New England Patriots RB Stevan Ridley seems under-appreciated, and the Patriots need to realize that going with a committee at running back only makes sense if you lack a viable feature back. If the Patriots don’t think they have a viable feature back in Stevan Ridley, then they might have some more fundamental problems on their hands. The fumbles are there, yes. But think about how many times Ridley ran the ball last year, and think of how much of a leash other, talented backs are given for fumbles. Listen, I’d much rather have a talented back like Ridley who has some fumbling issues, as opposed to a back like BenJarvus Green-Ellis who has very little natural talent but never fumbles. The Patriots need to realize that Stevan Ridley is a star on this team, and there a reason why he ran for 1,263 yards last season. Having a feature back gives a team a lot of balance on offense, and Ridley is one of the most important players on the team.
That last statement seems like hyperbole, but I think it holds true when looking at the past two games. The Patriots pathetic offensive display against the Cincinnati Bengals saw the team attempt just 17 carries with running backs. While they did average a solid yards per carry, they had no legitimate goal-line back, and neither LeGarrette Blount nor Brandon Bolden are as consistent or talented as Ridley. They are both solid players who have roles on the team, but neither of them can be trusted to run the ball 20 times in a game.
Stevan Ridley didn’t even play in yesterday evening’s huge win over the New Orleans Saints until late in the first quarter, and I think this is the last time the Patriots allow Ridley to wade on the bench. The man was simply fantastic, as he ran through the Saints defense to the tune of 96 rushing yards on 20 carries. He averaged 4.8 yards per rush and had two second quarter touchdowns that were vital. Ridley’s one-yard TD was especially important, and both rushes came within the five yard line. Why were they so important? Well, Ridley is the only running back on the Patriots roster who can be trusted with those kinds of plays.
Without Ridley, I think the Patriots are a 4-2 team and not a 5-1 team. What a way for Stevan Ridley to make a statement on his importance on the team with yesterday’s performance, and I think we should continue to see him play at a high level this year. And please Bill Belichick, don’t bench the guy for a fumble.