FOXBORO, Mass. — It’s an uncomfortable process that does not seem to be going away.
First, Stevan Ridley starts the game, runs well and gets the Patriots moving down the field. Then he fumbles, Bill Belichick benches him and the running back has to stand in front of the media to answer questions about his fumblitis.
Of course, Ridley wasn’t the only player at Gillette Stadium that had fumbling issues. LeGarrette Blount coughed up the frigid football, as did Tom Brady and Julian Edelman (twice each). The Broncos had six fumbles of their own.
But Ridley’s the only player whose fumbling issues have been deemed “chronic.” In the 1980s, Ridley would have been fine — Eric Dickerson and Walter Payton used to fumble 10 or more times a season — but today, ball security is ultra valuable.
“For me, I think my team deserves better than what I’m doing out there and putting on the field,” Ridley said. “It’s been consecutive weeks with putting the ball on the ground and, as a running back, you can’t do that. I’ve said that multiple times. I work too hard to make the small mistakes and I keep setting myself back and setting this team back. The offense depends on me and to go out there and get the job done and when I put the ball on the ground they have no option but to take me out and it’s sickening, honestly.”
Those are strong words from Ridley, who is taking responsibility for his issues head-on. Ridley’s fumbles would likely be noticed anyway, but Bill Belichick has a way of putting a highlighter on the issue by placing Ridley on the sideline for the remainder of the game.
“I’m not going to get too far down,” Ridley said. “I’m going to put a little more pressure on myself to go out there and practice and try to change up some things because I can’t keep doing this and it’s sickening.”
Ridley’s touches were bound to go down with Shane Vereen back. Brandon Bolden ran well in Ridley’s stead.