Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Monday, December 17, 2012
Groupings: Shying away from 2 RBs

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A look at the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots in their loss to the 49ers, and analyzing what it means (small margin for error):

3 WR/1 TE/1 RB – 54 of 96
2 WR/2 TE/1 RB – 34 of 96
1 WR/3 TE/1 RB – 6 of 96
2 WR/1 TE/2 RB – 1 of 96
3 TE/1 FB/1 RB – 1 of 96

(Penalties and spikes included.)

ANALYSIS: The 49ers aren’t a big substituting defense and they matched the Patriots' primary packages with their nickel defense. So the Patriots weren’t really in any type of chess match in terms of manipulating personnel. One thought that came to mind is that the team is without TE Rob Gronkowski and has had some instability at the No. 3 receiver spot, so perhaps the thought was to integrate running backs into the passing game a bit more. The offense called on the 2 WR/1 TE/2 RB package early, with Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen on the field together, but that was the grouping in which Vereen had his fumble and it wasn’t called upon again.