Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was benched after fumbling in the first quarter last week against the Broncos and was inactive on Sunday in Houston, but Bill Belichick says he’s not trying to send Ridley a message.
Instead, Belichick says, demoting Ridley to the bottom of the depth chart is simply a matter of putting the best players on the field for the Patriots.
“If I have a message to send to somebody, I’ll just sit down and talk to them and tell them what it is,” Belichick said when asked if he’s sending a message. “I can have a conversation and do have a conversation with anybody on the team that I need to have a conversation with. That’s not a problem. There’s no sending a message. You sit down and talk to somebody man-to-man and talk about the situation so that we’re all on the same page as to whatever it happens to be and what the direction is going forward. That’s easy. There’s not sending a message. You just have a conversation with somebody. This isn’t cryptic. We’re just trying to win a football game, that’s all.”
Belichick declined to go into specifics when asked if fumbling was the reason for Ridley’s demotion, although it’s pretty obvious that his four fumbles in 135 carries are a major problem.
“The inactive players every week are based on, in part injuries and ultimately what we feel like for that particular game is the best decision for the football team in that game to try to win,” Belichick said. “Along with every other decision on the team that I make, it’s made with what gives our team, in our opinion, the best opportunity to win on Sundays. That’s what all decisions are based on.”
The Patriots had a four-man running back rotation of LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen and James Develin on Sunday, and none of those four ran the ball very well. The Patriots will be better if Ridley can show that he can stop fumbling. But that’s a pretty big “if.”