At 5-foot-10, James White can be easy to miss. But your eyes aren't deceiving you: The New England Patriots running back simply hasn't been on the field much recently.
White played 25 snaps in Sunday's 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and touched the ball just seven times, tallying two rushes for 12 yards and five receptions for 25 yards.
Sunday was the second consecutive game White has garnered fewer than 10 touches, as he's gotten a smaller piece of the backfield pie since Rex Burkhead returned from injury in Week 13.
Sunday also was the Patriots' second consecutive loss. So is there a parallel between White's workload and New England's success?
In short, yes.
The dual-threat running back is averaging 14 touches per game (7.4 carries, 6.6 receptions) for 91.8 total yards and nine touchdowns in the Patriots' nine wins. In New England's five losses, those numbers plummet to 7.4 touches per game (three carries, 4.4 receptions) for just 45.2 total yards and one score.
The Patriots also are 2-4 when White is on the field for 34 snaps or fewer, per Pro Football Reference. When he plays at least 35 snaps, they're 7-1.
White was asked about his recent dip in playing time Monday and gave a (somewhat) diplomatic answer.
"Everybody wants to be out there as much as possible, and with our offense -- it is a gameplan offense, so we know you’re not going to be out there each and every play every week," White told WEEI's "Dale & Keefe" radio show.
"So, everybody has to accept their role and when you’re out there, you have to make the most of your opportunities. That's all I can really say about that."
To be clear, White's playing time isn't a direct predictor of the Patriots' offensive success. A rising tide lifts all boats, so it makes sense that White would perform better with higher volume in New England wins.
White also is the Patriots' most-used running back this season by a wide margin; he's played 55.6 percent of the team's offensive snaps compared to Sony Michel's 27.9, and White actually set a franchise record Sunday for the most receptions in a season by a running back.
Tom Brady became the 4th QB to surpass 70,000 regular season passing yards today. James White set the single-season franchise record for catches by a RB. He has 81.— The Hall presented by Raytheon (@TheHall) December 17, 2018
But the numbers suggest that unless the Patriots have concerns about White's health or durability, they should be utilizing him even more.
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