The New England Patriots are no different. All pundits have been able to talk about for weeks now are the problems at the quarterback position; the NFL lines by MyBookie aptly manifest this bias.
However, for the Patriots, the running back position has been even more of a problem than the quarterback, attracting all sorts of uncertainty about the team’s future. The Patriots are not in any real danger at the moment, and they have a few decent options on hand.
LeGarrette Blount’s late hip injury created some complications early on, though he was still re-signed in the offseason, this after missing his second 1,000-yard season. There was a lot of talk about the role Dion Lewis would play and his ability to fill the Patriots’ gaps; however, those considerations had to wait because Lewis was still working his way back from surgery at the time.
Luckily for the Patriots, James White proved to be a worthy replacement, especially at the close of 2015; the fact that he was only in his second year in the league and could do with a little more experience didn’t completely debilitate his ability to perform.
In a short while, the Patriots will enter what could be their toughest four-game stretch of the year, facing off against three winning opponents, so the issue of running back cannot be ignored. The team’s 10-2 record proves that they are still in top fighting form.
And they have a decent number of options for the running back position to choose from. The Patriots’ 26-10 victory over the Rams on Sunday gave all three running backs ample opportunity to showcase their abilities.
Blount, in particular, truly shined, exciting Patriots fans with a 43-yard touchdown. By delivering the game’s first score, Blount was able to immediately force the Rams into a corner they spent the entire game struggling to escape.
The Patriots have always ranted about the importance of starting fast, and Blount did just that. He got the ball rolling and his teammates built upon that momentum. 2016 has already proven to be Blount’s most productive season for the Patriots (957 yards and 13 touchdowns so far).
If he continues along his current trajectory, he just might exceed his career-best.
Lewis was placed on the active list on November 13th. The Sunday game gave him his second start. His knee didn’t elicit any problems and he looked pretty comfortable on the field.
For White, the Sunday game was his fourth straight opportunity to play and he didn’t disappoint. The Patriots definitely have a lot of depth at the running back position, a reversal of their previous situation.
Coach Bill Belichick is probably going to push to take advantage of the depth in this area, hopefully to the benefit of the Patriots. The Patriots have to make some adjustments to account for Rob Gronkowski’s absence.
Strengthening the running back position, and taking advantage of the new depth here, could go a long way in preparing the Patriots to successfully overcome their upcoming four-game stretch.