Positional groupings: No clear answer

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
11:00
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots in their 29-26 overtime win over the Jets, and analyzing what it might mean:

2 WR/2 TE/1 RB -- 40 of 80
3 WR/1 TE/1 RB -- 24 of 80
1 WR/3 TE/1 RB -- 13 of 80
3 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 3 of 80*

(Includes penalties.)
* Fullback was tight end Michael Hoomanawanui


ANALYSIS: While the multiple tight end groupings were used the majority of the time, the Patriots never truly settled into a rhythm when it came to a matchup in which they felt they had a clear advantage, and part of the credit for that has to go to the Jets' defense. Perhaps the most clear example of this came after the Patriots' best drive of the game -- the seven-play, 58-yard touchdown march in the first quarter. On that drive, the Patriots ran the first six snaps out of the 1 WR/3 TE/1 RB grouping, and when the Jets matched with their base defense, the offense went no-huddle to keep them on the field and carved them up. Yet from that point on, whenever the Patriots went to that 1 WR/3 TE/1 RB grouping, the Jets stuck with their nickel package. The numbers dictate that the Patriots' 1 WR/3 TE/1 RB package should be able to be able to run on that lighter defense -- but it couldn't. Credit to the Jets for making the adjustment (something the Bills didn't do on Sept. 30) and making life harder on the Patriots by forcing them to try something else. The Patriots kept trying things, but never truly settled into any rhythm. Although the numbers in the running game looked good (31 carries for 131 yards, 4.2 avg.), they didn't seem to reflect the way the game unfolded. When the Patriots truly needed the running game to settle things down, they couldn't necessarily count on it. Again, credit to the Jets for that. At the same time, part of it is lack of execution by the Patriots.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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