Some remember the famous “Pony Express” from Southern Methodist University. This was when Craig James and Eric Dickerson dominated the college football world.
Rumblings have indicated the Patriots will unveil their own Pony Express, due to the Chargers weak linebackers, and inabilities to cover running backs in the passing game.
The Patriots Pony
When saying pony, this means something a little different than just two running backs splitting time. A pony formation entails a two running back set, meaning some combination of Michel, White, and Burkhead.
The expectation is that the Patriots will use running back heavy sets to exploit the weaknesses in the Chargers defense.
James White & Rob Gronkowski
The Patriots have had great success this season with James White. He seemed to be a key to victory in several games for them. This leads many to key in on his involvement Sunday, as he could draw more attention from Chargers defenders. This will lead to more opportunities for Michel and Burkhead.
The beauty of the Patriots offense is the Chargers do not have the personnel to match up against the running backs and Gronkowski. Gronk had an uninspiring season, but the Chargers lack the personnel to cover both Gronk and the running backs. This could lead to either the backs or Gronk finding themselves open in Sunday’s game. The Chargers do not have four Derwin James clones at their disposal, the likely match-up with Gronk.
Danger For The Chargers Defense
With the concerns of Gronk and James White for the Chargers, the pony formations could be too much to handle. The possibility of the Patriots breaking out those two running back sets ,with the emphasis on Gronk and White, leave another running back matched up against a linebacker. The danger this Chargers defense is playing with is unprecedented.
A defensive adjustment to take care of the running backs out of the backfield would take away some of the best Chargers pass defenders. This could free up Gronk and Edelman, or even dark horse characters like Chris Hogan or Phillip Dorsett.
It is yet to be seen what the game plan will be going into the game Sunday, but the Patriots will have many ways of creating mismatches against the Chargers’ defense. Be fully prepared for the Patriots to unleash their version of the Pony Express on Sunday.
DFS Fantasy Notes
Also, for those DFS fantasy fans, I would call the Patriots running backs potential plays for this weekend. White is priced at $7,500 on FanDuel and $5,100 on DraftKings. Michel is priced at $6,600 on FanDuel and $4,700 on DraftKings. Burkhead is priced at $5,500 on FanDuel and $3,600 on DraftKings.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to message me on Twitter @maxleemcauliffe