New England Patriots: 3 Ways Improved Running Game Will Benefit the Pats

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New England Patriots: 3 Ways Improved Running Game Will Benefit the Pats
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is a football hipster.

Like a Brooklynite in skinny jeans jamming to Wavves, Belichick sets the trends, then breaks them.  The 3-4 base defense is all the rage? Belichick switches to a 4-3.  Everyone else runs a spread offense? Belichick drafts two tight ends and plays them tight to the line.  

There's a brilliant method behind Belichick's madness. Defenses historically adjust to offenses, so as defensive sets evolve to try and slow new offensive schemes, Belichick stays ahead of the game and exploits them in all-new ways.

He's done it again this year, responding to a league that saw three QBs pass for 5,000 yards last year by featuring the run game more than ever.  

Defenses have to respect QB Tom Brady and his arsenal of skilled receivers and tight ends, so they line up in a nickel or dime defense (five or six defensive backs).  With smaller, quicker defenders on the field, the Pats gash the undersized personnel sets with an aggressive run game led by Stevan Ridley and undrafted rookie Brandon Bolden.

As a result, the Patriots are fifth in the league in rushing-yards-per-attempt despite facing three of the leagues' top-ten teams in rush defense (Baltimore, Arizona and Denver).    

The Patriots' reinvigorated rushing attack adds a crucial new dynamic to their offense. It's a big reason why they're first in the NFL in yards and points.

Let's take a look at how New England's run game will help the Patriots in their quest for another Super Bowl ring.

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