Explaining Woodhead over Ridley

Many fans in our ESPNBoston.com in-game chat last night were scratching their heads over why Danny Woodhead was getting more offensive snaps in the backfield than Stevan Ridley.

Ridley, after all, had established himself as the team’s top ball carrier and had nearly 200 rushing yards over the first two games of the season. So why, then, was Woodhead on the field for 51 of the team’s 82 snaps while Ridley only got 26 snaps?

Here are a couple of our pundits with their takes on the playing time discrepancy:

* ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss: With the Patriots pressing the issue with the no-huddle, it called on third-down/passing back Woodhead getting the majority of the snaps over Ridley. The Patriots were going primarily with their three-receiver package and playing fast. They wanted a change-of-pace back, a top pass-protector, in the game for that. The Patriots have done this for years. Think back to the mid-2000s, when they often subbed in Kevin Faulk over Corey Dillon in these packages.

* ESPNBoston.com's Tedy Bruschi: The Patriots have defined roles for their running backs. When they want a physical presence with the run game, Ridley comes in. Bring in the tight ends, run the zone blocking scheme, let him stretch the defense and make one cut and run downhill. He's the best they have to do that. Woodhead's role is the sub back. Runs out of shotgun. Draws. Not the workhorse back, but a complementary back when they are in their spread packages. That's what they were majoring in last night.

The Patriots lined up in a three-receiver set on 60 of 82 snaps last night.