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Superman

Evidence that RBs benefit from the passing game, not the other way around

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9 minutes ago, Superman said:

 

How good is CJ Anderson? He's been cut three times this year, already. I'm not saying he's bad, but he's the definition of a replacement level back, salvaged from the scrap heap in Week 15.

 

I have nothing against good or great RBs. I'm arguing about their impact, and the case of CJ Anderson speaks to the value of a good or great back, relative to an "okay" back like Anderson. 

 

James Conner is another case. Then Jaylen Samuels -- a converted hybrid TE -- took his place and was still able to produce. 

 

So how good of a back do you really need to have an effective run game? If you have a good passing game and a decent OL, there are examples around the league that suggest that an "okay" back is, well, okay. 

According to PFF research the elements of the run game in order of importance to running success are:

 

1. quality of offensive line run blocking play

2. quality of passing game 

3. quality of the RB 

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8 hours ago, Superman said:

How good is CJ Anderson? He's been cut three times this year, already. I'm not saying he's bad, but he's the definition of a replacement level back, salvaged from the scrap heap in Week 15.

 

I have nothing against good or great RBs. I'm arguing about their impact, and the case of CJ Anderson speaks to the value of a good or great back, relative to an "okay" back like Anderson. 

 

James Conner is another case. Then Jaylen Samuels -- a converted hybrid TE -- took his place and was still able to produce. 

 

So how good of a back do you really need to have an effective run game? If you have a good passing game and a decent OL, there are examples around the league that suggest that an "okay" back is, well, okay. 

 

Better than John Kelly, as the Rams found out.

 

I agree with your premise that you don't need to invest in elite RBs.

 

But the effectiveness of the RB influences the effectiveness of the system.  You can't just plug a below-average RB into a good system and expect the same results.

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8 hours ago, stitches said:

According to PFF research the elements of the run game in order of importance to running success are:

 

1. quality of offensive line run blocking play

2. quality of passing game 

3. quality of the RB 

Well it looks like we have 1 and 2 nailed down.  Now we have to find a RB because Mack is not even "okay".   We need a quality RB that defenses have to think and worry about.  

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20 minutes ago, richard pallo said:

Well it looks like we have 1 and 2 nailed down.  Now we have to find a RB because Mack is not even "okay".   We need a quality RB that defenses have to think and worry about.  

 

99 out of a 100 here know we don't have #2. So that means...  :thinking:

 

 

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It sure is a good thing that there is internet and websites that do studies so we know the intricacies of the game. God forbid we actually watch football and form a opinion on our own. 

haha

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9 hours ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

Better than John Kelly, as the Rams found out.

 

I agree with your premise that you don't need to invest in elite RBs.

 

But the effectiveness of the RB influences the effectiveness of the system.  You can't just plug a below-average RB into a good system and expect the same results.

 

I'm definitely not suggesting that a better back won't help your offense. I'm talking about a diminishing return, and I'm talking about an offensive approach that acknowledges the role and impact of the running game vs the passing game. 

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8 hours ago, LJpalmbeacher2 said:

God forbid we actually watch football and form a opinion on our own. 

 

It's interesting that you're acting like your opinion of the game hasn't been influenced by what TV commentators and coaches have said basically every time you've watched or listened to a game. 

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19 hours ago, NewColtsFan said:

 

And yet the Rams spent a high first round pick on a RB .  10th overall.     And the Seahawks, who had a 1st round talent with Beastmode now added another 1st round RB this year.     So, if what you're saying is true,  why are successful teams spending top draft capital on a RB.    They shouldn't be.

 

Your argument is nearly saying that the Sun revolves around the earth and not the other way around.    Or that water flows up stream and not down.     Before I'm drinking any of that kookaid,  I'd like a much larger sample size.     This feels like a misread of information is leading to a false conclusion.  

 

The rules are favoring passing.   So opposing teams are not as worried about RB's beating them as they are about QB's.    But I don't think that means that a good RB doesn't help the passing game.

 

I see this differently.....

 

 

To the bolded, how long have I been saying that I wouldn't use a first rounder on a RB? My thinking there is well established, for many years now. I had a problem with the Colts drafting Donald Brown in the first round, ten years ago.

 

But you keep coming back to 'how it's always been,' showing a great regard for history. I also appreciate the history of the game, so let's talk about it.

 

Jim Kelly was one of the most dynamic passers of the '80s and 90s. The Bills' high tempo offense kind of revolutionized the game. They also had a HOF RB, Thurman Thomas. In SB25 against the Giants, their explosive offense was held to just 19 points, ten fewer than their season average to that point. The Giants DC was Belichick, who strategized a gameplan that focused on slowing down the Bills passing game, while letting Thomas rack up yards on the ground. Belichick understand that the key to the Bills' success was not their very good running game, but their very good passing game.

 

Kelly's career averages: 221.7 yards/game, 60.1% completion rate, 84.4 passer rating, 29.9 attempts/game, 18 completions/game. He never threw for 4,000 yards in a season, never threw for more than 33 TDs in a season, never attempted more than 480 passes in a season (he averaged 434 attempts/season), never completed more than 304 passes in a season (he averaged 261 attempts/season). He averaged  He was sacked on 6% of his dropbacks, and had a 1.35:1 TD:INT ratio. 

 

Passing dynamo, Jim Kelly. (By the way, Kelly's volume numbers look similar to other HOF QBs from that era; and even Marino, whose volume was ahead of its time, had similar efficiency numbers.)

 

This season, four QBs attempted more than 600 passes, and those same four QBs completed more than 400 passes. Seattle's offense has been criticized for being overly conservative, overly focused on the run game, and yet Russell Wilson's volume numbers this season were basically what Jim Kelly would have done in one of his very best seasons. But Wilson's production was much more efficient than Kelly ever was. For instance, he had a 5:1 TD:INT ratio, but he doesn't play with Andre Reed, James Lofton, or Thurman Thomas.

