This season has been one of the better New England Patriots seasons for the running backs. For about the last four years from 2006-09, the running backs haven't been a strong factor in games, if a factor at all.
This season primarily featured two young backs, BenJarvus Green Ellis and Danny Woodhead. Green-Ellis was downhill, Woodhead was versatile. They were a great tandem, especially for their first season as featured players.
Green-Ellis was given the starting job with the trade of Maroney, the injury of Taylor and the transition to fullback for Morris. The team has never had that player it could just give the ball to and have pick up four yards it needs.
Green-Ellis provided that service. He was not flashy, just productive. One thing he brought was consistency, and positive yards. His numbers were no fluke. He played to his max game in and game out.
Woodhead was signed right before the Week 2 match up because the Patriots had an extra roster spot. When Kevin Faulk went down, they looked to him to be someone they could use.
And what happens? He explodes. Being a player of three different dimensions (running, receiving, and special team tackler), he gave them the talents that Faulk had, and even more.
The two rushed for over 1,600 yards and accounted for 18 combined touchdowns.
While they brought the running game back into New England, they were missing the explosiveness. They missed the fear-inducing effect. While they could be relied upon for short yards and third down conversions, rarely would they make huge plays. They lacked the ability to make defenses look for the run, which was evident in the Jets-Patriots playoff game.
For 2011, they need another running back. Chances are that Taylor, Morris and Faulk will not be back. Bringing in a third young running back would complete the transition for the running back corps.
Many suggest that Mark Ingram should be drafted, adding the explosion they need. The idea is excellent. Green-Ellis is tough, Woodhead is elusive, and Ingram is fast.
Just the idea seems exciting.