DOB: AUGUST 24, 1986
There is no doubt New England needs an upgrade at the running back position. Dion Lewis is an undoubted playmaker whenever he touches the ball, but I don’t want that to be 20 times a game, and LeGarrette Blount did average 4.3 yards on 165 carries, but with him, there are too many one to two yard gains, even attempts for no gain at times. I would love for New England to make a serious pitch at Matt Forte this offseason, but here in lies the problem, New England hasn’t had a legitimate star running back since the days of Corey Dillon, and that was a decade ago.
The running back position, in a traditional sense, is all but extinct in New England and because. I mean, as we all witnessed this past season, Bill Belichick believes he can put anyone back there, after Lewis and Blount went down this past season, we saw glimpses of Brandon Bolden, James White, Joey Iosefa, and Steven Jackson. Needless to say, after Lewis and Blount went down, so did the production of the running back position as a whole. The AFC Championship game should be a wake up call as all the rushing plays equated to wasted plays. Yes, the offensive line getting slapped around by Denver’s front seven had something to do with that, but not everything. Jackson was the lead back in that game and he doesn’t have the quickness or speed to get to and break through the gaps anymore.
New England should consider bringing in Arian Foster this off season. Foster, who was recently released from Houston. He is coming off a torn Achilles but reportedly, should be ready for camp and because of his vast injury history (only playing 16 games once his entire career) it’s likely he won’t be commanding the same type of coin Forte will and would also qualify as the low-risk/high-reward free agent New England typically goes after in free agency.
Free Agency Preview: Ladarius Green
Although Foster’s rushing average was horrible this past season (2.6 yards), he did manage to catch 22 balls out of the backfield and averaged 10.3 yards while doing so. I would like to believe that his low rush average was attributed to him from injury and Brian Hoyer being the quarterback of the Texans. When healthy, Foster is a force coming out of the backfield. He possess the ability to make quick reads and even quicker one-step cuts through the gap. Along with those skills, he should also have knowledge of the playbook being that he played under former Patriots’ OC Billy O’Brien the past two seasons, that could make him more valuable in the eyes of Bill Belichick.
Free Agency Preview: Mario Williams
And because you have to prepare for both the run and pass with Foster, it changes the whole dynamic of the offense. When defenses see Blount in the backfield, they equate that to the 300-plus pound Michael Williams lining up in the X-receiver spot. A passing game non-Factor, but with Foster, defenses couldn’t do that, they would have to worry about him running receiving routes out of the backfield as much as they would have to worry about him carrying the ball and making one cut through the tackle and guard for a big gain. I don’t expect Foster to come in and carry the offense the way he used to in Houston, but he could come in and split carries, and who knows, if (and that is a huge “if”) he stays healthy, he might be the best bargain back available.
Stay tuned here on Musket Fire for coverage on every twist and turn in the Patriots’ offseason.