The New England Patriots’ offense has been the topic of conversation around the league due in large part to the play of Cam Newton.
The 31-year-old quarterback is garnering praise after his first two games, simultaneously making NFL general managers look foolish for allowing him to sit on the open market for so long. One area that’s not exactly gaining as much notoriety, however, is the non-Newton Patriots running game.
It’s due to a lackluster performance against the Seattle Seahawks during Week 2’s “Sunday Night Football.”
As a team, the Patriots ran for 67 yards on 25 carries (2.5 yards per rush) in their loss to the Seahawks. Taking Newton’s production out of the equation (11 carries, 47 yards, two TDs), Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and J.J. Taylor combined for merely 20 yards on 14 carries (1.4 yards per carry).
That production isn’t going to get it done, and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels knows it. McDaniels told reporters Tuesday on a video conference that developing the running game is a “huge focus,” entering Week 3 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
“Certainly, Seattle deserves credit for the way they played and some of the things they did to try and disrupt our ability to run it effectively,” McDaniels said. “And then there’s certain things that, fundamentally, we can work on to improve to try to run the football better. Certainly, we got to do that better than we did the other night, I think everybody knows that. We weren’t as productive as we want to be each week.
“That will be a huge focus for us this week. Something we need to improve on,” McDaniels continued. “There’s a lot of areas we need to improve quickly, and that’s what this time of the year is usually about.”
The Raiders enter Sunday having allowed 120 rushing yards per game while going up against Christian McCaffrey’s Carolina Panthers and Alvin Kamara’s New Orleans Saints. Las Vegas had allowed a noteworthy 4.9 yards per carry in those two contests with a combine four rushing touchdowns.
The Patriots, obviously, do not have a bell cow back like McCaffrey or Kamara, but they’ll have to help increase their productivity for the offense to see some success both Sunday and longterm.
New England (1-1) will host Las Vegas (2-0) at Gillette Stadium with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images