A Deeper Dive: Sony Michel Trade

Sony Michel
PC: Ashley Landis, AP

When Sony Michel was drafted in the first round by the Patriots, expectations were high. His rookie year was great. He was especially important in the playoff run which was capped by beating the Rams in the Super Bowl. Michel scored the only touchdown in the game. After breaking team records in the playoffs, his production wasn’t the same.

In a crowded backfield, New England backs never know how much time they will get. Sony Michel fell out of favor especially in 2020 totaling only 449 yards and one touchdown. That’s quite the drop from the 336 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie postseason and just under one thousand yards in his first regular season.

Pros and Cons: Patriots Standpoint

Pros: With the emergence of Damien Harris, rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, and J.J Taylor, Michel would have gotten lost in the ball carrer shuffle. He also would have kept Taylor from making the team. The Patriots also have James White and Brandon Bolden on the roster. White is mostly a receiver out of the backfield but has gotten integrated into the running a game bit with creative play designs. Bolden is mainly a special teamer at this point. However, he can fill in when needed. In the grand scheme of things, that is way too many running backs if Michel were to have stayed. The Pats declined his fifth year option and he probably wasn’t going to be with the team moving forward. They were able to get a sixth and future fourth round pick by parting with him early.

Cons: Michel was looking pretty good in the preseason. It wasn’t Doak Walker or Walter Payton out there, but it was a good showing. If Michel turns out to be great with the Rams and the other backs don’t work out, the Patriots are going to have egg all over their face. Michel was showing that same pop that he had his rookie year and at Georgia both in the running and passing game.

Pros and Cons: Rams Standpoint

Pros: The Rams did not have to give up that much to get him. Michel garnered some value to make him tradeable, but to the point where you had to break the bank to get him. Cam Akers went down with an achilles injury for the season. Darrell Henderson is banged up. Michel is in position to play right away. This trade also fills a need for the Rams.

Cons: This is more about scheme. In New England, it seemed like Michel could only run effectively with a fullback leading the way for him. The Rams have none of that in their offense. It’s the spread offense either in 11 or 12 personnel. 11 means three receivers and one tight end. 12 means two tight ends.

The Sean McVay system never uses 21 or 22 personnel, which what the Patriots did to get Michel going. 21 means an I formation with two receivers is one tight end. 22 means two tight ends and one receiver in the I formation. Michel wasn’t as effective in the spread sets. Even in Georgia they had a balance of under center and shotgun handoffs. While Rams to have a fair mix as well, Michel has yet to show that he can be a good runner in the NFL spread or run without a fullback in the NFL. The read option could open things up a little bit, but Stafford won’t be running that in LA. Run pass options are probably the way to go if they plan to use more spread running plays. Michel was also effective running the wild dog (the Georgia version if the wildcat) in college.

Sony Michel is getting a fresh start. It’s up to him to take advantage of this new opportunity.

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