New England Patriots: 2 running backs could bring double the trouble

Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots, with the emergence of Brandon Bolden, can now deploy three solid running backs in their backfield at any given time. But usually, they don’t use multiple running backs on the field. Why not give it a shot?

Now, using two backs is no novel idea when the team uses one of their three running backs, Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, or Bolden, with their fullback.

That would be Jakob Johnson, a pile-driving blocker who could also be utilized in other ways. But the thought here is a bit different.

New England Patriots could deploy double trouble in their backfield

One thing that may have been tried earlier, though sparingly if it was, would be to use their abundance of talented running backs with two in the backfield at the same time.

Let’s take a look at several advantages that might eventuate from such a deployment if the Patriots were to implement it.

First, it likely could come as a surprise to the defense of the team they are facing. In the immediate future, that would be against the formidable Tennessee Titans in Week 12.

This is a big game, and any edge is a plus. This is especially true against a coach, Mike Vrabel, who knows the Patriots inside and out and has had success against them as well,

Next, this backfield alignment could create severe mismatch problems for the Titans’ defense with the individual talents of the three backs mentioned previously.

New England Patriots three running backs are triple threats

Harris and Stevenson are the Patriots’ top two running backs. They are primarily inside runners who, when they get into the second level, can explode for big gains. This deuce backfield with those two lined up as potential runners creates all sorts of problems for opposing defenses.

Quarterback Mac Jones can fake to one and a hand-off or pitch to the other, or play-action to either and then find another target.

Also, both of these backs after a fake handoff can be sent wide on a screen pass while the other is held in to block since both have the size to carry out that assignment as well.

Bolden can also be teamed with one of the other two backs. A fine pass-catcher, Bolden is an even greater threat to go in motion potentially creating a mismatch on a linebacker, setting up a Jones precision pass to him in the flat or over the middle. Bolden can catch it and go.

Stevenson is also a big threat in that situation and when given space can turn a short pass into a long-gainer on any play. Again, he’s a total mismatch for many linebackers in that situation.

Creating those play-action opportunities and screen pass possibilities to each back depending on the formation will also open opportunities for the Patriots’ wide receivers and tight ends.

They can fill gaps created on the second level when linebackers and strong safeties have to commit to a back who is capable of breaking a big gainer on a screen or over the middle.

They also have to be aware that the second back can chip an onrushing lineman and then deploy as another target as well.

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And, the trump card in all this, of course, is the supercomputer-like ability of Mac Jones to assess the defense both pre-play and on the fly, and then in an instant pick out the weak spot and exploit it. He’s truly an amazing asset to have on any play with his lightning-like decision-making.

The thought of adding a true two-running back deployment at times to mix things up may just give Jones even more options and gadgets to try to flummox an opposing defense.

If so, anything new, innovative, or little-seen could possibly reap dividends even if only sprung on the defense at one or two critical times in a game. What do you think of this idea? We’d like to hear your views in the comments.