W2W4: New England Patriots vs New York Jets
By Hal Bent
When the Patriots Run the Ball:
The Patriots have all but eschewed the running game in 2015 other than seemingly setting up the play action pass. However, despite having major injuries on the offensive line since training camp, offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo has done an outstanding job integrating three rookies, a backup tackle, a practice squad tackle, and a third-year guard with just a handful of games started into one of the best units in the NFL.
Per FootballOutsiders.com, the New England offensive line leads the NFL in their Adjusted Line Yards advanced metric which measures running plays and success via the offensive line or the backs themselves. LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis are continuing to pile up yards when given the opportunity to run and both are 5.0 yards per rush.
Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91) celebrates after a sack against the Washington Redskins during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Of course, running against the Jets is a different story. Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, rookie Leonard Williams and Damon Harrison present a wall of size, power, strength and technique to try to run through. The Jets have allowed a league-second-best 82.6 yards rushing per game so far in 2015.
New York linebackers Demario Davis and David Harris are underrated run defenders and clean up and attack the football. With the New England passing attack, the ability to get Harris and Davis backpedaling or focusing on Rob Gronkowski can make room for the running game.
Do not expect the Patriots to line up with three tight ends and try to overpower the Jets, but do expect them to run whenever they feel they have the Jets defense locked in on the passing attack and pick up positive yards. The Patriots need to continue to pick up small chunks of yards in the running to complement the pass and set up play action. They should be able to do that on Sunday.
Next: When the Patriots Pass the Ball