LeGarrette Blount (29) New England Patriots – Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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Through the first three games of 2016, New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount has been heavily used. As such, Blount is on historic pace for a Patriots running back.
LeGarrette Blount has accumulated 298 yards and four touchdowns on 75 carries so far this season. That’s an average of 25 handoffs and a hair under 100 yards per game. If you multiply Blount’s average of 99.33 yards per game by the total number of regular season games (16), you come up with a projection of 1,589 yards for Blount by year’s end.
In other words, Blount is on pace to flirt with breaking 1,600 rushing yards, a feat that has been accomplished only once in New England history, by Corey Dillon (1,635 yards) in 2004.
Admittedly, this is a bit over overkill in the excitement department. Much of the reason Blount has been featured so prominently in the Patriots’ offense is a direct result of Tom Brady’s absence from the team. Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett have been dependent on the steady running of Blount in their respective starts.
But here’s the thing: even when Brady returns to the lineup, Blount should still see a healthy amount of carries per game. Maybe not 25, but at least 18 or 20. With Brady at age 39, the Patriots know fully well just how important it will be to have a potent ground game.
Josh McDaniels and Dante Scarnecchia have been opening gaps for Blount without Brady on the field, and they will continue to devise ways to do so in the coming weeks and months.
Blount has his share of critics in New England, but you can count this writer out of that camp. Sure, many of Blount’s runs go for no gain, but the Patriots’ offense needs the north-south, straight-line running of Blount to balance out the skill sets of pass catching backs James White and Dion Lewis.
Going forward, expect the Patriots to rest on Blount against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4. With the starting quarterback situation up in the air between Garoppolo’s shoulder and Brissett’s thumb, the Patriots will need another 100-yard day out of their workhorse back.