 

When Jim Kelly was taking defenses by storm, the league was still dominated by great RBs. That continued to be the case for the next 15 years. Then the passing game started to evolve, for various reasons. In today's NFL, even pedestrian QBs have better volume and efficiency numbers than the HOFers of the 90s. So the passing game has become more efficient, more effective, and has come to have a greater impact on the game. Meanwhile, the efficiency and effectiveness of the running game has mostly stayed the same, but the impact has become reduced.

 

Long story short: The game has changed. Passers are more efficient, productive, and explosive, and winning strategies have changed. Football is not the same as it was 50-60 years ago; it's not even the same as it was 10-15 years ago. I don't think this is a radical proposition.

 

Stitches mentioned the changes in the NBA. Over a similar period of time, the NBA has changed in a similar way, and in the last eight years or so, those changes have been very dramatic and have led to an offensive revolution. The reasons for those changes are many and varied, but no one would deny that those changes are real, nor would anyone deny the impact they've had on the game. 

 

Yet, in the NFL, we resist these changes, even deny that they exist, even when the data clearly supports that these changes have impacted the game, and that they should impact the way coaches approach the game. 

 

That's the big picture. Smaller picture, in this thread, is about the data that suggests that defenses don't stack the box against great RBs if the passing game is effective -- as shown by the fact that Gurley hardly ever faced a stacked box -- which helps to debunk the still-popular myth that acquiring a great RB forces defenses to stack the box. Defenses basically played the Rams the same way Belichick's Giants played Thurman Thomas in SB25, and Gurley is no worse than the second best back in the league. 

 

Again, I don't see how this is a radical proposition. And there's plenty of data to back it up.

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11 hours ago, LJpalmbeacher2 said:

It sure is a good thing that there is internet and websites that do studies so we know the intricacies of the game. God forbid we actually watch football and form a opinion on our own. 

haha

 

The RB debate has been ongoing for years on this forum.  These sites are simply confirming what some have been saying for quite some time.

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13 hours ago, richard pallo said:

Well it looks like we have 1 and 2 nailed down.  Now we have to find a RB because Mack is not even "okay".   We need a quality RB that defenses have to think and worry about.  

 

Mack is not even OK?

 

Really?     When did that happen?

 

Were you trying to be humorous and my sense of humor detector failed to go off?

 

I'm not saying I expect Mack to be our starting RB for the next 5 years,  but the idea that he's not even "OK" is........  astonishing....      seriously.

 

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3 hours ago, Superman said:

 

To the bolded, how long have I been saying that I wouldn't use a first rounder on a RB? My thinking there is well established, for many years now. I had a problem with the Colts drafting Donald Brown in the first round, ten years ago.

 

But you keep coming back to 'how it's always been,' showing a great regard for history. I also appreciate the history of the game, so let's talk about it.

 

Jim Kelly was one of the most dynamic passers of the '80s and 90s. The Bills' high tempo offense kind of revolutionized the game. They also had a HOF RB, Thurman Thomas. In SB25 against the Giants, their explosive offense was held to just 19 points, ten fewer than their season average to that point. The Giants DC was Belichick, who strategized a gameplan that focused on slowing down the Bills passing game, while letting Thomas rack up yards on the ground. Belichick understand that the key to the Bills' success was not their very good running game, but their very good passing game.

 

Kelly's career averages: 221.7 yards/game, 60.1% completion rate, 84.4 passer rating, 29.9 attempts/game, 18 completions/game. He never threw for 4,000 yards in a season, never threw for more than 33 TDs in a season, never attempted more than 480 passes in a season (he averaged 434 attempts/season), never completed more than 304 passes in a season (he averaged 261 attempts/season). He averaged  He was sacked on 6% of his dropbacks, and had a 1.35:1 TD:INT ratio. 

 

Passing dynamo, Jim Kelly. (By the way, Kelly's volume numbers look similar to other HOF QBs from that era; and even Marino, whose volume was ahead of its time, had similar efficiency numbers.)

 

This season, four QBs attempted more than 600 passes, and those same four QBs completed more than 400 passes. Seattle's offense has been criticized for being overly conservative, overly focused on the run game, and yet Russell Wilson's volume numbers this season were basically what Jim Kelly would have done in one of his very best seasons. But Wilson's production was much more efficient than Kelly ever was. For instance, he had a 5:1 TD:INT ratio, but he doesn't play with Andre Reed, James Lofton, or Thurman Thomas.

 

When Jim Kelly was taking defenses by storm, the league was still dominated by great RBs. That continued to be the case for the next 15 years. Then the passing game started to evolve, for various reasons. In today's NFL, even pedestrian QBs have better volume and efficiency numbers than the HOFers of the 90s. So the passing game has become more efficient, more effective, and has come to have a greater impact on the game. Meanwhile, the efficiency and effectiveness of the running game has mostly stayed the same, but the impact has become reduced.

 

Long story short: The game has changed. Passers are more efficient, productive, and explosive, and winning strategies have changed. Football is not the same as it was 50-60 years ago; it's not even the same as it was 10-15 years ago. I don't think this is a radical proposition.

 

Stitches mentioned the changes in the NBA. Over a similar period of time, the NBA has changed in a similar way, and in the last eight years or so, those changes have been very dramatic and have led to an offensive revolution. The reasons for those changes are many and varied, but no one would deny that those changes are real, nor would anyone deny the impact they've had on the game. 

 

Yet, in the NFL, we resist these changes, even deny that they exist, even when the data clearly supports that these changes have impacted the game, and that they should impact the way coaches approach the game. 

 

That's the big picture. Smaller picture, in this thread, is about the data that suggests that defenses don't stack the box against great RBs if the passing game is effective -- as shown by the fact that Gurley hardly ever faced a stacked box -- which helps to debunk the still-popular myth that acquiring a great RB forces defenses to stack the box. Defenses basically played the Rams the same way Belichick's Giants played Thurman Thomas in SB25, and Gurley is no worse than the second best back in the league. 

