in it last night. We couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t convert on third down, so don’t have another set of downs to try to get it going again to make enough positive plays in the passing game to avoid third down, or in some cases to get it close enough to have a reasonable chance to convert on third down. So, some of the negative plays in the running game are like sacks. They come up with second-and-14, second-and-13.”
In short, the running game was getting stuffed, so they had to give up. When they’re losing yards and losing on the scoreboard, they have to let Brady at least try.
The problem, Belichick said, was often the execution.
“On several of those plays we had everybody blocked on paper but didn’t execute the blocks so then we had a negative play,” he noted. “It wasn’t like we had a guy that we didn’t have accounted for. We accounted for him but something happened and we weren’t able to get him, so we ended up with a negative play and now we’re in long yardage, so it was a lot of factors that went into it. Bottom line was we didn’t have a good night offensively in really any area and we were probably fortunate to have the points that we had with a couple of big plays and gained a lot of yards in a few plays. That was probably the best thing that we did, but our overall consistency in the running game and in the passing game wasn’t at a winning level. That’s obvious.”
One-dimensional teams don’t win in the playoffs, so the Patriots running game needs to get back on track this month.