Former Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount had some choice words about the organization’s supposed inability to replace him.
The New England Patriots have rotated a legion of running backs over the last four seasons, but there finally appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of them anointing their clearcut workhorse of the future amid Damien Harris’ breakout campaign.
Before Harris’ emergence, however, it was tough sledding for the Patriots’ rushing attack. Since 2016, we’ve seen the likes of Dion Lewis, James White, Brandon Bolden, Mike Gillislee (!), Rex Burkhead and even return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson start games at the running back position for New England.
Before then, however, bruiser LeGarrette Blount manned the Patriots’ backfield for two-plus seasons and — despite his polarizing personality — most fans would admit that he did an overall exceptional job.
Well, during a recent appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, the retired 33-year-old was adamant in declaring that the Patriots haven’t found an adequate replacement for him since he left as a free agent after the 2016 campaign.
Blount’s comments might come off as delusional, but he honestly might have a point. After all, he compiled 1,161 rushing yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns during his final season with the Patriots in 2016. His consistency and punishing rushing style really helped keep the offense grooving during Tom Brady’s four-game suspension to start the year.
As crazy as it sounds, that marks the last time the Patriots had a 1,000-yard rusher. He was also impressive the previous season, racking up 703 rushing yards and six scores on 4.3 yards per attempt in just 12 games (six starts).
To add some context, let’s take a look at New England’s leading rushers in the three seasons following Blount’s departure:
- 2017: Dion Lewis – 896 yards (5.0 YPC) and six touchdowns
- 2018: Sony Michel – 831 yards (4.5 YPC) and six touchdowns
- 2019: Sony Michel – 912 yards (3.7 YPC) and seven touchdowns
It goes without saying that Michel has come the closest in terms of replacing Blount as a dependable starter in the backfield, but his stock has plummeted in significant fashion since his promising rookie season in 2018.
Again, if you were to use the term replacement loosely, the Patriots have obviously been able to carve out production from stopgap options and draft picks. However, none of their running backs have been able to mirror Blount’s effectiveness as both an early down workhouse and red zone weapon, and it killed the Pats in the Super Bowl against Blount’s Eagles in February 2018.
We hate to feed into Blount’s ego, but that’s simply the reality of what the Patriots’ backfield has looked like over the last four seasons. Let’s hope that Harris flips this narrative upside down in due time.