5 things New England Patriots must improve on

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Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

3. Offensive play calling – RUN MORE

Poor refereeing against Denver and a rash of injuries in both games account in part for the Patriots’ losing streak. But the main reason the Pats have lost dropped two straight is poor play calling on offense, primarily a puzzling reluctance to run the ball with LeGarrette Blount.

Against the Eagles, Tom Brady threw the ball an unbelievable 56 times. That’s just not a winning formula for the Pats. For some reason, the Patriots decided to keep chucking the ball downfield to mediocre deep threats Brandon LaFell and Keshawn Martin when they were in the lead instead of handing it off to Blount.

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The fact of the matter is the Patriots, in their current form, are just not a deep passing team. Forcing deep throws accounted for one of Brady’s two interceptions, halting a promising drive in the second half.

As for the first interception, Malcolm Jenkins’ full field pick-six, that was a result of the Patriots’ inability to pick up half a yard via the ground game. Why Blount didn’t make an appearance on 1st and goal when the game was knotted up at 14 apiece is beyond me; instead, 195-pounder James White took the handoff and got beaten back four yards, and then Brady forced a throw into double coverage the next play.

The Patriots haven’t committed to the ground game since the win over Washington—a full month ago. Since then, Blount, White and Brandon Bolden have combined for an average of 68 yards per game. That’s just not going to cut it in the month of December, let alone the playoffs. The Pats need to run the ball more if they plan on giving their 38-year-old quarterback a fifth ring.

Next: 2. Protecting Tom Brady