Patriots 2024 roster reset: Upgrade at running back remains a priority


Patriots 2024 roster reset: Upgrade at running back remains a priority originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Editor’s Note: With the beginning of NFL free agency looming on March 13, our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran is resetting each Patriots position by assessing their 2023 performance, laying out their 2024 contract status and ranking their offseason priority on a scale of 1 to 5.

Next up: running back.

Let’s acknowledge the qualifiers. Running back is one of the more dependent positions in the game. How well is a running play blocked? What kind of front is he running into? How effectively does the passing game impact a defense’s ability to load up near the line of scrimmage?

All that said, the Patriots’ running game in 2023 was weak. They ran for 1,627 yards on 415 carries and nine rushing touchdowns. They were 25th in yards per carry (3.9) and 26th in rushing yards per game as a team (95.7). The running back complement was redundant and not deep. Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 340 of the teams 415 carries and seven of the nine touchdowns.

Elliott also was the more productive pass-catching back and the Patriots’ lack of a change-up back (Ty Montgomery was ticketed to fill that role) was again a roster miscalculation. For a team that, in 2018, won a Super Bowl because of the running game with a bell-cow back (Sony Michel), a hybrid back (Rex Burkhead) and a sub-back (James White), that the team had two 225-pound backs was odd. The failure to replace White or even have a succession plan in place remains head-scratching.

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Maybe the team intended to have Pierre Strong, a fourth-rounder in 2022, as the sub-back when they selected him. But they dealt him in the offseason and he went to Cleveland and ran for 291 on 4.6 yards per carry. The other 2022 draftee, Kevin Harris, looked OK in his limited duty (16…

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Author : NBC Sports Boston

Publish date : 2024-02-29 01:30:08

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