Bill Belichick has seen his share of running backs.
In fact, dating back to 2000, the Patriots coach has been able to lay his eyes on a whole slew of running backs.
Veteran players from the early 2000s like Kevin Faulk, Antowain Smith, Corey Dillon, and Sammy Morris all played under Belichick.
And then more recently, players like LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Dion Lewis, and Sony Michel all laced up for the Patriots.
So what makes James White any different from the countless running backs that made their mark in the Patriots organization?
Well for starters, the 29-year-old running back is a four-time team captain. Since being drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft, White has become one of the most consistent and respected players in that locker room.
The three-time Super Bowl champion is a natural leader. His constant professionalism does not go unnoticed.
Just ask Patriots rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, who showed nothing but appreciation when he faced the media and was asked about his veteran running back following a week 2 victory over the New York Jets.
“In meeting him all the way back in OTAs, he was just — he’s the man and he knows every little thing about the offense,” Jones said after the game last Sunday. “If I ever struggle in the huddle, he’s like, 'Yup, here it is.’ He kind of knows the call too. So he helps me out. And that's something that I kind of always look at him in the huddle if I’m struggling or anything like that. He’s just a really calm, cool, and collected guy. He makes plays with the ball in his hand. James — just being older, he knows the system. I know I can trust him because he’s doing the right thing 99.9% of the time.”
White finished Week 2 with six receptions for 45 yards and four carries for 20 yards and a rushing touchdown. White led the team in receptions and receiving yards but those stats don't even tell the story.
After Zach Wilson turned the ball over by throwing his second interception, the Patriots put together a six-play drive that mostly featured White. He caught a short pass on 1st and 10 that White turned into a 28 yard gain. On the very next play, White rushed for five yards. After an incompletion to Bourne that was wiped out due to a Jets penalty, a short run by Damien Harris for two yards, and then a 19-yard completion to Jonnu Smith, the rest of that scoring drive was all about White.
On first and 10 at the Jets 14-yard line, White took a handoff up the middle for seven yards. White scored on a seven-yard run to give the Patriots an early 10-0 lead.
“James is one of our best players. He has tremendous consistency, he can really do whatever we ask him to do – third down, first down, run the ball, catch it, blitz pick up. He gives that group great leadership with his preparation and performance, he is always ready to go on game day. Whatever you need him to do, that’s a guy you can really count on, and yeah he came through big today. He was able to make a number of good plays for us – runs and passes and some key plays. He’s a guy we really count on and he delivers.”
You can totally see why Belichick holds White in high regard.
The former Wisconsin Badger is now in his eighth season in New England. Granted he did not play much his rookie year, but in seven seasons now, White has amassed 381 receptions, 3,278 receiving yards, and 25 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 1,272 career yards, with 11 rushing touchdowns. It is still very early in the season, so those numbers are only going to improve upon what has already been an exceptional career.