Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"The Law Firm" at Work

AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

New England Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is known as “The Law Firm” because of his multi-part name. Could he also adopt the identity of “The Answer” for the Patriots running-game woes?

Currently, the Patriots rank tenth in the league in rushing yards per game at 123.3 yards. The majority of that is thanks to Green-Ellis’ 16 carries for 98 yards against Buffalo. Prior to the game the Pats were only averaging 85 yards per game.

As commonly noted, running back has not been a stable position for the Patriots due to retirement, injuries, and inconsistent play. Since 2006, the Patriots have seen three different players lead the team in rushing yards for the season.

The Patriots have 370 yards rushing in the first three games. The top-two rushers in the NFL, Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson, have more yards than that by themselves.

As long as Tom Brady is the quarterback, the Patriots will always be a pass-first team. However, New England has had well documented problems closing and finishing out games in the past two seasons. Part of the reason could be due to the lack of balance on offense.

Green-Ellis could provide the perfect punch.

He is a very physical player, a downfield-style runner that likes to go through people rather than around them. He is also very efficient on his carries, averaging four yards a carry over his short career.

He also has six touchdowns in the 24 games he’s played, including a stretch in his rookie season where he scored in four straight games, and five out of six, when he was the team’s starting running back.

Since Laurence Maroney was traded away, Kevin Faulk was lost for the season due to injury, and Fred Taylor—always an injury risk—banged up his toe, there are a lot of positives to make Green-Ellis the permanent starter.

As stated earlier, he is a productive player when given the ball.

With the team struggling to close out games, Green-Ellis provides a solution. Instead of forcing passes, Brady could just hand off to Green-Ellis and let him pound the football up the middle of the field and kill the clock, giving the opponent less time to even attempt a comeback.

The more Green-Ellis can pound the ball for positive yards, the more attention he’ll garner from the defense, and the easier the passing game will be.

He was an undrafted free agent who climbed the depth chart, so you know he is willing to work and make the most of his opportunities.

And since the Patriots are a passing team, they won’t be going out and spending big bucks on a top-notch running back. Green-Ellis provides a cheap alternative.

He will face another test in Week 4 against a Miami Dolphins’ defense stronger than the one the Bills trotted out, but do the Patriots have any better options?

It may be time to let “The Law Firm” go to work permanently.

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