 

Again, I don't see how this is a radical proposition. And there's plenty of data to back it up.

 

I'm sorry,  but there ISN'T plenty of data to back anything up.

 

Why you felt the need to write 5-6 paragraphs about what happened more than 25 years ago is beyond comprension?    You needed 5-6 paragraphs to say the rules of the NFL has changed?    Didn't I just say that in one sentence?   

 

And why is that Super Bowl of value?    If the FG is good,  the Bills win the game and you're not writing 5-6 paragraphs.     What is going on here?

 

You want facts?    Look at more recent history....

 

RB's taken in the first round....

 

2018

Barkley 2

Penny 27

Michel 31

 

Note:  Michel taken by BILL BELICHICK

 

2017

Fournette   4

McCaffrey  8

 

2016

Elliott

 

2015

Gurley   10

Gordon  15

 

2014

No 1st round backs

First RB Bishop Sankey at 54

 

2013

No 1st round backs

First RB Giovanni Bernard at 37

 

After no RB's taken in 2013 and 2014, people wondered if there would ever be a first round RB again.   Fair point?    But they have come back.    Eight in the last four drafts.   And only one, Fournette is a big question mark.   Six are doing fine.   One more, Penny had a disappointing rookie year, but too soon to write him off.

 

So, what do NFL teams know that fans don't?    That quality RB's are helpful to a successful offense.   I would think that's obvious on it's face.    If you want to argue that the rules have devalued the running game and increased the value of the passing game,  we are in complete agreement.   But the idea that a RB is practically unimportant which appears to be the underlying tone of your posts,  I think is 100% false.   Didn't the Colts offense perk up when our ground game got better?    Didn't our offense bog down a bit when our ground game was stuffed? 

 

I'm not a big advocate of a 1st round running back.   I'd prefer one only when all the other major pieces are in place,  but I thnk we're a long ways from that level.   But I try to always allow for the exception to the rule RB.   Like Barkley.   Wouldn't everyone love to have him?

 

You continue to argue there's a lot of evidence.   But so far,  you've given me the Rams and the Seahawks.   Well,  given their draft history,  I'm not sure those two teams would agree with you.  And I think the other 30 teams are waiting to be heard from.

 

I'm waiting.....

 

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14 hours ago, richard pallo said:

Well it looks like we have 1 and 2 nailed down.  Now we have to find a RB because Mack is not even "okay".   We need a quality RB that defenses have to think and worry about.  

Mack was pretty good this year. I'm on the record saying he leaves yards on the field, but IMO he's plenty good enough for our run game to be successful with him and it has been successful with him. I personally wouldn't invest heavily in a RB(anything more than a late 3d or 5-6M in FA) in a RB. I would definitely NOT give Bell 15M a year. The reason we lost in the playoffs was NOT Mack and the run game. It was the pass-game being ineffective because the defense gave away early lead and KC played the entire game from ahead and could unleash the best part of its defense - the pass-rush(+Luck didn't have his best game). 

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5 hours ago, Superman said:

I'm talking about a diminishing return, and I'm talking about an offensive approach that acknowledges the role and impact of the running game vs the passing game.

 

32 minutes ago, NewColtsFan said:

After no RB's taken in 2013 and 2014, people wondered if there would ever be a first round RB again.   Fair point?    But they have come back.    Eight in the last four drafts.   And only one, Fournette is a big question mark.   Six are doing fine.   One more, Penny had a disappointing rookie year, but too soon to write him off.

 

I feel like the NFL is in the middle of a weird ebb-and-flow right now.

 

It's become a passing league, so teams are playing more nickel and dime defenses to combat 3 and 4 WR sets, which opens up opportunities for the running game, so teams are starting to invest in RBs again to take advantage...

 

And then there's RPO plays and mobile QBs running play-action passes and moving around forcing defenders to make a choice, leading to QBs turning into runners, and RBs turning into receivers, and receivers turning into blockers, all depending on what the defense does... it's enough to make my head spin.

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1 hour ago, NewColtsFan said:

 

I'm sorry,  but there ISN'T plenty of data to back anything up.

 

Why you felt the need to write 5-6 paragraphs about what happened more than 25 years ago is beyond comprension?    You needed 5-6 paragraphs to say the rules of the NFL has changed?    Didn't I just say that in one sentence?   

 

And why is that Super Bowl of value?    If the FG is good,  the Bills win the game and you're not writing 5-6 paragraphs.     What is going on here?

 

You want facts?    Look at more recent history....

 

RB's taken in the first round....

 

2018

Barkley 2

Penny 27

Michel 31

 

Note:  Michel taken by BILL BELICHICK

 

2017

Fournette   4

McCaffrey  8

 

2016

Elliott

 

2015

Gurley   10

Gordon  15

 

2014

No 1st round backs

First RB Bishop Sankey at 54

 

2013

No 1st round backs

First RB Giovanni Bernard at 37

 

After no RB's taken in 2013 and 2014, people wondered if there would ever be a first round RB again.   Fair point?    But they have come back.    Eight in the last four drafts.   And only one, Fournette is a big question mark.   Six are doing fine.   One more, Penny had a disappointing rookie year, but too soon to write him off.

 

So, what do NFL teams know that fans don't?    That quality RB's are helpful to a successful offense.   I would think that's obvious on it's face.    If you want to argue that the rules have devalued the running game and increased the value of the passing game,  we are in complete agreement.   But the idea that a RB is practically unimportant which appears to be the underlying tone of your posts,  I think is 100% false.   Didn't the Colts offense perk up when our ground game got better?    Didn't our offense bog down a bit when our ground game was stuffed? 

 

I'm not a big advocate of a 1st round running back.   I'd prefer one only when all the other major pieces are in place,  but I thnk we're a long ways from that level.   But I try to always allow for the exception to the rule RB.   Like Barkley.   Wouldn't everyone love to have him?

