Sunday, October 16, 2016

White Desreves To Continue Role Once Lewis Returns

He is called "Sweet Feet", and not because Rex Ryan is a fan...

...which he probably is, anyway, but that's beside the point.  James White is a legitimate weapon in the New England Patriots' offense who is finally getting the recognition that he deserves from the fans and the media.

And, why not?  After all the third-year running back out of Wisconsin is second on the team behind power back LeGarrette Blount in carries, averaging 4.3 yards per touch, and is third on the team in receptions behind only Julian Edelman and Martellus Bennett and is on pace to top 50 catches and 500 yards for the season.

Which is perhaps a conservative estimate given that he enjoyed his best day of the season last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, rushing 5 times for 26 yards and hauling in four passes for 63 yards in Tom Brady's first game of the season, the two picking right up where they left off last season when White filled in for an injured Dion Lewis, catching 40 balls for over 400 yards in what was, essentially, a nine-game performance.

But there are two things that could hold back White from reaching those levels - first being any injury that could sap several games from his season and the other is the return of Lewis from the PUP list.

The explosive Lewis is eligible to return from the PUP after this Sunday's game against Cincinnati, reportedly fully recovered from the ACL tear that sapped the second half of his 2015 season in which he was on pace for 100 carries and 450 yards in the running game and in the passing game, 80 catches for almost 900 yards.

Obviously, Lewis is a special talent.  Nicknamed "Little Dirty" by Edelman and "Human Joystick" by the National media, the Pitt product is a surprisingly effective inside runner and as entertaining as they come in space, displaying a video game-like elusiveness that frustrates tacklers and amazes fans.

White hasn't been particularly effective between the tackles in his first two seasons, but has obviously dedicated himself to improvement, as his 4.6 yards per carry this season will attest.  White doesn't have the stop-start ability that Lewis possesses, but has a rare straight-line elusiveness that relies on deceptive speed combined with a barely noticeable toe drag along the sidelines which causes tacklers to lunge and miss.

Together, they have it all, and combined with the virtual cornucopia of talent in the Patriots' offense, both are poised for career seasons.

The Patriots' offense is the football version of the holy trinity.  In addition to the combined threat of White and Lewis, there is the wide receiver trifecta of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan - who, by the way, appears to be Brady's favorite deep threat - and, of course, the best tight end combination in the league in Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett.

The problem - and a very good problem for head ball coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels - is how to best utilize all of these wonderful fireworks optimally, so as to bury opposing defenses, or at least take away their will to fight.

I mean, come on.

Even the most ardent Patriots' hater has a tough time finding fault and/or weaknesses in the New England offense, and even the tools in the national press are reluctantly acknowledging that this may be the most explosive offense the Patriots have had in almost a decade, perhaps ever.

Even more explosive than the 2007 offense that ran the score up on the entire league and logged the only perfect sixteen-game season in NFL history - because the 2016 edition, while not as fast as the Randy Moss led group, is certainly more sudden, deep and powerful, and when one adds in the best quarterback ever to play the game, there should be zero argument...

...especially considering the metaphoric chip on his shoulder that, mixed with his legendary focus and preparation, should have defensive coordinators throughout the league both perplexed as to how to stop him, and shaking fear that they won't be able to.

For sure, the Patriots' offense has returned to a period in time when Brady's favorite receiver is the open one, but the difference between now and any other period in Brady's tenure is that he has his many favorites to choose from, as there is so much talent in the pattern that the opposing defense can't account for them all.

The fear, as always, is injury, particularly among the tight ends as defenders have decided that the only way to stop Gronkowski and Bennett is to take them out at the knees, a tactic which has every Patriots' fan holding their breath every time either one lumbers down the field with the ball in their gigantic hands.

But for now, the Patriots are looking forward to getting back the final piece to their championship puzzle - the human joystick nicknamed "Little Dirty" for his absolutely filthy suddenness that makes him difficult to see, let alone tackle, and the only way to stop is by misfortune and injury...

...but hopefully Belichick and McDaniels don't forget that they have a kid nicknamed "Sweet Feet", whose elusiveness is more subtle, but his contribution just as impactful as Lewis...

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