Patriots

Belichick calls running back depth a 'great situation'

Patriots

The New England Patriots got great performances from quarterbacks Cam Newton and Mac Jones in their dominant 35-0 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Thursday night's preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field.

But the most impressive aspect of the Patriots' victory was the rushing attack.

The Patriots ran for 207 yards on 44 carries (4.7 yards per attempt) with four touchdowns. 

Here's a breakdown of the rushing stats against the Eagles:

Player Attempts Yards TD
J.J. Taylor 12 93 1
Rhamondre Stevenson 15 66 2
Sony Michel 7 34 0
Damien Harris 6 14 1

Running back is one of the deepest and most talented position groups on the Patriots roster. It's a good mixture of veterans (James White, Sony Michel), young players (Damien Harris, J.J. Taylor) and a promising rookie in Rhamondre Stevenson. 

N'Keal Harry exits Pats-Eagles preseason game with injury

There might not be enough snaps for everyone during the regular season, but that's not a bad problem to have. 

"It's a good group," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said of the running backs after Thursday's win. "Those guys work hard. They've all gotten opportunities and showed positively in their opportunities. I think competition brings out the best in all of us. I think those guys are competing well and they're all contributing. It's a great situation."

The Patriots offense struggled throughout last season, but the running game was actually pretty good. It ranked fourth in total rushing yards, eighth in rushing yards per attempt and ninth in rushing touchdowns. 

This unit should be more productive this season given the talent and depth at the running back position, in addition to a strong offensive line that was bolstered by the offseason addition of tackle Trent Brown. Tight end acquisitions Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are good blockers in the run game, too.

 

A lot of attention has been paid to the Patriots quarterbacks over the last few weeks, and rightfully so. The battle between Newton and Jones has been fascinating to watch. But if the Patriots offense is going to be a top-tier unit again in 2021, the rushing attack likely will be mostly responsible for that success.