 

You continue to argue there's a lot of evidence.   But so far,  you've given me the Rams and the Seahawks.   Well,  given their draft history,  I'm not sure those two teams would agree with you.  And I think the other 30 teams are waiting to be heard from.

 

I'm waiting.....

 

You are acting like teams are flawless and they don't hold onto antiquated ideas proven to be wrong(BTW the data on the run game affecting winning is VERY SOUND AND EXTENSIVE and the fact that teams are slow to catch up does not reflect the amount and quality of the evidence). Again ... I will come back to basketball because I think there the case has been established much more clearly - it wasn't that long ago that we kept hearing how a jump shooting team cannot win in the league. This was a talking point by NBA execs/commentators/ex-NBA players on a daily basis.  They all were harping on about how important low post presence was(yes, the worst shot in basketball). Even the most analytics based team at the time... the Sixers still drafted one of the most antiquated and archaic players drafted recently at the top of the draft(Jahlil Okafor at no.3). The point is - teams make mistakes! Teams sometimes hold onto antiquated beliefs. Even the best of them. 

 

The team X is drafting RB high is not an argument. Look at the evidence. Case studies and anecdotes are NOT evidence. Look at the entirety of it. Look at the football outsiders studies they've published by studying years upon years and tens of thousands of snaps. Look at the evidence PFF provides. Look at the evidence 538 provides. Look at this, or this or this... Those are not case studies of a single team in a single game, where samples are close to meaningless when it comes to establishing trends. Purely statistically the evidence is overwhelming. This is not some controversial idea. At least it shouldn't be. The only reason it is is that teams and analysts are slow to adapt, and BTW they WILL adapt... just wait for it, otherwise they will simply be ousted by the smarter/more receptive to new ideas teams/GMs in the league. The league as a whole is just too conservative and stuck in its ways. To me it's shocking every time i hear "we need to establish the run".

 

Max Planck once said "Science progresses one funeral at a time". What he meant at the time was that science progresses mostly not by convincing the old generation that the new revolutionary ideas are right, but by the old generation stuck in its ways dying out and letting the new generation of scientists continue developing their theories and ideas. The NFL is much more conservative and stuck in its ways environment than even that. But it will happen. Sooner or later it will happen. It's already happening. 

 

(just in case I haven't been clear enough let me put in this disclaimer once again - noone is arguing that the run game is totally useless or that a great RB wouldn't be good for a team. It would! But the importance of it and its effect on the passing game and on winning should be put in perspective). 

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2 hours ago, stitches said:

You are acting like teams are flawless and they don't hold onto antiquated ideas proven to be wrong(BTW the data on the run game affecting winning is VERY SOUND AND EXTENSIVE and the fact that teams are slow to catch up does not reflect the amount and quality of the evidence). Again ... I will come back to basketball because I think there the case has been established much more clearly - it wasn't that long ago that we kept hearing how a jump shooting team cannot win in the league. This was a talking point by NBA execs/commentators/ex-NBA players on a daily basis.  They all were harping on about how important low post presence was(yes, the worst shot in basketball). Even the most analytics based team at the time... the Sixers still drafted one of the most antiquated and archaic players drafted recently at the top of the draft(Jahlil Okafor at no.3). The point is - teams make mistakes! Teams sometimes hold onto antiquated beliefs. Even the best of them. 

 

The team X is drafting RB high is not an argument. Look at the evidence. Case studies and anecdotes are NOT evidence. Look at the entirety of it. Look at the football outsiders studies they've published by studying years upon years and tens of thousands of snaps. Look at the evidence PFF provides. Look at the evidence 538 provides. Look at this, or this or this... Those are not case studies of a single team in a single game, where samples are close to meaningless when it comes to establishing trends. Purely statistically the evidence is overwhelming. This is not some controversial idea. At least it shouldn't be. The only reason it is is that teams and analysts are slow to adapt, and BTW they WILL adapt... just wait for it, otherwise they will simply be ousted by the smarter/more receptive to new ideas teams/GMs in the league. The league as a whole is just too conservative and stuck in its ways. To me it's shocking every time i hear "we need to establish the run".

 

Max Planck once said "Science progresses one funeral at a time". What he meant at the time was that science progresses mostly not by convincing the old generation that the new revolutionary ideas are right, but by the old generation stuck in its ways dying out and letting the new generation of scientists continue developing their theories and ideas. The NFL is much more conservative and stuck in its ways environment than even that. But it will happen. Sooner or later it will happen. It's already happening. 

 

(just in case I haven't been clear enough let me put in this disclaimer once again - noone is arguing that the run game is totally useless or that a great RB wouldn't be good for a team. It would! But the importance of it and its effect on the passing game and on winning should be put in perspective). 

 

First,  sorry,  but of course noting the rash of recent RB's taken in the first round and many of them high in the first round, IS evidence.    How could it not be?

 

NFL teams have far more analytical evidence than you or I, or PFF or PFO or any other website could ever have.    Hell,  Bill Belichick practically invented NFL analytics and Superman pointed to his genius nearly 30 years ago for what he supposedly figured out and Belichick himself used a first round pick on Sony Michel THIS YEAR.    How is that not evidence?

 

Again,  if you want to say that the rules of the game more heavily favor the passing game and heavily discount the running game,  THERE IS NO ARGUMENT FROM ME.    But that's due to rule changes.    Teams don't fear Todd Gurley as much beating them with 150 yards rushing.   What they fear MORE is Jared Goff passing for 350 yards.    Again,  no dispute. 

 

The idea of loaded boxes proves my point.   The real fear is the passing game.    But an effective running game is still very important.

