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MORSE: Patriots Post Season Analysis – Running Backs

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
1 min ago at 1:29 pm ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Patriots Post Season Analysis – Running BacksDavid Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

This week I will start my team analysis on the running backs.  As a whole, the group performed very considering there were limited holes to run through.  The poor play of the offensive line limited what the running backs could do.  I would also put some of the blame on the poor playcalling by Matt Patricia.

Any analysis starts with Rhamondre Stevenson.  He carried the rock 210 times for 1,040 yards, a 5.0 average, 5 TDs, 61.2 yards per game, and 2 fumbles.  The fumble at Cincinnati, which should have been ruled forward progress, kept the Patriots from making the playoffs.  Stevenson is a bull with quick feet and a change of direction.  Here are his 2022 stats.  He is on the edge of becoming a superstar in the league.

G             Carries  Yards     Avg       TDs          Yards/G                                Fum

17           210         1040       5.0          5              61.2                        2

Stevenson led the league in yards after contact at 3.81.  According to Pro Football Focus, he had an 81.3 rating good for #11 in the league.  He was also a big threat in the passing game with 69 catches, and 88 targets for 421 yards.  He had two fumbles in the passing game.  The fumbles and his average rating in pass blocking bring down his overall average.  That is something to work on in the off-season for the 2nd year back.  Belichick doesn’t like backs that fumble.  I remember that he made Kevin Faulk carry a football with him everywhere during one training camp season.  All teammates were encouraged to knock the ball out of his hands whenever they saw him.  After that Faulk became a very reliable and secure ball handler.   Stevenson’s ability to catch puts pressure on the defense.  They cannot key on a particular player and say he is strictly the 3rd down back and it’s a passing situation.  Our inexperienced play-caller Matt Patricia did not take advantage of that.

Fourth-year back Damien Harris was hurt quite a bit this year and limited to 11 games.  His stat line was:

G             Carries  Yards     Avg       TDs          Yards/G                                Fum

11           106                         4.4          3              42                           0

Harris had a breakout season in 2021, when he tallied 202 carries for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns.  However missing all that time this season, and the emergence of the bruising running style of Stevenson made him a complimentary piece.  He was down nearly 100 carries.  Harris had a “red shirt” year his rookie season and didn’t see the field until he was a sophomore.  That ate up one of the 4-years of the contract he signed as a 3rd round selection in the 2019 draft.  He will be a Free Agent in 2023 and in my opinion, unlikely to be re-signed by the Patriots.  Through his agent and in interviews with local reporters, Harris has expressed an interest to remain with the Patriots.  According to PFF, Harris doesn’t rank in the top 50 available Free Agents for 2023.

In the passing game, Harris had 17 catches in 23 targets for 97 yards

Rookies Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris played more than I expected them to.  Strong’s stats were as follows:

G             Carries  Yards     Avg       TDs          Yards/G                                Fum

15           10           100         10.0        1              6.7                          0                              long of 44 yards

Strong’s pass blocking needs to improve but he performed adequately for a rookie this year especially for coming from the FBS level.  He caught the ball well, with 7 receptions on 7 targets for 42 yards and averaging 6.0 yards per reception.  We got a glimpse of his 4.3 speed.  I expect him to jump into the number 2 role next season as I don’t expect that Damien Harris will be back with the Patriots.

JJ Taylor got a few call-ups from the Practice Squad and was signed to the active roster for a few weeks while Damien Harris was out.  However, he had a career-low 10 carries for the season.  He returned to the Practice Squad late in the season.  Taylor signed a futures contract with the Patriots.  He will have to fight for a roster spot as I expect that Patriots to draft a RB and probably sign a veteran as well.   Ty Montgomery was listed as a WR but in the preseason he caught the ball well out of the backfield.  Montgomery missed the entire season.

Transactions

As the off-season progresses I will be noting the comings and goings of personnel.

Signed Futures Contracts

LB Terez Hall, DB Brad Hawkins, OL Hayden Howerton, DB Quandre Mosely, LB Calvin Munson, WR Tre Nixon, DL Jeremiah Pharms Jr., DL LaBryan Ray, TE Matt Sokol, RB J.J. Taylor, and TE Scotty Washington.

Practice Squad Players not signed or electing Free Agency

OL Bill Muray, LB Jamie Collins, WR Lynn Bowden, QB Garrett Gilbert, and K Tristan Vizcaino

Vizcaino was signed by Dallas yesterday to their Practice Squad as insurance for Brett Maher who missed 4 extra points in the playoff game Monday.

Patriots’ pronouncement on Jerod Mayo and Offensive Coordinator search

In an unusual press release, the Patriots announced they were in negotiation with Jerod Mayo to extend his services with the Patriots.  This negotiation canceled a visit with Carolina for their Head Coach search.  The general consensus is that this position will be titled Assistant Head Coach.  That will allow the Patriots to name Steve Belichick as Defensive Coordinator.   The second part of the Press Release is that the Patriots are going to conduct interviews this week for the Offensive Coordinator position.  TE Coach Nick Caley was interviewed on Wednesday, Jaguars WR Coach Keenan McCardell was scheduled, along with former Patriot O-lineman Adrian Klemm.  Former QB coach and Offensive Coordinator, Bill O’Brien is thought to be on that shortlist also.  However, O’Brien is off on the recruiting trail for Alabama.  His contract with Alabama does not expire until the end of February.


Posted Under: Patriots News

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