Running back Stevan Ridley spent most of the 2013 season in the doghouse. If there is one thing that Bill Belichick cannot stand, it is being careless with the ball, and Bill believed that Ridley was exactly that. For the second straight season, the running back out of Louisiana State University put the ball on the ground four times. He fumbled once his rookie season.
Fumbling can be deadly to an offense. It is the quickest, and sloppiest way to lose momentum, as well as possession. However, can a player work through it and be a productive asset to a championship team? Absolutely. The Patriots and Belichick found that out themselves. Fan favorite, and key piece to three Super Bowl wins, and five Super Bowl appearances Kevin Faulk had a fumbling problem. He fumbled three or more times four times in his career, including a career high six in 2000. He did not see the doghouse like Ridley has recently.
Let’s go outside of the organization. Adrian Peterson. He is considered by many to be the best running back in the NFL. Peterson opened his career with four, nine, seven fumbles in his first three seasons respectively. The past two seasons has seen him fumble four and five times respectively.
Jamaal Charles has fumbled 19 times in six seasons.
Matt Forte has fumbled 16 times in six seasons.
Those three players right there will be three out of the first four picks of your fantasy football draft this season, guaranteed.
Am I saying Ridley is as good as those players? No. Well in the case of Kevin Faulk, yes, absolutely. However, that is not to say that he could not be as productive and compete as one of the best backs in the league. He has shown explosiveness, quickness, and the ability to break tackles.
Yes, Ridley needs to hold onto the ball; but is Belichick to blame to an extent? The coach has shown little to no patience with the young running back. Some players need confidence to succeed. Ridley has not been given an ounce of confidence in his time in New England and it has shown, as he continues to put the ball on the ground. To a point, you need to accept the fumbles and stick with your guy. Ridley should be the guy. He has proven that he can be a feature back. In 2012, he rushed for 1,263 and 12 touchdowns. That’s a feature back if I’ve even seen one.
Does Ridley really have a fumbling problem, or do we all think he does because Bill makes it a story by benching him whenever he puts it on the ground?
The Vikings have stuck with Peterson. The Chiefs have stuck with Charles. The Bears have stuck with Forte. They are the best running backs in the league.
As for the championship factor, since none of those three teams have won with those guys at running back, it is safe to say that their fumbling is not the reason they have not won. Look at Kevin Faulk. He was not even a three-down back and he still fumbled as much as one, and the Patriots were able to win three Super Bowls with him.
So think about it. Should Bill Belichick be more patient and show some confidence in Ridley? If he did, could we see that running back we saw in 2012 and have one of the best backs in the league? I think so. In Bill We Trust? Yes, but come on, Bill; give him more of a chance.