 

Just look at the Final 4 teams.   Everyone agrees that the four are the best four teams in the NFL this year.     New England,  Sony Michel, 1st round running back.    KC, had 3rd round RB Hunt who gave them 1st round value.   And the Chiefs offense slumped after he was lost and replaced by Spencer Ware.     The Rams have Gurley picked 10th overall,  and CJA thrown in for good measure.   Plus,  the Saints have Mark Ingram (1st rounder) and Alvin Kamara (3rd rounder).

 

So, all four teams, all with top coaches and GM's,  have invested heavily in RB's.   They seem to recognize the importance of a running attack.   Sorry,  but I'd be putting my support in those four teams rather than some analysis that I think overstates its case and misses the point.

 

Dismissing the importance of the ground game is done with great risk.

 

Last thought....   I'm impressed that you found a number of studies that support your position.    There's only one problem.    The NFL doesn't seem to accept it.  At least,  not yet.   And I've just pointed out that the four top teams make real time decisions that go against these studies.   And that BB used a 1st round pick on a RB.    Now why would he do that if these studies are so conclusive?   It may be extensive enough for you and others,  but as long as it's not adapted by the NFL,  I'm skeptical.

 

By the way,  I'm predicting zero 1st round running backs this draft.   Not because of the studies,  but because I don't think there's one with first round talent.    

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1 hour ago, NewColtsFan said:

 

First,  sorry,  but of course noting the rash of recent RB's taken in the first round and many of them high in the first round, IS evidence.    How could it not be?


NFL teams have far more analytical evidence than you or I, or PFF or PFO or any other website could ever have.    Hell,  Bill Belichick practically invented NFL analytics and Superman pointed to his genius nearly 30 years ago for what he supposedly figured out and Belichick himself used a first round pick on Sony Michel THIS YEAR.    How is that not evidence?

It is evidence for SOMETHING. It is evidence for how NFL teams value RBs.... it is however NOT evidence about how valuable RBs are to winning. All the links posted in the previous pages along with the ones I gave tell you how valuable RBs are for winning or for your passing game. They are not completely meaningless, but they are a very small part compared to other parts of the game(generally the positions connected to passing the ball or defending the pass). Now if a team like New England is on the cusp of contending(Superbowl finalist from the previous year) and they have a relatively complete roster, picking a RB might be a "last part of the puzzle" type of move, which IMO is still faulty reasoning but more understandable. 

Quote

 

Again,  if you want to say that the rules of the game more heavily favor the passing game and heavily discount the running game,  THERE IS NO ARGUMENT FROM ME.    But that's due to rule changes.    Teams don't fear Todd Gurley as much beating them with 150 yards rushing.   What they fear MORE is Jared Goff passing for 350 yards.    Again,  no dispute. 

 

The idea of loaded boxes proves my point.   The real fear is the passing game.    But an effective running game is still very important.

 

It's not just due to rule changes. It's due to offensive minds devising better strategies and schemes to utilize the offensive weapons... that combined with rule changes. 

 

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Just look at the Final 4 teams.   Everyone agrees that the four are the best four teams in the NFL this year.     New England,  Sony Michel, 1st round running back.    KC, had 3rd round RB Hunt who gave them 1st round value.   And the Chiefs offense slumped after he was lost and replaced by Spencer Ware.     The Rams have Gurley picked 10th overall,  and CJA thrown in for good measure.   Plus,  the Saints have Mark Ingram (1st rounder) and Alvin Kamara (3rd rounder).

 

The very fact that you can replace Hunt and Gurley with off-the-street free agents and get very similar production should tell you about what are the main reasons for those teams having good running games - namely - the offensive lines and the passing game that takes defenders off the box and into coverage. Those are MUCH more important factors to the successful running game than the quality of the back you have. 

 

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So, all four teams, all with top coaches and GM's,  have invested heavily in RB's.   They seem to recognize the importance of a running attack.   Sorry,  but I'd be putting my support in those four teams rather than some analysis that I think overstates its case and misses the point.

So you listed 2 teams with 3d round backs as their primary RB, one of which was replaced by an off-the-street RB and a team with a late 1st RB that was in the SB last year without that RB and another team with a 1st round RB who has been outplayed by off-the-street FA since they got that FA? I can give you much more clear common factor between those teams... Do you know what all of those teams have in common? All 4 of them are in the top 5 of passing offenses in the league. 3 of the 4 have top 8 offensive lines in the NFL. The 4th is KC who is still above average and have the most explosive passing game from all of them. 

 

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Dismissing the importance of the ground game is done with great risk.

 

Last thought....   I'm impressed that you found a number of studies that support your position.    There's only one problem.    The NFL doesn't seem to accept it.  At least,  not yet.   And I've just pointed out that the four top teams make real time decisions that go against these studies.   And that BB used a 1st round pick on a RB.    Now why would he do that if these studies are so conclusive?   It may be extensive enough for you and others,  but as long as it's not adapted by the NFL,  I'm skeptical.

 

By the way,  I'm predicting zero 1st round running backs this draft.   Not because of the studies,  but because I don't think there's one with first round talent.    

 

 

Fair enough. I guess it ultimately boils down to this... You trust the teams who are still picking RBs high, I trust the numbers that tell me they are making a mistake. We will see in due time... or our kids will see once we die out. :D 

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real teams are still taking RBs in the first, even the patriots did it

 

i think some of you are over thinking it.  players like gurley and elliot were good picks imo.  there are examples of replacement players producing at every position including QB. 

 

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what would you guys need to see from gurley and elliot to to admit they were good picks? both have led the league in rushing behind good olines

 

QBs and receivers depend on the line too.  i dont buy the premise that only a few positions should be drafted early.  we took a guard and safety with our last two  #1 picks, i think an elite back can impact the game as much or more than them 

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8 hours ago, NewColtsFan said:

 

Mack is not even OK?

 

Really?     When did that happen?

 

Were you trying to be humorous and my sense of humor detector failed to go off?

 

I'm not saying I expect Mack to be our starting RB for the next 5 years,  but the idea that he's not even "OK" is........  astonishing....      seriously.

