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BenJarvus Green-Ellis was New England's top running back last season. His power wasn't elite, nor was his speed, but his ball control was masterful. His ability to protect the rock always outweighed any literal expectations for dominant yardage or momentum-swinging runs.
Then, two things happened: The Patriots lost the Super Bowl and BenJarvus Green-Ellis left the team.
These two things combined to create a climate in which a more multi-dimensional offense would not only be preferable, but necessary, if the Patriots intended to beat a strong pass-rushing NFC team that was capable of breaking down their air attack.
In New England's season-opener against Tennessee, Stevan Ridley looked to prove himself, not only as a franchise back, but as an upgrade from Green-Ellis. He carried the rock 21 times and racked up 125 yards with a touchdown.
So, why did Ridley win the MVP award? Because of his numbers on Sunday? Partly, but not entirely.
Ridley won this award because he's theorizing a more complex offense for our team.
This is a running back who can be measured not just by ball security, but by sprints and gains. We can place expectations on his shoulders. He's showing us that there's more than BenJarvus Green-Ellis, just as Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez showed us that there was more than Randy Moss.
The 125 yards that Ridley plunked down on Sunday afternoon weren't just his stats, they were his closing arguments.