Where do the roads lead for the Patriots racing game?
The Patriots certainly made a statement last week with their masterful fourth quarter drive to take out the Steelers.
It was a 13-game march that killed the final six minutes of the game and preserved a three-point victory.
Between power runs and a few mixed outside zone runs, the Patriots fought their way to a victory. It was the best of the floor and the pound and showed what the team does well.
But does that mean the Patriots are going to be a team that relies more on football management? Will they be dominant in a passing league?
Mac Jones will always throw the ball a lot. And, it will be supported by this racing game. But that doesn’t mean the racing game won’t support on occasion.
They will run if the opponent tells them to run first, and they will run if the game situation requires it. Against the Ravens, look for the Patriots to focus more on an air attack.
Count on Jones to take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary, which collapsed against the Dolphins last week. Based on the Ravens’ performance so far, it makes sense for him to air it out. The Ravens have given up the most passing yards in the NFL after the first two games.
They’ll provide some balance and try to start the run game against a Ravens front that has proven vulnerable around the edges. They will run to complete the passing game. And, they will run if they have a lead in the fourth quarter.
That’s why it was such a boost to see the Patriots finish a game last week without putting the football upside down.
CBS analyst Charles Davis, who called the game from Pittsburgh, was impressed with the effort.
“If you look around the league, there were quite a few teams on Sunday that didn’t know how to close games. But New England did it,” Davis said. hammer locks on their games ended up getting beaten in. I think with the Patriots it’s part of their DNA, understanding the football in situation and knowing how to shut down at the end.
Having an effective running game helps in many ways. This sets up the passing game, relieves Jones and ensures that he doesn’t have to throw the ball 40-50 times a week.
And, if they put in more game action, simulating running, that should help the receivers open up.
“The running game is vital, especially for them,” Davis said. “You’re not going to go three wide and have teams terrified of what you throw at them with their receivers. Teams respect their receivers. But I don’t think anyone is afraid of their receivers.
“So you really don’t want Mac to run it like 50 times. It doesn’t work for them. It’s not who they are. And that’s not who he is as a quarterback.
With good blocking up front, Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson can run for days. And with Harris and Stevenson confidently moving the chains, it buys the passing game time to get on track with a new caller, new terminology and, apparently, a new offense. This allows Jones and his receivers to sort out the issues.
But in the long run, the passing game must reign. It should be the main staple of offense, along with the running game shotgun.
Against the Dolphins, the Patriots were forced to throw more because they were behind every quarter. Against the Steelers, the Pats ran more than against the Fins — the latter drive largely to blame — but Jones still had more pass attempts overall.
The Pats are therefore not returning to the Stone Age. They are not reinventing the wheel. As always, they’ll hit the fastball – David Andrews’ term for the running game – whenever the need arises.
Speaking to recently retired James White, the former Patriots third back thinks teams can start out as a run team first, but ultimately they’ll have to run and pass to win.
“The best teams are able to do both,” White said.
White didn’t seem too worried about how things would play out offensively for the Patriots.
“I think they’re a pretty solid attack already,” he said. “You don’t need 400 yards to be a good offense. Score in time, capitalize on turnovers, score in the red zone and win in situational football. That’s what it’s all about and I think they’re extremely good at it.
As for the latter, they couldn’t do much better than what they accomplished last week. They were able to run the football, when everyone on the Steelers sideline knew they were going to run the football. It was situational football at its best.
NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger called the clock-killing player “Masterpiece Theater.”
During his media briefing on Thursday, Stevenson said the ride was a good confidence booster for the group.
He also said he felt like he and Harris, along with the rest of the backs in the play, had only scratched the surface of what they were capable of.
“I feel like it’s safe to say,” Stevenson said. “I feel like me, Damien and everyone in the running room have a lot more to show. It’s the start of the season. I think we’re just going to pound the pavement and we’re going to have these games, we’re going to string them together and produce.
White high on his substitutes
Ty Montgomery had pretty much taken over White’s role as third back, but was placed on injured reserve ahead of the Steelers game.
