Ridley has obviously had a problem with fumbling the football, having fumbled it three times in the last three games. That is certainly not acceptable from a running back, but hardly a reason for Ridley to be refused a spot against the Texans.
First and foremost, Ridley has been the most consistent runner for Josh McDaniels this season. He has carried the ball the most times of any Patriots running back (135) mostly because there have been games in which his talent has taken over. The overall consistency has not been what it was last season, but Ridley is still as effective.
Ridley has had a single 100 rushing yard game this season, and tallied 96 rushing yards in another. That is close to the number of 100-yard games that he had in 2012 (three). What is also noteworthy is the fact that Ridley has received 11 carries or less in five of the 10 games that he has played in this season.
We all know that Ridley hasn’t played as much because he cannot consistently hold onto the football. What Belichick and some Patriots fans fail to recognize is that Ridley is still very young. He is just 24-years old and in his third season. This season would only be the second season that Ridley could even be considered the full-time starter, which means that his reps have been very limited in his career so far.
Young players make mistakes. It is not until a player’s age-27 or age-28 season that he hits his prime and defines what he is truly going to be in his career. Ridley is still a couple of years removed from that, so he is still learning. It is utterly foolish for Belichick to try and bury this young man. The only way for Ridley to get out of this funk is for him to play.
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.