Zeke Reloaded

Ab Stanley

Bill Belichick has made so many good moves acquiring players in his career I think we’ve lost count. From trading away veterans at almost the perfect time, to drafting late round picks that end up being Pro Bowl participants, Belichick has had a knack for getting or moving players at the right time.

This week the New England Patriots signed running back Ezekiel Elliott, seemingly adding to the legend that is Belichick. A move that most fans would scoff at what could very well be the move of the offseason and the Patriots offense could have gotten a huge boost.


Resurgence Or A Reminder?

Elliott’s last season playing for the Dallas Cowboys wasn’t his greatest showing, but it wasn’t the worst. He finished with 876 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. He also finished with a career low 3.8 yards per carry. So the question is which Elliott will show up for his first season in New England?

For the four seasons from 2018-2021, Elliott ran for an average of 1,193 yards and 4.3 yards per carry. The yardage numbers would be better than any Patriots running back since the 2012 season (Stevan Ridley). Elliott probably won’t get more carries than the Patriots’ current rushing leader Rhamondre Stevenson (1,040 rushing yards in 2022), but there’s plenty of room for another back.


The Belichick Effect

How exactly will Belichick use Elliott you might ask? I would imagine a role where he’s getting a ton of short yardage touches for sure. What people might not expect is a role in the realm of players like Kevin Faulk or James White: a third down type of back.

Elliott is not known for his pass catching ability out the backfield, but he is capable. In the previously mentioned time frame from 2018-2021, Elliott averaged 57.5 catches per season with an average of 7.0 yards per catch.

Elliott is also an excellent pass blocker which Belichick covets in his backfield.

The Patriots were 24th in rushing yards last season and the entire team could only muster up 12 rushing touchdowns (which matches Elliott’s subpar 2022 season). Adding Elliott’s rushing ability plus his psss catching prowess might seem like an afterthought in a loaded AFC East, but this move actually pushes the needle a bit in New England’s favor.

If Elliott can get back to anything resembling that time span, then the Patriots just hit the jackpot. With Belichick in charge this is the type of move that should concern the rest of the division, maybe the entire league.

Ab Stanley

Atlanta, GA

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