Forget being the best running back on the Patriots. Rhamondre Stevenson now is one of the top backs in the NFL.
And you can bet that Bill Belichick agrees with that claim.
Stevenson was the best player on the field for New England in its 22-17 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The sophomore back finished with 16 carries for 71 yards while adding seven receptions for 72 yards, leaving him three behind Jakobi Meyers’ team-leading season total of 35 catches. Stevenson’s hard work in the passing game clearly is paying off, as he now ranks sixth among all backs in all-purpose yards (775) and has teammates comparing him to Patriots legend James White.
Belichick has spoken highly — like, very highly — of Stevenson all season long. And that trend continued Monday morning.
“Yeah, Mondre just gets better every day,” Belichick said during a Zoom call. “He’s one of the guys that I’ve coached that really has shown just continuous improvement almost every day he walks into the building. Just in every phase of the game. This kid’s really come a long way in just every part of his game. You mentioned some of the things in the passing game, awareness, route running, blitz pickup, recognition, getting out on fake blitzes, versus reading the difference between fake blitzes and blitzes. In the running game his patience and setting up blocks, running on the second level, stiff arm and contact balance, ball security. You name it.
“I have a ton of respect for the way he’s worked at his game, improved his training habits. He’s still got a ways to go. But he just gets better at all the things he works at every day. He’s got a long list of them. But he’s made significant progress in so many areas. He’s really been impressive.”
The improvement’s that Stevenson had made to his all-around game can’t be understated. Always a dynamic runner, the Oklahoma product now is a dangerous pass-catching threat and an above-average blocker.
Here’s where he currently ranks among running backs in various Pro Football Focus categories:
Overall grade: fifth
Running grade: 10th
Receiving grade: first
Pass-blocking grade: 11th
Run-blocking grade: 10th
Stevenson’s emergence has some wondering whether impending free agent Damien Harris could be moved before Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline. Other teams reportedly have been calling the Patriots about the fourth-year pro. However, New England might be better off keeping both players in an attempt to limit Stevenson’s workload moving forward.
Stevenson will look to continue his upward momentum this Sunday when the Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts.