Last week, we saw the New England Patriots offense struggle consistently throughout the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Patriots came out with a game plan, but obviously it was not a very good one.
A big part of the Patriots’ win against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4 was due to the running game being successful, which set up the play-action fake against the Falcons’ defense. The Patriots rushed for 132 yards against the Falcons and averaged 4.3 yards per carry. This was a big reason why they were able to throw the ball downfield so well against a struggling Atlanta defense.
The thought was that the philosophy would be similar against the Bengals in Week 5. The Patriots, however seemed to think that the Bengals would be looking to run and went to the play-action as early as the first offensive snap of the game. This did not work out very well and Tom Brady had trouble throwing the ball all day.
The question is, why did they abandon the run so quickly?
The Patriots only rushed the ball 18 times as a team against the Bengals for 82 yards. That is a 4.6 average, which makes it even more baffling that they got away from it so quickly. LeGarrette Blount did fumble the ball in the first half, but with the success that he was having, it was not smart to bench him.
After that fumble, we watched the Patriots continue to try to throw the ball all over the Bengals defense, and they were not very successful at it. We also saw them give up easily on the running game when they were on the goal line trying to break through for their first touchdown of the game.
The Patriots will have to change that this week against the New Orleans Saints. Regardless if Stevan Ridley is healthy enough to play or not, the Pats need to stick to their plan to run the ball so that they will be able to throw the ball down field, which will be key to beating the undefeated Saints in their high-powered offense.
The Saints only blitz about 24 percent of the time, which ironically is the same amount that the Bengals blitzed against the Patriots. With a team that does not blitz too much, Brady will have some time, but if the Saints do not respect the Patriots’ ability to run the football, they will sit back and Brady could be in for another tough week offensively.