- Apr 12, 2005
I agree with you that they seem to have been moving toward a more run-centric offense for a few years now. What I will say though, is that I don't know if it's a good thing. If you want to win with ground and pound in today's NFL, you better have a top 5 (probably top 3) defense who can keep the opponents offense off the field and limit them to about 23 points or less. A running offense has to be able to keep moving the chains, grinding out clock, because one or two bad drives against the KC's of the world, giving up a short field position, and you are doomed in today's game.I think 2020 was at the extreme end and agree they'd like to be more balanced than that. But I do see a multi-year effort to de-emphasize the passing game and emphasize the run (and defense). They had the best passing offense in the league in 2017, so they traded away their top receiver to draft an OL, let their #2 WR walk and didn't replace him with anybody, and drafted a running back in the first round. From watching the "Do Your Job" documentary, they were explicit that the Buffalo game - where they ran for 273 yards and only passed for 117 - was the blueprint for success in 2018 (though I would argue that the importance of the running game in the playoff run is overstated). In 2019 they invested in a couple WR, but Harry and Sanu were both big dudes who can block. But the OL/FB injuries took away the run game that year. Last year obviously they stood pat on WR and went with the power run. Even after drafting Michel they've put mid-round picks into early-down runners. This offseason they invested a lot in pass-catchers, but the two biggest tickets were tight ends (after drafting 2 TE fairly high last year). It all points to the same thing to me: they want to run the ball up the gut a lot on early downs and in short yardage, and have the ability to pass out of run looks.
The interesting question to me is why: was it to make up for a declining Brady in his twilight years? Was it to ease the transition to a younger QB by putting him in an O where he wasn't asked to throw 35-40 times a game? Is it to take advantage of defenses going smaller personnel, 220-lb LBs and dime defenses? Is it because he sees RBs as undervalued by modern analytics and WRs as overpriced, and is trying to buck the market and build an effective offense cheaper? All of the above?