Monday, August 15, 2011

Breaking Down The Pats: Running Backs.

(c) Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America

The Patriots not only bring back 4 out of their 5 running backs from last season, but they also bring in two rookies that could work nicely with this offense.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a 1,000 yard rusher and Top 3 in the league in Rushing TDs. Expect him to continue as the Pats' "feature back", although I wouldn't expect him to put up the same numbers. His carries will most likely take a hit as this three-headed monster just grew even more heads.

With Danny Woodhead filling in nicely for Kevin Faulk last season, there's no way that a guy gives you nearly 1,000 total yards in 14 games... then just steps back into a backup role. That being said, if Kevin Faulk makes this team I guarantee he see's some time. Between the two of them there's a lot of interesting schemes that could be put to use. Both can motion out as a slot receiver, both can catch out of the backfield, both can be effective in the running game.

Then there's Sammy Morris. Despite only rushing for 56 yards on 20 carries ALL season, Sammy could have had his most effective season as a New England Patriot. In the late stages of his career, Morris has accepted a role as the Patriots de facto Full Back. The 10 year AFC East Veteran played in all 16 Games, was the lead rusher in I-Form packages, and going into this season looks at himself as a mentor (along with Faulk) for what is a very young RB group.

Up next is the first of two rookies. Shane Vereen was picked in the 2nd round of this year's NFL Draft. At Cal Vereen was a shifty back with excellent hands catching out of the backfield. I don't know how much Shane will contribute his rookie year with Woodhead and Faulk ahead of him, but if the kid get's on the field expect him to contribute big time in the passing game.

Last is Stevan Ridley, the 2nd of New England's rookie running backs. Coming out of college Ridley was considered a downhill runner with average speed and below average hands. In his first preseason game Stevan caught 7 balls for 1 TD and rushed for 2 more. Ridley not only showed the ability to elude tackles, but he also showed the ability two run through them. Maybe I may be over-analyzing his one performance, but it seemed like Stevan could easily be this team's 2nd leading ball carrier.

After becoming a very pass-heavy offense over the years, this team seems to be undergoing a change. Much like the tight ends last year, and the wide receivers in 2007, The Patriots have looked at what they have and decided it's time to rebuild. The Law Firm may see a drop in production, but New England's running backs will undoubtedly have a much greater impact than they did in years past.


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