Has the tipping point been reached with Stevan Ridley? Have the Patriots come to the point where the benefits of having his make-you-miss ability on the field are actually outweighed by his propensity to fumble the football?
Bill Belichick was asked similar questions on two separate occasions on Monday -- once in a conference call with reporters, once on WEEI's Salk and Holley show -- and without mentioning Ridley by name, he explained that the problem needed to be fixed.
While on his conference call Monday morning, Belichick delved into how eliminating turnovers is of the utmost importance to the Patriots, and that it falls on coaches as well as players to help curb the issue.
"Ball security is the paramount issue for your football team every week, our football team every week," Belichick said. "We fumbled the ball, whatever it was, six times [Sunday] night. We can’t go on like that. We just can’t.
"There were multiple situations and multiple things involved and it hurt us the week before in Carolina. We’re just not going to be able to overcome turning the ball over, however you turn it over. Whether it’s fumbles or interceptions or muffed punts or tipped interceptions, whatever it is, fumbled snaps -- we just can’t overcome those, not for very long. You might get it for awhile but in the end, it’s just too big an advantage go give to the other team. We have to take better care of the ball.
"Obviously [the Broncos] had a hard time taking care of it last night too. There were multiple turnovers throughout the game. Certainly the conditions were part of it but in general we have to do a better job of coaching and playing and securing the ball. That includes everybody, everybody who touches it. It’s not limited to one guy, it’s anybody who touches the ball. That’s the center, the quarterback, the running backs, the receivers, the returners, the holders, the kickers, the snappers -- everybody. Everybody that touches the ball, we have to take better care of it."
Later in the day, with Salk and Holley, Belichick hinted that Ridley's ball-security problem could be overcome.
"I don't think any of our backs have an issue that I would say would prevent them from being a productive player," Belichick said. "Look, there are some plays that happen in football that are plays that happen in football. Then there are other plays that are caused by a lack of discipline, a lack of technique, just carelessness. Those are the ones we have to eliminate."