Mike Vrabel has been thoroughly impressed with the New England Patriots’ run blocking this season. And not just from their formidable offensive line.
The Tennessee Titans head coach on Wednesday said the Patriots have the NFL’s best collection of blocking receivers.
“Their receivers are probably the best blocking wide receivers in the league,” Vrabel said on a conference call with New England reporters ahead of Sunday’s Patriots-Titans matchup. “When your leading receiver is your best blocker, that makes for a good combination.”
N’Keal Harry has earned plaudits for his blocking prowess in recent weeks, but Vrabel was referring to Jakobi Meyers, who both leads the Patriots in receptions (54 through 11 games) and isn’t afraid to throw his slender frame around in the run game.
“Absolutely,” Vrabel said. “He goes in there, he’s fearless. And Harry’s a good blocker as a receiver, but Jakobi Meyers goes in there, and he’s going in there with a purpose.”
Meyers’ blocks aren’t always successful — he’s the Patriots’ third-lowest-graded run blocker by Pro Football Focus — but he doesn’t lack tenacity in that area. In last Thursday’s 25-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons, he laid blocks that helped spring Damien Harris for a 17-yard gain and Rhamondre Stevenson for 21 yards.
“We tell all of our receivers: If they’re not going to block, then it’s going to be hard for them to stay on the field in the passing game,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels recently said.
Few teams have been able to slow the Patriots’ rushing attack of late. They’re averaging 151.8 rushing yards per game during their current five-game win streak, third-most in the NFL during that span behind the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts.
On Sunday, they’ll face a Titans defense that has kept its opponent below 100 rushing yards in each of the last six games and six of the last nine.
“They’re running the football over the last five weeks better than anybody else in the league, or as good as anybody else,” Vrabel said of the Patriots.