New England Patriots: 5 observations from week 8 win over Chargers

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29: Cassius Marsh
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29: Cassius Marsh /
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FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 29: Dion Lewis
FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 29: Dion Lewis /

Running backs galore

The Patriots utilized four different running backs in all sorts of situations today. Each back was effective in his own way, and the usage of multiple backs kept the defense off balance.

Now, if you’ve ever seen a New England Patriots game before, you’ll know that this is no anomaly. Starting a Patriots running back in fantasy football in essentially playing Russian Roulette, because there’s a chance you’re committing cyber-managerial suicide.

Today, however, the Pats backs truly did it all. Dion Lewis led all rushers with 15 rushes for 44 yards, while Mike Gillislee rushed 11 times for 34 yards. Rex Burkhead carried the ball 4 times for 15 yards, and James White notched 1 carry for 2 yards.

On the receiving end of things, the stats were reversed. Burkhead led all receivers with 7 receptions, and White led all receivers with 85 receiving yards. Lewis got in on the action as well, recording 2 catches for 10 yards.

The running backs also picked up blitzes very well today. Tom Brady used some fancy footwork to navigate the pocket, but his pocket integrity was due in part to blocking from his RBs and James Develin.

Another thing, which I’ll lump in with the running backs observation, is the flea flicker call. Nothing gets the juices flowing for yours truly quite like a flea flicker. When the Red Burkhead stopped and gave Brady that look… oooooh weeee!

Seriously though, I love the flea flicker play call. It may not have worked this time, but using a trick play to spread the field and give Brandin Cooks a chance? Don’t mind if I do.

Admittedly, the decision to throw the deep ball into double coverage was questionable. If you’ve read this column before, you’ll know that I don’t like to question what Brady does. But when Cooks is covered like white on rice on a paper airplane in a snowstorm, maybe look somewhere else.

If the Patriots can continue to utilize their four headed backfield in creative ways, it will improve both the run game and open things up in the passing game. The 40-year-old quarterback did a really good job of using his RBs as receivers today (as he always does), and it helped open up a lot of opportunities for the offense.