Counting down the top 25 players in the AFC East, one player at a time, one day at a time.
Why Stevan Ridley?
It's easy to forget that Patriots fans were collectively worried over losing the dependable BenJarvus Green-Ellis last offseason, and while the running game will always take a back seat in New England because of Tom Brady, only in 2012 did we finally begin to see the Patriots' running game as capable of complementing their passing game.
Traditional stats don't quite do Ridley justice. He ranked seventh in rushing yards, but only 15th in yards per attempt. Thankfully, Football Outsiders weights their stats based on opponent, and in those marks, Ridley ranked in the top 10 runners in defense-adjusted value on average, yards above replacement, and success rate.
As we all know in New England, though, a running back's duties go far beyond running the football. No one is going to confuse Ridley for Patriots legend Kevin Faulk, but according to Pro Football Focus, Ridley allowed just two pressures on 47 snaps in pass protection. He wasn't used in that role very often in 2012, but that could change now that Danny Woodhead is gone (43 snaps in pass protection, three pressures allowed).
On that note, Ridley could rank higher if he were more involved in the passing game. That's where Shane Vereen comes in. The Patriots have always run a backfield by committee, and Ridley does more than his share.
Did you know?
In six games from Weeks 8 thru 14, Ridley had 108 carries for 493 yards (4.56 YPA) and six touchdowns, one touchdown in each game. With that pace for a season, he would have finished in the top five in rushing yards and No. 1 in rushing touchdowns.
Check back every morning as we reveal one player a day on our way to No. 1 in the top 25.
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