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MORSE: Sony Michel Trade and Mac Jones as the Starter

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
4 weeks ago at 10:41 pm ET

MORSE: Sony Michel Trade and Mac Jones as the StarterBrian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade that sent Sony Michel to the LA Rams, I thought I would highlight some of the things I wrote about Michel, comments made by posters, and my thoughts on the trade itself.

This is what I wrote in my analysis of the Running Back position back on June 30th.

Sony Michel – The Patriots did not pick up the 5th year option on Michel.  That should say volumes what the Patriots think of him.  They drafted him knowing he had a knee issue, and it only got worse.  In his rookie season, he ran for 931 yards and a 4.5 average but missed 3 games.  In 2019 he ran for 912 but his average dropped to 3.7 yards per carry.  He played in all 16 games that year.  This past season his knee flared up again and he missed 5 games but his yards per carry jumped to 5.7 yards per carry.  That was impressive that both he and Harris averaged over 5 yards per carry.  Michel lacks breakaway speed and is a sub-par receiver.  The 2018 1st round selection #31 must be characterized as a bust.  Michel is in a battle for a roster position.

Patfans Posters TheRainMaker, mgteich, and 50-yard-line took me to task on Sony Michel, especially the comment about being a bust.

Michel played behind that atrocious 2019 OL.
Michel had a better YPC by almost .7 yards than Harris last year
Michel is a much better pass protector.
Michel didn’t get a redshirt year to learn the game speed and such was thrown in as a rookie and is a big reason they lifted the trophy in 2018.

When a poster makes solid points as they did, I go back and check.  Some of their points are correct which surprised the heck out of me. Michel’s 3.7 YPC in 2019 can be attributed to the poor O Line play. During the playoff run in 2018, culminating in the 13-3 victory in Super Bowl LIII, Michel was tremendous. He ran for 94 yards, and a TD on 18 carries in the Super Bowl. The Pats wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl or even made the playoffs if it wasn’t for Michel.  So characterizing Michel as a bust was unfair.

In my original roster projection (not submitted for release) I had Michel getting traded.  I changed that opinion in my Pre-Training Camp roster projection.  I said to watch the play of Rhamondre Stevenson as it would directly affect Michel.  Stevenson went from needing to work on everything, per RB coach Ivan Fears, to the #2 back behind Harris.  Thus Michel was expendable.

This pre-season Michel had demonstrated an improved ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and in fact, led the team in receptions against the Eagles.  He made a couple of good catches on poorly thrown balls.  This has been a knock on Michel since entering the league.

The biggest issue with Michel is his history of knee problems.  The Patriots drafted him knowing that his knee was not going to get better and he had a bone-on-bone issue.  I saw one national report that said he may not pass his physical with LAR!

The compensation for Michel was going to be a conditional 4th round pick from LA, but the league nixed that trade due to a change that didn’t allow trades of a potential compensation pick.  The trade ended up as a 2022 6th round and a 2023 4th.  Considering Michel’s injury history and the fact that he is in the last year of his contract and an Un-restricted Free Agent next year, I think that’s fair compensation.

Mac Jones as the starter

Jeff Howe tweeted out these numbers for Jones.  From Aug 4-24, in six competitive practices against the first-team defense Jones was 41 – 55 (74.5%) with 2 INTs.  The Patriots’ defense has been projected to be a top 5 defense in the league this year.  Add to that the impressive work that Jones accomplished against the NY Giants in Wednesday’s joint practice (35-40, including a phenomenal 18 completions in a row) Jones should be named the week 1 starter.  Granted, several of these passes were underneath, but he also showed great touch on a wheel route to James White.  On the play, White got held up at the line of scrimmage, and Jones made the pass before White had turned to look for the ball.  White made the adjustment to the ball and made a big reception for over 20 yards setting up an FG in the 2-minute drill.  The best pass of the day was a 50-yard bomb to Jakobi Myers on a post corner route.  Myers beat two defenders for the TD grab.

Cam Newton opened the door for Jones to show what he can do, working with the first-team unit and he took advantage of it showcasing his abilities.  Newton’s absence opened a crack and Jones came rushing through.  Add this to the fact that Newton is not vaccinated and cannot be relied on to be available, which should make the selection of Jones simple.  I will add that Tom Brady never had these types of opportunities as a rookie.  Jones has proven he is a leader, understands the playbook, and can execute in the tight windows of the 2-minute drill and no-huddle offense.  Jones takes what the defense is giving him.  I will also add that the Giants’ defense last season was ranked 11th in the league.

Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Training Camp

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