The New England Patriots have found their workhorse in the rushing attack of Stevan Ridley, who has now taken it upon himself to relieve some of the pressure from Tom Brady’s throwing arm and put some of the work on his shoulders by carrying the ball up the field for more than fifteen times a game. Ridley, who became more of a noticeable figure last year, has become the featured running back in New England and has done his fair share in helping the offense become more productive and successful this year. Is Ridley ready for his new prime role in rushing for one of football’s most powerful franchises, or is a 15+ carry workload too much for the young rusher?
Last week, the Patriots demolished the underachieving St. Louis Rams in London, 45-7. In that outstanding effort, Ridley ran exactly 15 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. This game was one of Ridley’s stand out performances, echoing such performances he gave in Weeks 4 and 5 against Buffalo and Denver respectively where he eclipsed 100 yards, but other than that Ridley hasn’t exactly put up the big numbers he’s expected to have put up. With his standout game in London, Ridley is now being considered a running back who should garner more and more carries per game, but can Ridley step up and play better than his usual 30 or 60 yard games?
Ridley is still a young talent blossoming in the NFL, and with this being his second full season as the Patriots featured back, he still has a lot to learn and can certainly bring a lot of talent to a team that’s offense has seen it go from elite to almost mediocre. Now, this season alone, Ridley has carried the ball over 15 times in 7 out of his 8 games played so far, and he’s totaled 716 yards and 5 touchdowns to boot. These numbers have been pretty solid thus far, but out of those 7 games where Ridley has carried 15 or more times, he’s only eclipsed 100 yards 4 times. Are these numbers good enough for a featured running back that deserves to carry a majority of the rushing workload? As far as numbers go, it seems Ridley is up to the task.
With their bye week coming up, the Patriots are hopeful to get some rest under their belts before they head into the second half of their season, which doesn’t appear to be too difficult. The Pats next two opponents should give Ridley prime opportunities to strut his stuff, with games coming up against the struggling Bills and the turned around Colts. The remainder of the season will see New England battle sub-par teams that they should easily handle, including a few division rivalry matches against the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins remaining. With the exception of going up against the Houston Texans in Week 14, which should prove to give Ridley a run for his money, the Pats could be cruising to the playoffs. Nonetheless, there’s still a whole half season to play, and with plenty of shiny opportunities for young Stevan Ridley to improve, he can show that he’s the right guy to line up behind Tom Brady.
All in all, Stevan Ridley has proven time and time again this season that he’s capable of carrying the majority of the ball as the Pats go to rusher. He’s had his outstanding games and he’s had games that shouldn’t even be remembered, but this young speedster is still aiming to make a name for himself, and one day Stevan Ridley could become a household name in the NFL.