A Small Change in Strategy to Help the Patriots

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Maybe this is my Patriot hubris showing, but it feels like Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots started this trend.  Winning the coin toss and then deferring until the second half.  At a time, that decision seemed inconceivable.  Why wouldn't you want to start with the ball and try to grab an early lead?  Well, opposing teams soon found out why.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Week after week, we saw Tom Brady and the Patriots offense mount a scoring drive towards the end of the first half, only to follow it up with a scoring drive to open the second half.  Whether it was back to back touchdowns, or a touchdown and field goal, New England was seizing momentum and control of games with this 10 or 14 point swing.  The old double score soon became a kiss of death for Patriots opponents.  

Then, it felt like a light bulb went off around the rest of the league.  "Hey, these guys might be onto something here."  Winning the toss and deferring soon became the norm, and it was a surprise when a team did the opposite.  I can still remember some of the rare occasions where the Patriots opted to take the ball first. Everybody began hunting for that double score, but nobody could do it quite like the Patriots.

Now, allow me to channel my inner Rick Pitino and say, "Tom Brady's not walking through that door.  Rob Gronkowski's not walking through that door."  It's time for a change, and this Sunday is a perfect opportunity to roll it out.  Moving forward, I think it's in New England's best interest to start the game with the ball whenever they can.  Win the coin toss, take the ball and establish the run early.

On paper, this team has a subpar at best passing attack.  The past few weeks on the field, this team has looked worse than subpar.  As if it can't get any worse, this Sunday they will be without Julian Edelman and likely without N'Keal Harry. (Insert joke that they have been without Edelman and Harry all year).  To make matters worse, the forecast in Buffalo is about as ugly as the Bills fan base.  Rain, winds that could gust up to 40mph.  Not exactly ideal passing conditions; especially for a team that has struggled mightily to pass the ball.

The strength of this offense, yes they have one, is their rushing attack.  It's time to lean on that.  This offense is at its best in a run first mode.  Just look at their two wins this year against Miami and Vegas.  The team ran for 217 yards against Miami and 250 against Vegas.  They won the time of possession battle by almost 10 minutes in each contest.

They established a ground game, which set up Newton to make completions when he had to.  That's the route they need to moving forward.  They need to get out in front of teams and play with a lead. 

As we've seen these past two weeks, this team is not built to come back from larger deficits.  Their passing attack is just not up to par.  The way they are going to beat teams is by establishing the run early, controlling the game and clock.  There's no better place to start than on the first possession of the game.

I'll say it again.  Win the coin toss, take the ball and establish the run early.


Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34

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Boston Sports Syndicate: A Small Change in Strategy to Help the Patriots
A Small Change in Strategy to Help the Patriots
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