 

Okay... He's OK....but nothing worth game planing for. 

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7 hours ago, stitches said:

Mack was pretty good this year. I'm on the record saying he leaves yards on the field, but IMO he's plenty good enough for our run game to be successful with him and it has been successful with him. I personally wouldn't invest heavily in a RB(anything more than a late 3d or 5-6M in FA) in a RB. I would definitely NOT give Bell 15M a year. The reason we lost in the playoffs was NOT Mack and the run game. It was the pass-game being ineffective because the defense gave away early lead and KC played the entire game from ahead and could unleash the best part of its defense - the pass-rush(+Luck didn't have his best game). 

I still feel Mack is a no. 2 back that should spell a new lead back.  As you know I would give Bell 15M a year because I think he is worth every penny.  He is only 26, teams have to account for him on every play, and he's a pass catching threat as well.  He is far superior to Mack and we can easily afford him.  I think it was NFL.com who just called him a "transcendent" talent. That's pretty lofty.  I think we would have a better chance at winning a SB with Bell vs. Mack.  Especially since the rules now favor passing as we all know.  Signing him would instantly give Andrew the playmaker he needs.  I know I'm in the minority but that's okay.  Nothing wrong with dual perspectives.  

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Chiefs ran the ball more efficiently with Damien Williams than Kareem Hunt. And they did score a bit less after Hunt was cut but still led the league in scoring post-Hunt. While they didn't lead the league in scoring before that, for the first 11 weeks.

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21 hours ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

I feel like the NFL is in the middle of a weird ebb-and-flow right now.

 

It's become a passing league, so teams are playing more nickel and dime defenses to combat 3 and 4 WR sets, which opens up opportunities for the running game, so teams are starting to invest in RBs again to take advantage...

 

And then there's RPO plays and mobile QBs running play-action passes and moving around forcing defenders to make a choice, leading to QBs turning into runners, and RBs turning into receivers, and receivers turning into blockers, all depending on what the defense does... it's enough to make my head spin.

 

The game is still very much about matchups. If I can run from 11 personnel against a six man front, I'm going to do just that. If defenses try to cover my receiving back or slot guy with a dime safety or -- heaven forbid -- a linebacker, I'm going to exploit that matchup. 

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14 hours ago, richard pallo said:

I still feel Mack is a no. 2 back that should spell a new lead back.  As you know I would give Bell 15M a year because I think he is worth every penny.  He is only 26, teams have to account for him on every play, and he's a pass catching threat as well.  He is far superior to Mack and we can easily afford him.  I think it was NFL.com who just called him a "transcendent" talent. That's pretty lofty.  I think we would have a better chance at winning a SB with Bell vs. Mack.  Especially since the rules now favor passing as we all know.  Signing him would instantly give Andrew the playmaker he needs.  I know I'm in the minority but that's okay.  Nothing wrong with dual perspectives.  

 

I'm not going to let this thread get derailed into another discussion about Mack vs Bell. 

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22 hours ago, NewColtsFan said:

Why you felt the need to write 5-6 paragraphs about what happened more than 25 years ago is beyond comprension?    You needed 5-6 paragraphs to say the rules of the NFL has changed?    Didn't I just say that in one sentence?   

 

First, haven't you spent several posts talking about what the NFL has been doing for 50-60 years? 

 

Second, you keep mentioning the rules of the NFL, but that's not what my point was. The reason the game has shifted in favor of passing is not limited to rules changes. That's only one element, and it's often overstated. The rules in college football don't favor passing as dramatically as NFL rules (pass interference, holding, etc., for instance), yet college football has experienced the same shift toward passing -- probably moreso.

 

Stitches already mentioned strategies and schemes. I'll add that football is experiencing a QB renaissance at all levels. QBs are better coached, better prepared, coaches make better use of athletic QBs, etc. Spread QBs are able to start and play at a high level as rookies. These changes are not just about the rules.

 

I don't know if you agree with all of that, but you obviously agree that the game has changed. So let's stop talking about what football has been about for the last 50-60 years.

 

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And why is that Super Bowl of value?    If the FG is good,  the Bills win the game and you're not writing 5-6 paragraphs.     What is going on here?

 

And again, you completely missed the point. The outcome of that game couldn't be less relevant. The Giants' defensive gameplan was meant to shut down the Bills passing game, even if it meant letting their HOF RB rack up yards. And it worked. 

 

Maybe the reason you missed the point is because you're focused on this 'good teams take RBs in the first round' and 'good teams still run the ball' angle, which isn't what I'm arguing.

 

I'm arguing that the evidence suggests that a) a good RB doesn't force teams to stack the box to stop the run, b) you don't have to establish the run for play action to be successful. This all conflicts with the long-standing notion that you have to run to set up the pass.

 

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So, what do NFL teams know that fans don't?    That quality RB's are helpful to a successful offense.   I would think that's obvious on it's face. 

 

Again, we're off track here. I've never argued that quality RBs don't help a good offense. Better players at any position help any unit of any team. This isn't something fans -- or I -- don't know.

 

The more on point conversation is whether a quality RB has sufficient value above an 'adequate' RB to justify using significant resources on a quality RB. But again, that's not what my point has been in this thread.

 

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But the idea that a RB is practically unimportant which appears to be the underlying tone of your posts,  I think is 100% false.   Didn't the Colts offense perk up when our ground game got better?    Didn't our offense bog down a bit when our ground game was stuffed? 

 

I don't see how you got that from my posts. I think you're projecting an argument onto me that I've never made, because I absolutely DO NOT think that RBs are unimportant. 

 

I would entertain a discussion about how good of a back a good offense actually needs, and again, the value of a great RB relative to a good RB. As you said, you wouldn't use a first rounder on a RB unless other more important positions are already well set, so you recognize to a certain extent that there's a value discrepancy between RB and those other positions.

 

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The NFL doesn't seem to accept it.

