Bill Belichick on Stevan Ridley: ‘We never want the ball out’
|08.17.14 at 12:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Here we go again.
It’s only the preseason but the question of Stevan Ridley and ball security has arisen once more.
On his seventh carry Friday night against the Eagles, Ridley ran off to his right, behind the right guard and just as he appeared to be falling routinely to the ground at the Philadelphia 10, the ball came out.
It was recovered by fullback James Develin so the Patriots managed to salvage the red zone chance and finished it off when Jimmy Garoppolo found Brandon LaFell in the back of the end zone.
There was some question as to whether it was a fumble at all as Ridley was close to having his backside on the turf when the ball came out when safety Earl Wolff stripped it out. But to head coach Bill Belichick, who has been down this road for the last three seasons with Ridley, whether it was down by contact was not the issue.
“We always talk about ball security, taking care of the ball. There’s nothing that correlates more to winning and losing than turnovers, so that’s always a high priority for us,” Belichick said in his Saturday conference call. “We never want the ball out and on the other side of the ball defensively and in the kicking game, we always try to get it out. Sometimes when we get the ball out, we don’t recover it or sometimes when we get it out they blow it dead but we always want to try to do that. The same goes true for the offensive side of the ball.”
Ridley came out of the game on what appeared to be his normal rotation but when he began to sprint on the field before the LaFell touchdown, he was called back and Brandon Bolden took his place. Bolden had two runs and rookie James White had another as Ridley was given time to consider his indiscretion.
“We don’t want plays where they end up with the ball, whether they’re ruled in our favor or not,” Belichick said. “Guys that have an interception in their hands but drop it or plays where the ball gets away from us, whether we recover it or it goes out of bounds or they recover it, those are all plays we’re trying to avoid, obviously. They do matter. So do the ones that, same thing on defense, the plays that we get out, we don’t get them all but the more we get them out, the more we’ll get, so they are significant.”
Ridley’s trouble with holding onto the ball is well-chronicled in New England. He has lost four fumbles in each of the last two seasons and was benched for the AFC championship and Super Bowl in his rookie season when he lost a fumble in the regular season finale and a playoff win over the Texans in Jan. 2012. Still, Ridley remains one of the most productive runners in the Patriots backfield, averaging 4.5 yards and rushing for 20 touchdowns in his first three seasons in New England.