Many suspected the worst when James White went down during the New England Patriots‘ loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and everyone’s fears were confirmed on Wednesday evening when it was reported he was expected to miss the rest of the season.
It’s an irreplaceable loss for the struggling Pats. You saw what happened when he wasn’t the same last year. He dealt with a traumatic incident with his family to start the season and then logged his lowest snap percentage since 2015.
The loss of Tom Brady and a number of other stars were obviously the biggest reason for the team’s slide, but White’s presence has always served as a security blanket. He’s played a role in bailing this offense out even with the GOAT under center.
And now, for two straight years, we won’t be seeing the usual shifty back that has made one of the best offenses in the league even more dynamic. Not to get pessimistic, but Patriots fans may never see that again.
Patriots running back James White’s best days are sadly behind him.
Do we doubt White will make a comeback? Absolutely not. He’s one of the most positive, resilient players out there. Just ask any of his current and former teammates.
But he’s a running back. The shelf life for that position as short as can be. And White will be 30 years old next season coming off a significant hip injury. The odds are stacked against him. So, while we’ll be rooting for his return to form, we just can’t sit here and guarantee that outcome. It’s always harder than it looks.
To keep the mood chippy, however, Patriots fans should use this opportunity to reminisce on White’s overall body of work and realize (again) how truly valuable he was to this franchise during the dynasty’s revival in the late 2010s.
We know he’s got two years on Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey, but did anyone expect White to best them in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns since the start of the 2015 season? Insane. He’s a third-down/passing down back! Those other guys play a majority of the snaps every single game.
“Underrated” doesn’t even begin to describe White.
And how about his playoff contributions? Would this team have two Super Bowls since 2016 because of him? It’s a worthwhile debate to have because here are his numbers from those two championship runs:
- 2016: 18 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns; seven rushes for 29 yards and two touchdowns (combined 11 first downs)
- 2018: 20 catches for 151 yards; eight rushes for 27 yards (combined 11 first downs)
His performance against the Falcons arguably should’ve won him Super Bowl MVP. And that was a real debate once upon a time. He scored three touchdowns in that game to go along with 14 catches for 110 yards and six rushes for 29 yards.
When he was underutilized in both 2015 and 2017, the Patriots lost in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl … just sayin’!
Here’s to James White. If we see him back in full force in 2022, amazing! We can’t wait. If we don’t, well, his work here is enough to make him a Patriots legend.