 

This is also a big problem, for me. First, it's not exactly true. You've already mentioned how the NFL has shifted away from drafting RBs in recent years. Even with a slight resurgence over the last couple years, there are still fewer RBs being drafted in the first round, and definitely in the top ten.  Also, NFL teams clearly favor the passing game more than they used to. In 2003, three teams passed one 60% or more of their offensive plays, and five teams were below 50%. In 2018, fourteen teams passed on 60% or more of their offensive plays, and only one team was below 50%. I don't think any of this is up for debate.

 

Second, this is a classic appeal to authority. NFL teams do a lot of things that turn out to be mistakes. These same teams are hiring and firing coaches and GMs every few years, hopping on and off trends regularly, and in general just going where the current winds seem to be blowing. Just because Belichick spends a first rounder on a RB doesn't mean it's a good strategy. (And again, we're back to draft strategy, which isn't my point here.)

 

Of course, if a football decision is either based on Belichick's judgment -- or even the collective judgment of NFL decision-makers -- or my judgment, you should go with Belichick and the NFL. I'm fine with that. I'm not arguing that I know better than NFL coaches.

 

My argument is that fans and analysts -- not coaches, whose words are meaningless compared to their actions -- are wrong when they say things like 'a great RB takes pressure off of the QB,' or 'you have to establish the run to use play action,' or 'you have to run to set up the pass.' 

 

As a matter of fact, my argument in this thread is that NFL coaches have already shown that they're more focused on stopping the pass than stopping the run. For instance, the Rams have one of the best RBs in the league, but he almost never faces a stacked box. 

 

The claim leading up to the draft was that taking Saquon Barkley -- a generational talent at RB, no doubt about it, and I said that at the time -- would result in defenses loading the box against our passing game. Yet, the Giants offense faced a loaded box less often in 2018 than they did in 2017. Orleans Darkwa rushed against an 8 man box on 44% of his attempts in 2017; Barkley only rushed against an 8 man box on 23% of his attempts in 2018. Primary reason is that the Giants actually had NFL quality WRs in 2018.

 

Teams that are rushing at a high level are mostly doing so because they have efficient and productive passing games, not the other way around. That's what my point is, that's what these studies are suggesting, and that's what I'm trying to emphasize.

 

Not draft strategy, not RB value. But just as my thread title stated: RBs benefit from the passing game, not the other way around.

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Funny thing how this years SB teams both feature running backs taken in the 1st. Rd.  Bellicheck drafted his last year.  I guess he felt his RB's weren't benefiting enough from having Brady, the so called GOAT, at QB.  He felt the need to draft a RB, a 1st. RD. pick mind you, to get his offense going and take some pressure off his QB.  His other RB's couldn't benefit from having Brady.  But Michel changed everything.  Look at all the RB's taken in the 1st. rd the last four years.  Probably just as many in the 2nd. rd. too.   On the other hand the Colts keep trying at RB with 4th. rd. picks and beyond.  Looks like times are a changing to me. 

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https://www.bigblueview.com/2018/8/24/17764412/having-a-smarter-conversation-about-the-run-game

 

Here's another piece that suggests that defenses don't stack the box based on who the RB is, they stack the box based on the offensive personnel grouping. If the offense goes with a big grouping, the defense is more likely to stack the box; if the offense lines up with 3 WRs, the defense is far less likely to stack the box (which speaks to why the Rams never see stacked boxes; they stay in 11 personnel). 

 

This piece also suggests that responding to a stacked box with more blockers is a disadvantage to the offense.

 

(This should all exclude short yardage and goal line; "success" in those situations is defined much differently.)

 

I said earlier, running out of 11 personnel is a major key to a good offense. If you run 11 personnel, you'll almost never see eight defenders in the box. About 63% of the time you'll see five or six defenders in the box. So can you run effectively behind six blockers against five or six (and sometimes seven) defenders? Or can you beat a seven or eight man box with a three receiver formation?

 

Again, Gurley is one of the best backs in the NFL -- top three by any measure -- and he basically NEVER sees a stacked box. The idea that defenses will stack the box because your offense has a great back is not based in fact.

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On 1/20/2019 at 11:26 PM, Superman said:

 

The game is still very much about matchups. If I can run from 11 personnel against a six man front, I'm going to do just that. If defenses try to cover my receiving back or slot guy with a dime safety or -- heaven forbid -- a linebacker, I'm going to exploit that matchup. 

 

Exactly... finding the mismatch and exploiting it... that's basically what any strategy or gameplan boils down to these days. It used to be "we will simply line up and out-execute you" but now more than ever NFL teams are looking for the matchups they can take advantage of, and doing just that. Although Sony Michel has been a good player for the Patriots, I would have rather seen them draft another position that high and try to find a decent RB in the middle rounds. 

 

 

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23 minutes ago, GoPats said:

Although Sony Michel has been a good player for the Patriots, I would have rather seen them draft another position that high and try to find a decent RB in the middle rounds. 

 

Michel has definitely been good, when healthy. The question is more about how long he'll last, and what kind of value he provides above a less costly RB. He's fit that offense well, though.

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On 1/18/2019 at 11:13 AM, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

 

It's about balance.  An effective passing game opens up opportunities for the running game and vice versa.  Peyton used to exploit defenses using 3 WR sets with Harrison, Wayne, Stokely, and Clark as receiving threats, then hand it off to Edge on a draw for an 8-yd gain.  Then he could play-action to Edge to great effect.

 

The Rams show a passing look with 3 WRs, then Goff play-actions to an elite RB in Gurley, then hits a WR downfield.  The LBs are between a rock and a hard place because it looks like a pass, then it looks like a run, then it ends up being a pass.

 

The Cowboys had a great rushing attack that was effective because of the threat of Witten and Dez, so they could do the same thing with play-action to Murray or Zeke, then find a wide-open Witten or Dez.  Their rushing attack wasn't as effective without a receiving threat until they got Cooper this year, and restored balance to their offense.

