In order to alleviate the pressure from Tom Brady—who will be 35 in August—the Patriots' game plan must place a higher priority on running the ball.
The key to a dangerous offense is a nearly equal dose of runs and passes. Although, the Patriots haven't committed to that in year's past. And, the recent rise of passing has been seen across the league.
According to Pat Kirwan, the author of Take Your Eye Off The Ball, the NFL has transitioned into a pass-heavy league. In fact, in 2010, only four teams called more run plays than pass plays. Clearly, the Patriots weren't one of those franchises.
During the 2011 season, Brady threw 611 passes—a career high. Granted, New England's wide receiver position is fully stocked and should make for entertaining football this fall, but a well balanced offense is the way to keep a defense guessing.
By letting the Patriots' rushers pick up the slack, the chains will keep moving and the defense won't lay back in coverage expecting Brady to throw dink-and-dunk completions down the field.
If anything, the notable wide receiver acquisitions of Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth should assist in the efficiency of the ground game. Therefore, Coach Belichick and staff must take advantage of the resources at their disposal.
Controlling the ball is what controls the game. The Patriots failed to do just that against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI when leading 17-15 with four minutes left. A second-and-11 incompletion from Brady to Wes Welker reverberated among Pats fans. Yet, that occurred because the running backs failed to get the necessary yardage to kill the clock.
The revitalized running back group will try to change that problem in 2012, but it must be given a shot to succeed first.