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Rush to Judgment: Patriots to be More Balanced on Offense


It’s easy to form a quick opinion about a player, a team, or a position after watching a game without letting the season play out, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do in the weekly postgame “Rush to Judgment” feature here on Musket Fire.

Over the first two games of the season, Patriots fans were wondering where the running  game was, despite Tom Brady throwing the ball with tremendous success. When the Patriots defense collapsed, surrendering a 21-point lead, and Tom Brady threw pick after pick in the Week 3 loss to Buffalo, the pondering of a running game turned to clamoring for the running game. Fans wanted to see the offense take time off the clock, keep the defense rested, take the pressure off of Tom Brady, and see more of the flashes of talent from rookie running back Stevan Ridley.

The Patriots utilized the running game more during last Sunday’s 31-19 win over the Oakland Raiders, and did so with success. As a team, the Pats rushed for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30 carries. The defense wasn’t on the filed as much and they held a lead while eating up clock in the second half. Could this be a sign of things to come?

Here is a breakdown on the offensive balance over the first four weeks of the season:

  • Week One, vs Miami: 22 rushes, 48 passes
  • Week Two, vs San Diego: 24 rushes, 40 passes
  • Week Three, vs Buffalo: 26 rushes, 45 passes
  • Week Four, vs Oakland: 30 rushes, 30 passes

Tom Brady, appearing on the WEEI radio show “Dennis & Callahan,” was digging the offensive balance:

"“I thought we did a great job balancing the game out, for the first time in four weeks. It was a big part of what we were trying to accomplish. We were able to run the ball inside, outside. All the different backs ran it and they ran it well. That’s how you become a great offense, you keep teams off balance. You run it when you need to run it, you throw it when you need to throw it. You’re able to do enough in both areas where you have to respect it, and we did a great job of that.”"

This re-discovered rushing attack can really pay dividends for the Pats moving forward. Brady’s deadly play-action will prosper and, probably most importantly, Bill Belichick can hide his porous defense. The Pats also may have discovered a new weapon in rookie Stevan Ridley. Ridley rushed for 97 yards on 10 carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run. He showed the ability to find the hole and hit it hard and with speed. I don’t want to rush to judgment on Stevan Ridley (yet), but he could be that back that the Patriots can lean on when defenses are stifling Brady.

I do think that what we saw Sunday is a sign of things to come. It probably won’t hit that perfect 30/30 balance, but I think Patriots fans should ready themselves to see a more run-friendly offense as the season continues.