Bedard: Patriots lacking physicality, polish as run game lags behind to start season

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(Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Go through the NFL rankings, where the 2-0 Patriots with a 76-3 cumulative score to this point are top 10 in just about every category, and it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.

Team rushing
25. New England 3.25 yards per attempt

Even last year, the Patriots' vaunted rush offense that "carried the team," only finished 20th in the league in yards per attempt. But at least the average was a respectable 4.26 yards. Last year's Patriots lived off volume, as their 127.3 per-game average ranked fifth in the league. This season they've dropped to 13th (112.5).

So what's going on with the rush offense? There are several factors why the Patriots are sluggish on the ground to this point, and the first quarter against the Dolphins kind of brought it all home as New England sputtered to 33 yards on 10 carries (10 coming on one play), while Tom Brady completed all five of his pass attempts.

Let's go through those plays and illustrate the issues that also show the Patriots aren't all that far away from getting their groove back.

Play No. 1: Michel right guard for 3 yards

At the snap, former Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick drops into the box, giving Miami eight players around the line of scrimmage. The Patriots have seven, with TE Matt LaCosse and FB James Develin. That means Miami