When New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen went down, many people thought that running back Stevan Ridley would get another shot to be the feature back. While he has gotten a decent amount of carries, they have been split with running backs LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden. This is simply the wrong thing to do.
Ridley is clearly the most talented running back left standing. He had a great season in 2012, but his chances have simply not been there in 2013. He was benched for fumbling against the Buffalo Bills, so his stats were skewed. The New York Jets‘ defensive linemen and linebackers did a good job of penetrating and stuffing Ridley in Week 2. And then Ridley only got 11 carries against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There is still some spring in Ridley’s step, and he showed it on some of his runs against the Buccaneers. The more Ridley gets the ball, the more he has a chance to break off some big plays. He’s just not getting his chances.
Then we have Ridley’s noticeable absence from the passing game. Everybody seems to think that Ridley is allergic to the ball unless it is being handed off to him. The man can catch the football. All quarterback Tom Brady has to do is get the ball to Ridley in space and let Ridley use his vision to make plays. But for some reason, Ridley isn’t getting a chance to catch the ball.
What has really gone unnoticed is Ridley’s pass protection. He did such a good job of it against the Bucs that Boston Globe writer Ben Volin wrote that Ridley was the “unsung hero” in the Patriots’ victory.
So it’s time for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to give Ridley a shot as a three-down running back. Ridley certainly has the talent for it. Now he just needs a chance to prove it.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.