Stevan Ridley reached the 1000 yard plateau during Sunday’s win
When the New England Patriots traded for Corey Dillon in 2004, plenty of people saw it as a game-changer for the New England Patriots. Despite the fact that Tom Brady was still young and not yet TOM BRADY, the Patriots offense leaned a little too heavily on the passing game. Antowain Smith was the team’s leading rusher, and he didn’t rush for more than 700 yards. The Patriots needed someone that would help balance the offense, and Corey Dillon was that guy rushing for over 1600 yards in 2004 and opening up the play-action game in the offense. It gave Tom Brady a new dynamic in the offense and it is a big reason that a lot of Patriots’ fans still see that Patriots team as the greatest one ever.
Corey Dillon was a known commodity when the Patriots traded for him in 2004. There was nothing of the sort for the 2012 New England Patriots. They let their most consistent runner in the past five seasons, Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis, walk in free-agency and the running game was one of the biggest questions coming into training camp. There were fans that wanted them to trade for the disgruntled Maurice Jones-Drew and the team brought in former Colt Joseph Addai to compete. Not a lot of Patriots’ fans had a lot of faith in the running game.
After Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans the mood around the Patriots running game changed. Stevan Ridley rushed 125 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries and looked consistent doing it. It was not one big run that gave him the statistics that he finished with on the day. Every time he touched the ball, he quickly found the hole, made his cut into, and drove his way forward to pick up yards on the play. Despite the fact that Bill Belichick has notoriously been awful about giving backs consistent carries, Ridley deserved it. His style of running quickly reminded Patriots fans of Corey Dillon and that “Best Patriots team ever”.
In fact, Stevan Ridley is a reason that this team is entering that debate. Of course , a lot of that depends on how the rest of the season plays out for them, but all the signs point to a similar team. A balanced offense led by a 1000 yard rusher, an opportunistic defense that makes plays when it matters most, and one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time spearheading the offense.
And none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the emergence of Stevan Ridley in the offense. On Sunday, he reached the 1000 yard threshold of the season. It has provided a balance to the Patriots offense that they haven’t had in quite some time. For years, Patriots fans wondered why the team didn’t draft a running back in the first round in order to find balance in the offense. Turned out it was a third round pick that would fix the Patriots balance woes.