The Patriots need running back Stevan Ridley more than ever. While his fumble rate since the start of 2013 is the 24th worst out of the 29 running backs with 200+ carries, New England has nowhere else to turn.
The team needs Ridley to generate a rushing attack behind a porous offensive line and they need him to do it now.
Ridley isn't a home run threat at running back. He's not a danger to be a receiver. What he does is grind down the opposition and he is good at his job.
Turns out, he's one of the best in the league in setting an offense up for a positive drive. Out of the same 29 running backs, he ranks 6th best in churning out positive runs, with 83.9% of his handoffs reaching back to the line of scrimmage. He doesn't give up yardage. When he's running behind a weak interior, that ability to get back to the line of scrimmage is important.
Perhaps more importantly is the success he has while running. Ridley ranks second, behind only DeMarco Murray, in having successful runs. A successful run is determined by the down and how many yards remain for a first down; if the back earns yardage greater than the yards to go divided by downs remaining, then the back had a successful run.
Not only does Ridley not hurt the team, but he moves the ball down the field. He might never break away a long run into the end zone, but he's perfect for extending drives and getting the needed yards to move the chains.
As the Patriots head to Kansas City, Ridley will play a big role in taking pressure off of Tom Brady and the passing game. He should be up to the task.