The New England Patriots spent the offseason implementing new elements into their offense. As the poor results throughout the preseason continued into Week 1 of the regular season, however, the unit shifted back to its old identity in Sunday’s 17-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That identity includes their usual gap/power-run scheme. After implementing more zone-run schemes throughout the offseason, New England hammered Pittsburgh on the ground with their traditional style.
The results were better, as New England rumbled for 133 yards (4.8 yards per carry) against Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defensive front after rushing for just 78 yards (3.5 YPC) against Miami.
“There are plenty of things we’ve scrapped,” wide receiver Kendrick Bourne told reporters about the offense post-game. “Knowing what we do well at, and them knowing us, just playing to our strengths. We’re learning it well. Today you could see that.”
Besides changes on the ground, the Patriots used their personnel differently from Week 1. After relying heavily on their 12 personnel package throughout the summer and using it over 50 percent of the time against Miami, New England spent the majority of Sunday’s victory over the Steelers in 11 personnel.
As for Bourne, his snap count expectedly increased after playing just two snaps last week. However, Bourne still played the least amount of snaps out of all New England’s receivers. He saw three targets, hauling in two for 16 yards.
“I responded well,” Bourne said. “I didn’t let it get to me. I’m a team player. That’s truly what it’s about. It doesn’t matter if I get zero plays, man. If we win, we win.”
Time will tell how the Patriots plan to attack specific matchups moving forward, but Sunday’s victory was a step in the right direction from the offense and coaching staff.
“We’re not even close to where we could be,” Bourne added.