FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The numbers don’t lie: The New England Patriots are a better offensive team in 2018 when James White is on the field.
The running back, known more for his pass catching than his running, has seen his number of snaps slip the past two weeks with the return of the previously injury Rex Burkhead. The Patriots lost both games, giving them five losses for the first time since 2009.
But the White numbers and their effect on the team go back beyond the past two weeks.
—The Patriots are 7-1 in games White gets 35 or more snaps, 2-4 in games he gets 34 or less.
—White averages 14.7 touches (runs or passes caught) per game in New England’s wins, just 7.4 in the losses.
—Nine of White 10 touchdowns this season have come in victories.
—White is averaging 6.6 catches per games in the wins, 4.4 in the loss – and seven of those came in the first loss at Jacksonville.
—He is averaging 7.4 carries per game in wins, 3.0 in losses.
—And he has had 59 snaps since Burkhead’s return; White had as many as 61 in a single game, a win, earlier in the schedule.
“We have guys, a lot of different role players. I just try to play my role each and every week,” White said Wednesday. “You play 10 snaps, you play 60 snaps, it just kind of depends on how the defense is matching up against us and the flow of the game.
“All of us try to make the most of the opportunities that we get. It could be me one week, it could be somebody else another week. I can’t complain if there’s one game I’m not touching the ball as much one week as the previous week.”
Asked if he thrives on more work, White, who hasn’t scored a touchdown in the last five games, flashed a big smile, laughed and said, “I just try and make the most of the opportunities that I get, whether it’s more work, less work, you just have to capitalize on what you get.”
In other words, as a captain — and a Patriot — he’s not about complaining about playing time.
“Any time you have multiple guys that play a similar position that are capable of doing good things in the game, you obviously have choices to make,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday. “Sometimes those choices mean more or less of something, and other times, they are factors that are not necessarily in our control that affect overall production and ability to get one person the football.
“Certainly, James is a player that has been very successful and productive in his role, and other teams are aware of that. He gets plenty of attention from other people and sometimes that means the ball needs to go somewhere else, and sometimes we can still find a way to get him the football and let him have the opportunity to make plays. I mean, he’s obviously a very good player for us, has been tremendous in his role, is very valuable. So, the more he touches it, the more we can get it to him, we usually feel very good about those opportunities.”