Patriots Best Weapon is… A Running Back?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As the days get colder, snowier, and more miserable I’ve never felt older. Sore, tired, creaky. Just getting out of bed each day is a sad combination of pain and a miracle.  With all that said, I’m younger than Tom Brady. He’s been a pro for most of my adult life.

So as we grow older, we need our shortcuts. We’ve been around long enough to know how to cut corners and still get by. I guess in sports, this can be a  kind of safety blanket.

For 2 years now I’ve been convinced that James White is that safety blanket for Brady. By the eye test the offense runs smoother when White is on the field. Maybe it’s because he’s used during the 2-minute offense, or maybe because he’s on the field when Brady spreads it out.

To me it really seems that White is the best choice when you don’t want to seem predicable.  But what do the numbers say?

So I did what nerds do, I made a spreadsheet. I included the top 4 in touches. And they’re also 4 of the top 5 in total yards, with Dorsett 3rd over Burkhead.

In this spreadsheet I listed some relevant stats. Snaps, rush attempts, targets, reception, catch %, rush yards, rec yards, total yards, rushing first downs, receiving first downs, total first downs, rushing TDs, receiving TDs, total TDs.

I then ranked them in how many categories they came in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.

Not very scientific but here’s what I see. Edelman is the clear leader in receiving stats, and Sony in rushing. No surprises there. But White came in 2nd in 9 categories. Edelman is 1st in 8, but that’s because he’s the only receiver on the list. But both him and Jules have 10 categories in either 1st or 2nd. It’s nice to have a great receiver but to quote a great commercial “Why not both?”.

The thing that makes White more valuable is the cornucopia of looks he can give you and the diverse ways he can contribute. I’m not gonna lie. I expected White to have more first down. And Burkhead has much higher averages than I expected.

Last year with Gronk on the roster, the Pats had the luxury to pick and choose moments with White on the field, but with no Gronk, White’s role should be elevated. Gronk is historically a tough matchup for defenses, but now that he’s gone White leaves the hardest matchup for defenses.

Brady is well known for his work ethic. He works harder than anyone else. Not to mention TB12 and his newer methods. But as we get older we need to “work smarter not harder” if we want to last. And while it’s not rocket science, having White on the field more is the smart way to go. Besides all the looks and mismatches he can give, just having that safety blanket Brady can dump off to should keep him on his feet more.

Alright, time for me to ice up.

Tags : footballjames whitenflpatriots
Michael Lavery

The author Michael Lavery

Mike has been a sports writer all across the world (wide web). Now he's a podcasters and his old pug has his own fantasy team.