Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bolden's stock rising in Pats' fumbling backfield


Despite the overtime win against the Broncos last weekend, New England's rushing attack now has the fourth-most fumbles in the league and leads the league in fumbles lost, thanks to a couple more drops by Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount.

Ridley's fumble in Sunday's night game was his fourth of the season and third in as many games, while Blount's subsequent fumble was his second of the season.

And though the team has managed to stay atop the division despite the recent flurry of errors, coach Bill Belichick knows that won't be the case for long if the woes continue.

"We’re just not going to be able to overcome turning the ball over, however you turn it over," Belichick said Monday, via "Whether it’s fumbles or interceptions or muffed punts or tipped interceptions, whatever it is, fumbled snaps – we just can’t overcome those, not for very long. You might get it for awhile but in the end, it’s just too big an advantage go give to the other team.

"We have to take better care of the ball."

His best option in trying to achieve that goal may be third-string back Brandon Bolden, who has yet to put the ball on the ground. 

Though the 23-year-old's only carried the ball 51 times, his reliability is looking much more promising than Ridley's at the moment — who's fumbling once every 34 carries on average — or Blount's, who's averaged a fumble once every 41 carries. Bolden's even been more effective on a per-carry basis, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt, and he's amassed 118 yards through the air to boot.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was the latest to defend Ridley Tuesday, saying he has "great confidence" in the struggling back. He even pointed to the fact that quarterback Tom Brady fumbled twice in the cold, blustery conditions Sunday. 

McDaniels did, however, elude to his and ultimately Belichick's responsibility to do what's best for the team's success. That may turn into more carries for Bolden if things don't turn around for Ridley, especially if Blount can't prove to be a reliable option.

"Ultimately Bill [Belichick] will decide how we utilize all our guys offensively, and we want to try to give our team the best chance to win," McDaniels said Tuesday, via "So whenever that time is to put people in, to move them out - we've rotated backs all season, I mean we've done that a lot. Look, everybody's going to have an opportunity to continue to help our team win, and we have the obligation as coaches to try to help fix any issues that we have offensively.

"That's what our job is, and we've got to do a better job of it."

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