By Rich Levine
Standing Room Only
In New England, everyone is the next someone.
Julian Edelmans the next Wes Welker. Devin McCourtys the next Ty Law. Is Ras-I Dowling the next Eugene Wilson? Hank Poteat was, and always will be, the next Hank Poteat.
But for my money (which, if you look at my pay stubs, isnt much) theres only one Patriot player comparison thats truly come to fruition.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is Antowain Smith.
Check this out:
Last year, the Law Firm carried the ball 229 times for 1008 yards and 13 TD. In 2001, Smith carried the ball 287 times, for 1157 yards and 12 TD. Receptions? Smith had 19; BJGE had 12. Both have the same style, the same strengths, the same limitations. Neither will make you drop your jaw, but neither will drop the ball (BJGE still hasnt fumbled in 329 career rush attempts). Smith was, and Green-Ellis is the definition of solid. No flash, just solid.
Back in the day, Smith was complimented by Kevin Faulk the dynamic, do-everything back who kept the defense on their toes. Green-Ellis? Well, that brings us to another potential comparison.
Because its hard to look at Danny Woodhead and not envision him as the next Kevin Faulk.
I hesitate to do so, because it feels so disrespectful to all that Faulks accomplished (I felt the same way about the instant EdelmanWelker comparison), but the numbers dont lie. Or if they do, they dont lie that much.
Last year, Woodhead had 926 yards from scrimmage, a total that Faulk has only topped three times in his career and once since 2003 (he had 993 yards in 2008 with Matt Cassel as his QB). Of course, thats not all there is to the game. Theres the blocking factor. The leadership factor. The clutch factor. There are all sorts of heights (no pun intended) and measures of consistency that Woodhead must achieve before we can count on him the same way we did Kevin Faulk.
So how about this: For now, lets take Kevin Faulk out of it.
And lets just say that Danny Woodhead, regardless of who preceded him in his current role, is a fantastic compliment for Benjarvus Green-Ellis who in turn, is a more than serviceable lead back. Given the weapons around them, theyre more than enough to help the Pats to another title.
Will Stevan Ridley step in and contribute? Will Shane Vereen overcome the quiet preseason and save his rookie campaign? Are we worried that they dont have a fullback?
Those answers will play out along with the season, but for now, you should be ready and willing to go to war with Woodhead and the Law Firm.