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Monday, November 15, 2010
Groupings: Balance, diversity & creativity

By Mike Reiss

When looking at the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots in their 39-26 win over the Steelers, one aspect that caught the eye was receiver Wes Welker lining up in the offensive backfield before motioning out into a more traditional receiver spot.

This was apparently one way for the Patriots to keep the Steelers' defense on its heels.

Also, on Rob Gronkowski's 9-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, tight end Alge Crumpler lined up in a lead-blocking fullback position and helped sell play-action in front of running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. On Gronkowski's first-quarter touchdown pass, quarterback Tom Brady was in the shotgun with running backs Danny Woodhead and Sammy Morris to both sides to account for a possible blitz.

Those examples seemed to highlight some outside-the-box thinking from the coaching staff, which mixed in some new packages this week, such as the 4 WR/1 RB grouping which hadn't been utilized of late.

A look at the complete breakdown:

2 WR/2 TE/1 RB -- 41 of 73 (15 first half/26 second half)
3 WR/1 TE/1 RB -- 22 of 73 (15 first half /7 second half)
1 WR/3 TE/1 RB -- 3 of 73 (2 first half/1 second half)
4 WR/1  RB -- 3 of 73 (2 first half/1 second half)
1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 3 of 73 (0 first half/3 second half)
2 WR/1 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 1 of 73 (1 first half/0 second half)