Last week, Harris and Stevenson were on the court at different times, filling that role.
“Both guys can do it. I just think whoever’s on the court is going to stay there,” White said. “They’ve both improved tremendously since their rookie seasons in terms of being better players overall, not just being there on first and second downs. They have improved when it comes to learning protections, blocking guys and being able to catch the ball.
White, who is now a radio analyst for Sports USA, noted that Jones is looking for both Harris and Stevenson in a pinch, and they converted by turning short passes into first downs. They also did well with blitz pickup.
On Stevenson: “He only scratches the surface. He is still learning. But I think he can become a special and special player.
Don’t panic in Cincinnati
During his press conference on Wednesday, Joe Burrow did his best to get Bengals fans off the ledge.
The Bengals quarterback says no one needs to be in panic mode given the team’s 0-2 start, losing to the Steelers and Cowboys. He is confident that the team, losing Super Bowl LVI to the Rams, will bounce back.
“Everyone is frustrated, but we’re not panicking,” Burrow said. “We are two games away. We have 15 games left. Let’s all take a deep breath and relax. We are well. We don’t worry about that. »
The Bengals pretty much revamped their entire offensive line after Burrow was sacked an NFL-high 51 times last season. So far, the changes haven’t helped, as the franchise quarterback has been sacked a league-high 13 times in the first two games.
Former Patriots tight end Devin Asiasi, who was claimed off waivers by the Bengals, is set to make his team debut against the New York Jets.
Tight ends coach James Casey, who loved Asiasi in the 2020 draft, is confident the former UCLA star will do well.
“He’s one of those well-rounded guys that I like. He can run routes and catch as well as block. You can put him in the game and he can do more than one thing,” Casey said, via Bengals.com. “He’s smart and he cares, which is the most important thing. I think he’s going to surprise some people with his speed and movement.
Asiasi, meanwhile, was impressed with Burrow and the general culture in the Bengals locker room.
“Good boy. Confident kid. All these guys are rallying around him, so that’s a really good thing,” Asiasi said of Burrow. “What I really like about these guys and this team is that they all seem to care about each other, help each other, in the tight room, the special teams room, whatever.”
Vrabel supports staff
The Titans are another surprise 0-2 team. There was an outcry from team observers that offensive coordinator Todd Downing was fired.
The offense only scored three touchdowns. Even with Derek Henry, the running game struggled while the passing game wasn’t much better.
Head coach Mike Vrabel, however, doesn’t think anything needs to be done. Last week he came out in favor of Downing and stressed he had no intention of altering his training.
Vrabel said firing Downing, or any other coach, “is not something that’s going to happen right now.”
“I have faith in our staff,” Vrabel said, via the Tennessean. “I have confidence in the guys we put there. We have to keep training and performing better. … I appreciate everyone’s opinion, but I have to make sure everyone here – the players and the coaches – are all lined up and I know they are. That’s how you fix things and win a game.
“We need to understand who we are, what we believe in and what we have been successful in the past. Now is not the time to make wholesale changes all of a sudden,” Vrabel said. “It’s about getting back to basics and what we believe in and what we’ve been successful in and making sure everyone sees it the same way I do. . . The time is not up. more about self-preservation. This is a time to rally together, to meet people you believe in and people you trust.
Jimmy G praises QB coach
It’s interesting to hear Jimmy Garoppolo, who returned as a starter for the 49ers last week after Trey Lance left with a broken ankle, talk about freshman quarterbacks coach Brian Griese, a former quarterback of the NFL.
“He sees the game as a quarterback. He sees the game the same way and it’s good to have him in the room,” Garoppolo said during his media session on Wednesday. “It’s difficult to coach a quarterback. You have to see it the same way he does, which a lot of guys think they do, but maybe they don’t. He has the experience of being on the pitch, of being in those moments. It’s good to have a guy like that around.
Naturally, it’s easy to think of Patriots quarterbacks coach Joe Judge working with Mac Jones. Judge was a reserve quarterback at Mississippi State. Not quite the same experience that the Griese quotient brings to the table.