October 17, 2015

PLAYERS DON'T MATTER, COACHING DOES:

Dion Lewis found the perfect fit with New England (Shaun Ranft, 10/16/15, Yardbarker)

So, how do the Patriots always seem to find these guys? The answer is simple--stop me if you've heard it before--but it's Bill Belichick. It always is. [...]

The biggest strengths for the 25-year-old are his quickness and elusiveness, but numerous teams overlooked him--he was a 5th round pick, after all--strictly because of his size. Lewis measures up at 5'7" and weighs just 193 pounds; not exactly a power back or someone you'd expect to carry the bulk of the load on most drives.

Of course, he isn't an every down back; Belichick and the Patriots understand that, and have utilized him very well thus far.

Upon getting the nod to start in Week 1 (he's started each game since), he was immediately compared to Vereen, with many wondering if he'd be used the same way. So far, with a look at the numbers, those comparisons would hold up.

That said, Lewis appears to have more to offer than Vereen overall.

In 42 career games for the Patriots, Vereen carried the ball 217 times--approximately 54 times per year over four seasons--for 907 yards, just 22 YPG but a respectable 4.2 YPC. He was targeted 159 times between 2012-2014--146 of those coming in '13 and '14--catching 107 of them, or 67 percent, for 1,023 yards (roughly 28 per game).

Lewis, having started each of New England's four games this year already, looks like he'll top those averages before too long if he's able to sustain his current production levels.

He's carried the ball 36 times for 180 (45 YPG, 5 YPC), while catching 23 of 30 targets (77 percent) for 238 yards, or 59.5 YPG.

He's only 25, Tom Brady is his QB--though nobody knows for how much longer--and Belichick is his head coach. Teams will eventually gameplan for him, but that may not matter. Vereen had quite the sustainable role in New England, and I expect Lewis to be an upgraded version of that, at the very least.

Size and circumstance kept Lewis from making an impact on teams in the past, but he's found the right fit in New England. More importantly, he's found the right coach in Belichick, who's been able to bring out the best in him.

But that's nothing new now, is it?

There was a hilarious bit on an NFL.com podcast this week where one of the analysts expressed wonderment at how every year "great coaches put players in situations they aren't suited for..."


Posted by at October 17, 2015 11:21 AM
  

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