New England rushed a whopping 62% on first down last week. That ranks them first in the league after week 1, with the next closest team being LA Rams at 48%. The Pats had 42 total rushing attempts and just 19 pass attempts (69% running, nice).
This flies in the face of most anal ytic pundits. They claim that failed runs stall drives more often than failed passes, especially when those failed runs come on first down and the defense gets to pin their ears back.
But Belichick puts zero stock in their studies. He doesn’t care, and it usually works out for him. He knows of the two key variables that throws wrenches into the nerd-speak.
One, obviously, is the fact that running well makes it easier to hold leads. Take time off the clock, rest the defense, etc.
The other is the X factor you get when activating a QB as a run threat. Forcing the LBs to key on an extra player and having RB lead blockers will flip the script in trench battles.
When Cam is healthy, he’s one of those rare QBs that can throw (run?) the analytics playbook off the table. He had 15 rushes for 75 yards compared to 15 total pass completions. He also had double the amount of rushing yards that most anyone else in the game had (Miles Gaskin had the next most with 9/40 for Miami). He looked vintage on Sunday.
Well, kind of vintage. He wasn’t quite as explosive as his 2015 days, and he might have just benefited from the Dolphins horrid rush defense. The Miami Herald put out a fairly hilarious article on this after the game.
The Fins invested hundreds of millions into defense during free agency, but most of that was allocated to secondary and pass rushers. They had 11 draft picks, but only used one on a run defender – Bama DT Raekwon Davis in the 2nd round.
So was this an opponent-based scheme by Belichick, or is this how the Pats are gonna go all season? We’ll have to wait and see. The upside with Belichick’s brain and Cam’s legs seems limitless, but there is a huge downside – health.
Norv Turner tried to turn the Panthers scheme into more short-passing based and less QB running to protect Cam. But Cam didn’t want to do that, so they stayed the course. The result? Cam got killed.
By the end of Cam’s tenure in Charlotte, he had to be pulled for hail marys, All or Nothing doc footage showed him looking completely fucked, and he was shot putting throws left and right (and up and down) all over the field…
Shoulder = SHOT
But he’s had some rest now and is 100% fresh. Maybe it holds up for a whole season. If he was on any other team, I might even be cheering for that to happen.