New England Patriots: Three Positive and Negative Takeaways from Sunday's Win

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Sep 22, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) reacts during the second half of a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports


Where is Stevan Ridley?

Seriously, can anyone find this former stud running back? It’s starting to get a little worrying that he hasn’t showed up to any game yet this year after such a nice little preseason… Ridley has had as terrible a start to a year as almost any other feature running back in the NFL thus far. We first had the debacle of game versus the Bills, where he got benched in favor of Shane Vereen, who lets face it, won the job pretty handily, and would’ve started next week had he not broke his wrist, because of major fumbling issues. So after that game, he compiled a mediocre performance against the Jets, but then again the whole offense was incredibly mediocre. Now this game, where he stunk it up against the Bucs save for a nice run here or there. Brandon Bolden was a much better option for most of the game, and heck, even Blount looked better at times. Something is wrong with Ridley, and it might have to do with the inconsistency in the offense. Tom Brady and his rookie receivers only just started to figure things out, so with teams starting to give them a bit more respect, maybe this will open things up for Ridley inside. But despite even that, the way that Ridley has been playing so far is not acceptable, especially coming from a back who posted a 1000+ yard season last year, and looked amazing doing it.

Rush Defense Was Rather Shaky.

The Patriots defense played very well today, but it didn’t mean they had some bad moments. The rush defense has looked rather shaky during these past two games, after shutting down CJ Spiller in week one versus the Bills. Doug Martin didn’t break any big runs off, which is a victory in itself, but still had a nice day rushing the ball 20 times for 88 yards, even with Josh Freeman breaking down in the second half. These numbers could’ve been quite a bit worse had Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman not thrown the game away on a number of very questionable decisions. It was surprising not to see the Bucs ride their star running back in this game, especially the way the Patriots defense had been ball hawing. The offensive line had gotten great pushes on seemingly ever play, and had they committed more to him, Martin could’ve kept them in this game. Versus the Falcons may not seem like a huge deal with Steven Jackson, but Jacquizz Rogers had himself a pretty nice day making defenders miss, so this is going to have to be fixed, or at least patched up in time for next game.

No More Blount Returns, for the Love of God!

This is one area that has no reasonable answer. Why on earth is big LeGarrette Blount returning kicks? It’s maddening at this point, the guy has little to no elusiveness and doesn’t have great field vision when returning kicks, as evident by his 20 yard average on kickoff returns this year. Belichick has a reason for everything, and I know we have to trust in one of the greatest coaches of all time, but you have proven stars like Leon Washington, and if that’s not what you want, why not Josh Boyce? The speedy little receiver from TCU needs to be involved in the offense because of his game changing speed, and if he isn’t ready for reps with the offense in a game yet, why not include him on returns? Maybe he makes a bunch of nice runs, and even busts one. It’s better than Blount stumbling around all over the field.

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