Establish at least the threat of a respectable run game
The New England ground game has gone from bad to worse this season in a hurry. Once considered only mediocre compared to the other 31 teams in the NFL, the Patriots have fallen all the way down the pecking order of rushing offenses to where they are now: in the bottom-10 of the entire league.
It’s not a great place to be for any team, but it’s especially embarrassing for a team as good as New England. Only the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs rank in the bottom-10 of the league in rushing offense while still sporting a winning record this season – the other eight teams that keep them company are a combined 15-51 this year.
Kansas City might be able to offset their lack of a potent rushing attack with a healthy Patrick Mahomes, considering the wealth of talent they have around him in terms of pass-catchers and point-scorers. New England isn’t quite as lucky – Tom Brady and his supporting cast of wideouts, tight ends, and running backs are certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it’s a stretch to put them collectively on the same level as the Chiefs this season.
Of course, the big difference between the Pats and the Chiefs is on defense, where the scales tilt dramatically the other direction in favor of New England.
Nevertheless, the Patriots are going to need a stronger run game this season if they hope to make it all the way to Miami to play in their fourth straight Super Bowl this February. Even if Brady and the passing attack kicks into a higher gear down the stretch, there are going to be multiple instances in the future where the Pats will need to run the ball effectively… especially as the weather gets worse during the winter.
It all starts with improved run-blocking on the part of the offensive line, which is something that only Coach Scar and his troops can be held responsible for. If they can get back to their fundamentals and recreate some of the wide-open rush lanes they regularly blew open last year, then New England’s talented stable of backs should be able to do the rest… whether that’s Sony Michel – who has admittedly been one of the team’s biggest disappointments this year – or someone else.