The New England Patriots brought back two of their own free agents this offseason. They’re presence is more important now than ever before.
The New England Patriots acquired several veteran free agents throughout the 2021 NFL offseason. But the Pats also re-signed a couple of key veteran, home grown players as well.
Two impact players who have been in the Patriots organization for the last six years. Two players who know what it takes to become a championship team. Two team captains and Super Bowl champions: James White and David Andrews.
That’s right. Among all of the signings New England has done this offseason, it was important to retain White and Andrews. The signings go far beyond the on-field product. It’s all about securing the championship culture that has been created and perfected over the last 20 years in New England.
The culture factor is definitely a real thing. And with White and Andrews staying put, it will live on. They will exemplify what a championship culture truly is with the younger players who are developing along the offense. White and Andrews are able to re-lay the groundwork that they once inherited within the offense.
Sweet Feet James White
Bringing back White is more important than what most people may think. White is a versatile and integral part of the offense. He became a solid and consistent check-down option for Tom Brady over the years out of the backfield. However, he has evolved into much more than a check-down option in the receiving game.
In fact, since 2015, White has impressively led all running backs in the receiving category. White has 364 receptions for 3,161 receiving yards and scored 25 receiving touchdowns over the last five seasons.
While White is utilized heavily through the air, he is definitely under appreciated as a runner out of the backfield. In 2018, White rushed for a career high 94 times for 425 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per attempt.
Looking even further into White’s ground game, he rushed for at least four yards per attempt from 2016-2018. And almost did it again in 2019. It’s fair to say that even though White doesn’t get many touchdowns on the ground, he is still effective running the ball.
However, since White is an established pass-catcher, it’s become predictable what the Patriots are going to do when he’s in the game… pass! The Pats could alter the predictability factor by having White run the ball more often than not. And nothing too crazy. But it would be nice to see White get around five carries per game this season.
At this point in his career, White is an accomplished veteran and leader on the New England Patriots. Regardless of his usage and impact this season, having a reliable player ready to go at a moment’s notice is hard to find in the NFL. You can’t coach that; you’re either capable or not. And White has proved many times that he is both reliable and capable.
Even if White’s biggest accomplishment this season is in more of a leadership role, he is going to make a difference on this team.
Big Bear David Andrews
Andrews has been the anchor along the offensive line since he came in as an undrafted rookie in 2015. And since then, he has led the way for the Patriots’ offensive line and takes great pride in doing so.
In 2019, we saw what New England’s rushing attack looked like without their starting center. And it definitely wasn’t pretty. A measly 3.8 yards per rushing attempt without Andrews leading the way up the middle.
The following year, with Andrews back, the Patriots were a top 10 rushing team that averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2020.
It’s fair to say that the overall moral of the Patriots is much better with Andrews on the field. He has been one of their most consistent players over the last five years. He has a firm understanding of the playbook. And the proper techniques that the great offensive line guru, Dante Scarnecchia, taught him as a rookie.
In turn, Andrews can show his skills to the younger lineman on the team. Which will start to pave the way for the future of the offensive line in New England.
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