It wasn’t too long ago that Dion Lewis described this as a “tough situation” in New England.
He was referring to his usage. Not just in a vacuum, but in a contract year.
Talking to NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Giardi several days after a Week 3 win over the Houston Texans, Lewis expressed his frustration with limited playing time.
Usually, in Foxboro, that doesn’t go over well. But in fairness to Lewis, also usually, that type of frustrated and somewhat individualistic attitude leaks onto the practice field, stinks up the locker room, and turns into an ugly situation.
Credit Lewis for not letting it get to that point. In fact, extra credit to Lewis for turning it all into a positive, and giving the Patriots another dangerous offensive weapon during a time in which they were looking to make improvements across the board.
That’s not to say the Patriots, at 5-2, are a finished product. There isn’t a single person in the organization that will tell you they are. But after Lewis finished Sunday night’s win over the Atlanta Falcons with a season-high 13 rush attempts for 76 yards, it’s clear that the Pats are much closer to being that finished product when he’s getting his touches.
Since making those comments after Week 3, Lewis’ rushing attempts have increased every week. He had four attempts in Week 4 against Carolina, seven attempts in Week 5 against Tampa Bay, 11 attempts in Week 6 against the Jets, and 13 attempts in Week 7 against Atlanta.
He didn’t just talk. He didn’t just complain. He put in the work. And it’s paying off for him, and his team.
If this trend continues, then Week 8 is looking like it could end up being “the Dion Lewis game” at Gillette Stadium.
The 3-4 Los Angeles Chargers will make the cross-country trek for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff, having won three straight games. They allow just 18.7 points per game, which ranks eighth in the NFL. But there’s one stat that should jump out at the Patriots, and Lewis.
The Chargers have the second-worst run defense in the league, allowing 141 rush yards per game. In their four losses this season, they’ve allowed the opposing team’s top rusher to average 128 yards on-the-ground per game.
In a Week 1 loss to Denver, C.J. Anderson ran for 81 yards on 20 carries. In a Week 2 loss to Miami, Jay Ajayi ran for 122 yards on 28 carries. In a Week 3 loss to Kansas City, Kareem Hunt ran for 172 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. And in a Week 4 loss to Philadelphia, LeGarrette Blount ran for 136 yards on 16 carries.
This has to make Lewis’ eyes light up. Because if the trend with his increased usage continues, then I expect Lewis to get close to 20 carries on Sunday, which could make him good for over 100 yards rushing. A presence like that in the backfield, moving forward, would be one of the most important in-season improvements for a Patriots team that still has plenty of questions on the defensive end.
And if Lewis gets 20 touches a game the rest of the way, it won’t be such a tough situation after all, for the player or the team.
Credit both Lewis and the Patriots for handling it the right way.
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