Sony Michel’s Importance to Patriots
Sony Michel has been one of the most important pieces in this Patriot offense. Since Week 2, all the rookie running back did was improve and get better each week. With injuries to Rex Burkhead and Jeremy Hill, suddenly the rookie was the main focal point.
Michel played his first NFL game in Week 2 and was still getting used to the offense and playbook. He didn’t have a preseason, but he used Weeks 2 and 3 to get himself acclimated to this complicated offense.
Week 4 Was The Turning Point
Of course, James White is still involved as he is on a historic pace for receptions by a running back. He isn’t the early down back this team needs, he’s perfect in his role. Adding more to Whites plate could result in another loss, to what was once a crowded backfield.
James White is teaching Michel everything he knows. It showed in a week 4 win over Miami. Sony Michel broke out for 112 yards on 25 carries averaging 4.48 yards per carry. Week 5 was more of the same as Michel rushed for 98 yards averaging 5.44 yards per carry. Michel scored a touchdown both weeks.
New England’s Offense is playing great football, using the ground game to set up the pass. When week 6 came it seemed obvious that Sony was worth the high draft pick. Sony Michel did not disappoint turning in a great game for the third week in a row, it was no fluke. The rookie rushed for 106 yards averaging 4.42 yards per carry, scoring two touchdowns as the Patriots kept their win streak going.
Patriots Offense Without Sony Michel
Sony Michel was looking like a seasoned veteran, riding a hot streak with 4 touchdowns in his last three games. While his counterpart James White was catching passes out of the backfield, New England’s running backs were playing at a very high level.
Unfortunately just 4 rush attempts into week 7 against Chicago, Michel went down with what looked to be a season ending injury. All of New England held their breath as they watched this dynamic rookie get helped off the field. Fans and teammates fearful it could be the last time he played in 2018. During Sony’s absence during that game James White and Kenyon Barner stepped in and played well enough to contribute to the win. James White is a great running back, he’s not a guy who is going to take it 25 times a game and hit the hole. He has his own role carved out, and he’s done it better than anyone before him.
Sony Michel’s absence really showed up against the Bills on Monday Night. Barner was nowhere to be found, while White was still amazing as a pass catcher. New England was really missing the early down back Michel had turned into. Josh McDaniels used WR Cordarrelle Patterson and James White to fill Michel’s spot and it wasn’t pretty. Without Sony, this offense is very unbalanced, and the red zone may be where the rookie is missed most. Field goals instead of touchdowns were an issue Monday night, the Michel and White combo will change that.
To Play or Not to Play…What Will the Patriots Do?
New England needs Sony back to get those short yards on third down or in the red zone. He’s questionable for Week 9 against GB, his importance can’t be understated. I’m not sure if Bill Belichick is going to play him Sunday night, or if we won’t see him again until after the bye in week 12. Michel seems to be trending in the right direction and could quite possibly play against the Packers. New England knows the positive effect this rookie running back has on every single player on this team. So they will not rush him back if he’s not ready, he is the only early down back N.E has. When he does return, Sony will allow the offense to look like it did Weeks 4-6 and the offense will run much better than it did last week.