New England Patriots: Why Sony Michel was team’s 2018 MVP

FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 30: Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 30: Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots have won their sixth Super Bowl title greatly in due part to the legs of Sony Michel.

To say the New England Patriots had a wild season is quite the understatement. The team went just 3-5 on the road, including a throttling in Tennessee and meltdown in Miami.  Then at home, they went 8-0, topping the AFC’s best team in the Chiefs and dominating divisional opponents.

When the playoffs rolled around, it was business as usual. The dominant performance over the Chargers, a clutch win against the Chiefs, and then the eventual Super Bowl triumph over the Rams. It was incredible, and now it is time to reflect.

Almost every year you can say Bill Belichick is the MVP. He is the greatest mind the game has ever seen and schematically is in a different stratosphere than almost all of his oppositions.  To be fair, Bill needs the talent on the team in order to live out his genius. The popular player MVP choice will be, of course, Tom Brady.

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TB12 is the GOAT and of course, had a fantastic 2018 campaign, so it makes sense that most would look to him as the main source of the team’s success in 2018. However, the Patriots would not have been in or won the Super Bowl without Sony Michel.

Why Sony is so Vital

There was a mix of emotions felt through Patriots Nation during the 2018 NFL Draft when Roger Goodell announced that with the 31st pick of the 1st round that the Patriots selected running back Sony Michel out of the University of Georgia.

Michel was one of the most electrifying college football players I’ve ever seen, and his Rose Bowl game against Oklahoma is one of the best performances from a running back you will ever see.

For those reasons fans have reason to be optimistic, Tom Brady is getting a legitimate three-down back, and it will take some of the load off his shoulders.

However, at the same time, it seemed like the pick was a reach, due to the questions swirling around the effectiveness he would have at the next level due to his “bone on bone”  case in his knee. It is safe to say, the pick was worth it.

As soon he was inserted into the offense on a consistent basis it was clear he was not like the other backs on the roster.

Sure James White is a receiving monster out of the backfield but clearly lacks the edge to be a consistent runner.

Once Michel was shown to be explosive and effective with the ball coming out of the backfield, it opened an entirely new element for the Patriots. No longer would Tom Brady have to be the only source of consistent offense for the team.

Now, of course, Sony split carries, but when he got the bulk of the running load it was clear something special was brewing., Brady has not reached the metaphorical “cliff” but it was evident his play did dip a little bit in terms of overall production. When he wasn’t playing up to his GOAT status, pounding the ball between the B gap with Michel was reliable.

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He only started 8 games, and still found a way to amass over 931 yards on the ground along with adding 6 touchdowns. Although Edelman garnered all the headlines, Michel was the reason New England was so effective on the ground in the playoffs. Throughout the postseason, Sony Michel averaged 112 yards a game and had 6 rushing touchdowns.

The media tend to diminish how important the ground game is in the postseason. James White is a fantastic back, but runs mostly out of shotgun formations, and does affect the defense as much from a schematic standpoint. The postseason is a key time where offenses need to make defenses adjust, or they will have a rough time getting going. Michel added that extra element that was sorely lacking and it showed.

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The Patriots most definitely did not have the most talented roster in the playoffs, but it was the play calling and coaching that put the Pats on another level. Without Michels production, it is  possible the New England Patriots would not have a 6th Lombardi. He might have not put up the best stats at the position, or be the flashiest name, but his mere presence on the field was a major contribution to this team.