With LeGarrette Blount suspended for the first game of the season, it is more than likely that Jonas Gray will get the majority of the carries against the Steelers. As many of us know, to this point in his career, Gray is a one hit wonder. After putting up 202 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Colts, Gray has done very little.
During Thursday night’s preseason game, Gray broke off an impressive 55 yard touchdown run that showcased both great vision, and breakaway speed.
Now I know it is only preseason, but it made me wonder if Gray could in fact be the Patriots number one back. He certainly has all of the physical properties that are needed within a NFL running back, and if used properly within the offense, could be devastating to defenses.
Gray is a power back with exceptional strength, but he also has the ability to make defenders miss in one on one situations. When he needs to be, he can be quit elusive. I know we have only had a small sample size, but I have liked what I have seen.
One thing that impresses me about Gray is his use of the stiff arm. It seems as though the stiff arm has become a much underutilized weapon in running back arsenals, as players tend to opt for jukes and dekes, rather than an old school stiff arm.
We saw Gray use this tactic against the Colts, and it worked well for him. Granted the Colts are a soft team who likes to tattle on the stronger, better teams, cough…cough Deflatgate, I still, however, could see his power style working for him against other opponents, especially with the Patriots exceptional run blocking.
What concerns me most about Gray is not his on field production, but off field. Gray has all the talent in the world, but if he doesn’t put it to good use then it’s worthless.
Gray was benched after his fantastic rushing performance against the Colts due to a late arrival to the team facility. It had not been the first time that this had happened, and as a result it landed Gray on the bench for following game.
It’s never good to have this happen, but we can chalk it up to being a young player’s mistake. If this problem continues, however, then we begin to run into some real trouble.
It’s no secret that Gray has the capability to put up big numbers, but he needs to keep his head on straight. It seemed as though after the Colts game, Gray’s ego become super inflated, and he ultimately payed the price for it.
Gray needs to look to the veteran players on this team, and follow in their footsteps. After all, it’s not that hard to show up to work on time, especially if you’re getting paid millions of dollars to do so. Now, if this was any other organization I would say that Gray’s career would be doomed to mediocracy. But this isn’t another organization. This is the Patriots, and if the Patriots know one thing, it’s how to maximize talent.
I have complete faith in Bill that he will be able to straighten out Gray and make sure that he is 100% committed to the team, and to winning. I feel as though, alongside Blount, Gray will have a break out year and escape the moniker of being a one hit wonder.
He has all the tangible aspects, he now just needs to put the pieces together. I don’t see him claiming the number one spot this season, but as I previously mentioned, I feel as though he and Blount will both have very good seasons. I do feel that somewhere down the road, barring any massive free agent signings Gray will be the feature back, and have a long career in New England.
By Jake Cianci