Sometimes it takes a while for coaches to come around. For some reason, they don’t like players that clearly flash on film. This was not the case yesterday, as New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels finally went with some of the guys that he should’ve been going with all along.
Let’s start with the most obvious: running back Stevan Ridley. Ridley has basically been a non-factor all season long. Some of that had to do with his own ineffectiveness, and some had to do with McDaniels not using him that much. McDaniels finally came around though, allowing Ridley to lead all Patriots running backs in snaps and carries. Ridley rewarded his offensive coordinator with 20 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
What was more impressive was Ridley’s burst. He hit holes and he hit them hard. The burst has been there all season long for Ridley, but the holes have not. When the young running back finally got holes to run through and space to work with, he hit them with a decisive punch. LaGarrette Blount might be able to decisively hit holes as well, but he does not possess the burst that Ridley does. That’s what sets Ridley apart from his peers.
The other change was a little more subtle until you read the box score. Wide receiver Aaron Dobson led all Patriots wide receivers in snaps, receptions and receiving yards. A lot of those catches and yards came in the first half when Dobson was racking up targets from Tom Brady. Almost everybody will remember Dobson’s critical fourth-down drop that could have lost the game, but that doesn’t erase the fact that he was the Patriots’ most consistent receiver yesterday.
So there you have it. Young players are getting to play, and the offense looked pretty good. Hopefully both of these things are a trend moving forward.
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.