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Coach Bill Belichick Explains Patriots Change in Running Game

The New England Patriots head coach shared how the running offense may operate in the upcoming season.

FOXBORO -- In his press conference prior to Day 7 of training camp, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was ... Belichickian.

It's possible that he was preemptively bracing himself for an inevitable question about the Miami Dolphins and Tom Brady - which of course he did receive.

The Patriots offense has been generating some buzz for its rumored switch from a traditional under-center power running team to a Kyle Shanahan- or Sean McVay-style zone scheme. After the first two days of padded practice reflected a lot more outside zone runs than the team usually calls, this conjecture seems to have merit.

We asked Belichick about his approach to outside zone runs:

"First two days of padded practice here we saw a lot of outside zone. What are some of the keys you are looking as what comprises a successful outside zone?"

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Belichick didn't articulate much on the Xs and Os of outside zone as we had hoped, but did provide some interesting insight into the increased presence of zone runs throughout camp.

"Just depends on what defense they're in and what formation we're in and things like that. When you're putting in one play, you emphasize and run that and then you go to something else and then you emphasize that. So, just happened to work out the sequence that we put in the zone runs first, but we've put in plenty of gap plays and we'll run those, too."

Belichick's response almost countered this narrative of a philosophical shift in the team's running approach, citing the order of installment as the reason instead. This response definitely led to some perplexed discussion in the media tent afterward.

In fact, when practice started, it was evident that Belichick's comments weren't smokescreen -- the New England offense ran a host of run plays, including split zone, gap runs, outside zone, and inside zone. Although, notably absent is still the traditional power running that has more or less defined the Patriots offense since 2018.

Regardless, the inefficacy of the offense has continued to be a persistent issue since the first day of training camp. It's clear that the team has a lot of work to do on that front, whether they do present a renovated rushing attack or stick to their old style.