Snaps: Exploring Ridley's decline

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
12:00
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at the snaps played by Patriots skill-position players in Sunday's 27-17 win over the Dolphins, while analyzing what it means (small margin for error, as charted in press box):

QB Tom Brady -- 65-of-65
WR Aaron Dobson -- 50-of-65
WR Danny Amendola -- 39-of-65
TE Michael Hoomanawanui -- 37-of-65
WR Austin Collie -- 33-of-65
WR Julian Edelman -- 33-of-65
TE Rob Gronkowski -- 33-of-65
RB Brandon Bolden -- 31-of-65
RB Stevan Ridley -- 20-of-65
RB LeGarrette Blount -- 14-of-65
WR Kenbrell Thompkins -- 14-of-65
TE Matthew Mulligan -- 13-of-65
FB James Develin -- 8-of-65

(Penalties included. Kneel-down at the end of the first half not included.)

ANALYSIS: During the game, it was difficult to comprehend why the team's best pure rusher, Stevan Ridley, was seemingly used so sparingly. One theory floated from this perspective on Twitter was that perhaps it was a result of some in-house discipline for his actions on a touchdown run last week (he high-stepped it in), but with the benefit of time in putting together the snap counts, the feeling here is that probably wasn't it. An educated guess is that Ridley's lack of snaps were combination of: 1) Brandon Bolden being viewed as the best pass-protecting back and that being prioritized in this week's plan based on the varied blitzes the Dolphins had shown on film; 2) A rotation with LeGarrette Blount in the "big back" role that limited overall opportunities for both because the Patriots didn't have a lot of plays. Had the Patriots sustained more drives, the substitution pattern between Blount and Ridley likely would have been seen more clearly. The substitution pattern showed up by looking closely at the team's longest drives -- on the 15-play, second-quarter march, Ridley took all the "big back" snaps while Bolden was on for the "passing back" snaps; and on the 13-play fourth-quarter drive, Blount took all the "big back" snaps but one, while Bolden took the "passing back" snaps. ... At receiver, Aaron Dobson was the primary "X" option, over Kenbrell Thompkins. The 14 snaps for Thompkins were a season-low. ... Austin Collie continues to work himself into the receiver mix, even though it was a quiet game for him on the stat sheet (no catches), as his 33 snaps were a season-high in the three games he's played (26 vs. Jets; 9 vs. Saints). ... Overall, it seemed to be more of a liberal mix of substitutions at receiver between Danny Amendola (39), Julian Edelman (33) and Collie (33). ... At tight end, Rob Gronkowski continues to be eased into the mix, as he played fewer snaps (33) than last week (51).

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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