By: Andrew Parker
So in a previous piece I had written all the way back in the regular season right after the Patriots had come off of a terrible loss to the Steelers, I had pretty much stated that the Patriots were going to be fine.
I successfully predicted the Pats winning out against Buffalo and New York (obvious), locking into that two seed to get a first round bye (not bad), and also beating the Ravens or Chargers in the divisional round (impressive).
Okay that is enough praising my predictions. Let’s take a dive into some huge talking points regarding how the Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl for the NINTH time in the Brady-Belichick era, and a rookie who helped steer the way.
The Rookie Lives Up to the Hype
The last time the New England Patriots selected a running back in the first round of the NFL draft it was 2006, and they used the 21st overall pick on Laurence Maroney. Sure, Maroney was a serviceable starter after being selected by the Patriots, but only racking up 2,504 rushing yards and being out of the league just four years after being drafted is not a great first round pick investment. Based off of recent draft history during the Belichick era, Bill has seemed to steer very clear of using those first round selections on the running back or wide receiver position. Fast forward to 2018’s draft, and it seems the Patriots wanted to take a shot at it again.
Enter Sony Michel.
The Patriots used the 31st overall pick on Michel and based on the initial results, it seems this one could be different than the last time.
The University of Georgia is being referred to now as “RBU” or “Running Back University”. How crazy is it that Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, AND Sony Michel were all part of the same backfield at once? Mind blowing. It can be argued that Sony Michel’s draft stock slipped a bit, mostly from sharing a workload with the two other RBs pictured above. The Patriots may have gotten an absolute steal at the 31st pick. One would have to believe that if Michel did not have to compete for playing time with the other two, his exposure could have led him to being a top 10 pick in the draft.
Sony Michel has very quietly put together a strong rookie campaign, despite all eyes being on the likes of fellow rookies Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley. Injuries have limited Michel for some of 2018-19, as he missed three games and was limited in a couple others he suited up for. He finished his first year with a very respectable 931 rushing yards, which was the 15th best in the NFL along with six touchdowns.
Want to know the most impressive part? His playoff numbers.
Michel is leading the postseason in rushing yards and rushing TDs, which is impressive in itself. The Chargers had a very respectable defense this year, meanwhile the Chiefs certainly did not. But to say the least, a rookie in his first playoff action of his career did not look the part. He kept chugging along looking like a true seasoned vet. The true test will be this Super Bowl match-up against the Rams. With Aaron Donald, Suh, and Brockers all clogging up the run lanes, it will be an interesting contest to watch as Michel tries to carve up the Rams’ front line like he has all postseason against the AFC’s best teams.
What makes the Patriots so special this year?
They finally have a run game that defenses have to respect, and it then gives Brady a chance to spread the field and find openings in the pass game. You can’t help but to look at Sony Michel as a huge reason why that is the case this year. Michel has been my pick for Patriots MVP this year, and I really don’t think it’s even close.
Cover photo via: Adam Glanzman – Getty Images
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