When you think of the Patriots offense the names that come to mind first of those of Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. The names of the running backs are usually down the list a ways. Which makes it no surprise that when NFL.com decided to rank the backfields of every NFL team that they Patriots ranked near the bottom.
Coming in at 29, Marc Sessler said this of the Patriots running back corp:
I'm tempted to rank the Patriots higher because they always milk production out of no-namers. That said, one NFL position coach told us that he'd put New England "30 to 25" because of "too many unproven players." LeGarrette Blount has been a January hero, but he's tough to trust for an entire season. That said, the Patriots could get a 200-yard game out of Lindsay Lohan if need be.
He's not wrong. The Patriots backfield does rank near the bottom of the league on name power. Other than LeGarrette Blount, none of the other running backs have really been on the field much. Jonas Gray had that one huge game against the Colts but was pretty much a healthy scratch the rest of the season.
Then add in losing Shane Vereen and Steven Ridley in free agency and its easy to not expect much out of this group. But Patriots fans shouldn't write this group off yet. If there is one position that you can plug in no name guys and get great production out of them its the running back position.
You only have to look back a couple of seasons to see how the Patriots coaching staff handles this type of situation. After the 2012 season, leading rushers Ben Jarvis-Green Ellis and Danny Woodhead both left in free agency. creating a huge void in terms of production. Enter unproven backs Vereen and Ridley. Once they were given their shot, both Vereen and Ridley became two solid and productive backs. Yeah, yeah, I know about Ridley's fumbles and how everyone was glad to see him go, but the fact is Ridley was the best pure runner the Patriots have had in years. And with both running backs working under their rookie contracts, it lead to a lot of production at a great value.
Now going into the 2015 season, the Patriots will look to repeat the process. Blount is already a known asset. Gray has shown promise in his limited amount of work and Travaris Cadet should be able to step right into Shane Vereen's old role. Tyler Gaffney and Dion Lewis are unproven yet have upside to them.
While the 2015 running back corp may rank low before the season, this is the way the team usually treats the position and its worked for them before. So as the saying goes, if it isn't broken, then don't fix it.
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