The New England Patriots have been one of the league’s worst rushing teams in 2019 so far. Ironically, New England’s ground game was unstoppable during last year’s Super Bowl run, yet Sony Michel and the rest of the Patriots’ backfield have yet to kick into gear in 2019.
Ranking 21st in the NFL this season, the Patriots average just 101.5 rushing yards per game but are 27th averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Sony Michel has been par for the course, individually averaging 3.5 yards per carry following a rookie season in which he struck 4.5 yards a rush.
When Michel has had additional run-blockers in the game, namely Matt LaCosse, James Develin, and Jakob Johnson, he has performed exceedingly better than when that trio has been absent. Especially LaCosse, who missed two games already in which Michel rushed for a total of 25 yards.
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Sony Michel Matchup vs Jets
One of those games LaCosse missed came against the Jets in Week 3 when Michel rushed for a season-low 11 yards on just nine carries. As a team that day, the Patriots rushed for just 68 yards on 27 carries, including two touchdowns.
The Jets currently rank 13th in league rushing defense allowing opponents an average of 95 yards per game. But the Jets are one of 13 teams to allow more than six rushing touchdowns this season, surrendering seven scores on the ground to date. One of those came via the legs of Sony Michel, who found a whole on a rushing score in Week 3.
Last season, when Michel played against the Jets at Metlife Stadium, he set a career-high in single-game rushing yards by amassing 133 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. He also caught a pair of passes for 12 yards and played in 43 percent of offensive snaps.
Even this season, Michel has been a much better running back on the road than at home. His two of his three highest yardage totals of the season came away from Gillette Stadium — 91 at Washington and 83 at Miami.
It will also be Michel’s Monday Night Football debut as he was injured for the Patriots meeting at Buffalo last season in primetime. That could add some pressure for Michel, who has exceeded 100 yards in a primetime game just once — last season against Kansas City at home.
Should You Start Michel vs Jets
It’s not that Michel has been bad this season. He just hasn’t been as productive as he was a year ago. His yards per carry has taken a hit with injuries up front forcing the Patriots to embrace a more pass-heavy offense.
Encouragingly, Michel has gotten more involved in the passing game this season allowing New England to be less predictable with Sony in the game. With no LaCosse or Johnson on Monday and possibly no Ryan Izzo either, the Patriots tight end duo of Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson may not be able to provide adequate run protection for Michel to hit his gaps quick enough.
So this week, keep Sony Michel on your bench.