 

So, instead of a elite RB, we need another really good WR along side of TY

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18 hours ago, Superman said:

 

Michel has definitely been good, when healthy. The question is more about how long he'll last, and what kind of value he provides above a less costly RB. He's fit that offense well, though.

 

They have to start using him more in the passing game. Right now, if he's in the game, it's almost a dead giveaway that they're throwing. I've heard BB hates using rookie RBs in the passing game mainly because they need to learn blitz pick-up. But it's too easy to key on it for other teams. 

 

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4 hours ago, lollygagger8 said:

 

So, instead of a elite RB, we need another really good WR along side of TY

 

If I had to choose, absolutely I'd rather have a really good WR than an elite RB. 

 

Truth be told, I want elite players at every position, but since part of building a sustained contender is resource management, that's not possible. 

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13 minutes ago, GoPats said:

 

They have to start using him more in the passing game. Right now, if he's in the game, it's almost a dead giveaway that they're throwing. I've heard BB hates using rookie RBs in the passing game mainly because they need to learn blitz pick-up. But it's too easy to key on it for other teams. 

 

 

Not throwing, right?

 

By the way, if what you're saying has been holding true recently, I fully expect to see a bunch of play action when Michel is in the game next week.

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@GoPats

 

And here's the main question I have about the SB. Can the Pats stop the Rams run game from dime/nickel packages, and can the Rams throw against the Pats in those same packages? It feels like the Rams main strength is the Pats main defensive issue.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Superman said:

 

By the way, if what you're saying has been holding true recently, I fully expect to see a bunch of play action when Michel is in the game next week.

 

LOL, I sort of hope so... that would be an interesting game-plan twist. He was a good receiver in college but I don't think they even threw the ball to him 10 times this year. 

 

4 hours ago, Superman said:

@GoPats

 

And here's the main question I have about the SB. Can the Pats stop the Rams run game from dime/nickel packages, and can the Rams throw against the Pats in those same packages? It feels like the Rams main strength is the Pats main defensive issue.

 

 

 

 

It's a good question.

 

During the regular season this was a major weakness... they've improved in this area since the loss at Pittsburgh. Obviously game flow comes into play - they got out ahead of both San Diego and KC, making both offenses a little one-dimensional. If they play from ahead, defending the run becomes a lot easier. 

 

 

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32 minutes ago, GoPats said:

 

LOL, I sort of hope so... that would be an interesting game-plan twist. He was a good receiver in college but I don't think they even threw the ball to him 10 times this year. 

 

 

It's a good question.

 

During the regular season this was a major weakness... they've improved in this area since the loss at Pittsburgh. Obviously game flow comes into play - they got out ahead of both San Diego and KC, making both offenses a little one-dimensional. If they play from ahead, defending the run becomes a lot easier. 

 

 

 

Michel isn't exactly James White -- who makes me very envious of the Pats; I liked him as a prospect, he tore up the Senior Bowl, and he's been even better as a receiver than I expected -- but he can catch out of the backfield, and since the Pats do so much from running formations, this might be the game where we see a team go play action on basically every pass attempt. Either it works, and I'm proven right, or it fails miserably, and I get to see the Pats' offense crash and burn in the SB.

 

Also, can the Rams' defense stop the Pats' offense when they're in 12 personnel? Or will the Pats' use a lot of 3WR sets to pick on the Rams' inconsistent corners -- Peters (better lately, but he's had some rough games) and Robey-Coleman?

 

Small sample size against the Chiefs, but they ran effectively out of 11 personnel also. They just didn't do a good job throwing out of that personnel, especially in the first three quarters. 

 

 

The Rams live in 11 personnel. If they can't throw effectively in the SB from that package, they're toast, bottom line. 

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2 hours ago, Superman said:

Or will the Pats' use a lot of 3WR sets to pick on the Rams' inconsistent corners -- Peters (better lately, but he's had some rough games) and Robey-Coleman?

 

You know after the Robey-Coleman no-call against the Saints, he's going to be called for PI against Edelman in the slot like ten times in the SB...

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14 hours ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

You know after the Robey-Coleman no-call against the Saints, he's going to be called for PI against Edelman in the slot like ten times in the SB...

 

Ugh...

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21 hours ago, Superman said:

 

Michel isn't exactly James White -- who makes me very envious of the Pats; I liked him as a prospect, he tore up the Senior Bowl, and he's been even better as a receiver than I expected -- but he can catch out of the backfield, and since the Pats do so much from running formations, this might be the game where we see a team go play action on basically every pass attempt. Either it works, and I'm proven right, or it fails miserably, and I get to see the Pats' offense crash and burn in the SB.

 

Also, can the Rams' defense stop the Pats' offense when they're in 12 personnel? Or will the Pats' use a lot of 3WR sets to pick on the Rams' inconsistent corners -- Peters (better lately, but he's had some rough games) and Robey-Coleman?

 

Small sample size against the Chiefs, but they ran effectively out of 11 personnel also. They just didn't do a good job throwing out of that personnel, especially in the first three quarters. 

 

 

The Rams live in 11 personnel. If they can't throw effectively in the SB from that package, they're toast, bottom line. 

 

I feel like KC sort of gave up on the run earlier than they should have. Again, goes back to game-flow. The Patriots were only up 14 on the scoreboard but it was so one-sided to that point that it felt like the Chiefs were sort of panicking a bit. They put up points but they did it quickly and that wore down their already-tired D even more. 

 

I think the Patriots are going to basically dare the Rams to throw. Make Goff beat you with long drives. Stop the run, defend against the big play, and make him go down the field in 12, 13, 14 play drives. 

 

One thing I do like about the match-up is the NE secondary on the Rams' receivers. They'll be very physical at the line, like they were with Tyreek Hill, to try to throw their timing all off. Plus they know Cooks pretty well so they should have some ideas as to how to get into his head a bit. 

 

 

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