New England Patriots running back Sony Michel had a very impressive rookie campaign, rushing for 931 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry over 13 games.
He then had a monster playoff run, totaling 336 yards while punching in six scores en route to helping the Patriots win the Super Bowl.
But what should we expect from Michel in 2019?
It doesn’t seem like New England is entirely committed to him as its every-down back, as the Pats seem to really like rookie halfback Damien Harris, and James White and Rex Burkhead are still around.
So, here are three numbers for Michel to target this year?
3. 30 Receptions
The biggest issue with Michel is that he does not even resemble a receiving threat out of the backfield, as he logged just seven catches during his rookie season.
I understand that White is the main receiving running back for the Patriots, but Michel only catching seven passes is pretty inexcusable no matter how you look at it.
In order for Michel to truly separate himself from the pack and establish himself as the clear-cut No. 1 back for New England going forward, he is going to have to become a better pass-catcher.
Michel snared just 64 balls over four collegiate seasons at Georgia, with his best year as a receiver coming during his sophomore season when he hauled in 26 receptions.
How about logging 30 catches in his second NFL season? That is certainly not too tall of a task for an NFL running back.
2. 1,000 Yards
With Harris appearing to be hot on his tail, there is a chance that Michel won’t even get enough touches to accumulate 1,000 yards, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t at least make it a goal.
After all, had Michel not missed three games in 2018, he surely would have tallied 1,000 yards in his rookie year, as the 71.6 yards he averaged per game translate to 1,146 yards over the course of a full 16-game campaign.
It’s been a while since the Patriots have had a bona fide running back, as they tend to just shuffle guys through their system, but Michel seems to be the first one in quite some time that may have some staying power as a lead back.
So long as Michel gets the touches (which is a big question mark), he should total 1,000 yards on the ground, especially considering that New England’s passing game may be lacking a bit in 2019.
1. 10 Touchdowns
If Michel can post six touchdowns in three playoff games, then he is certainly capable of scoring 10 touchdowns over a full 16-game season.
Of course, things do change in the postseason, so Michel may not be able to replicate what he did this past winter during the 2019 regular season, but it’s obvious that he has the ability to punch in scores better than a lot of other running backs.
Michel doesn’t have blazing speed, but he has really good field vision and can push through contact, which are the two biggest keys in being a reliable red zone running back.
Scoring 10 touchdowns is a tall task for running backs in this pass-heavy age of NFL offenses, but Michel is capable of it provided that he gets enough opportunities.