2020 Pats: General/Non-QB Off-Season Discussion

BigSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
May 31, 2007
34,738
Two picks I'll never understand was Michel over Chubb and Jermaine Cunningham over Carlos Dunlap. They both went to the same schools and in both cases the higher rated player was passed over. 2010 draft was a franchising altering draft regardless so can't complain too much but Dunlap is still in the NFL and Cunningham retired in 2014 after 38 games.
I was definitely excited about Michel so I can’t complain without being a massive hypocrite but I really want to know where the explosive version we saw at UGA went. Clearly, injuries have sapped that but it’s astonishing the difference there. He was a very valuable piece of a title team so hard to fully lament but really just wish we got to see the college version of him.

As for Dunlap, I was really disappointed at the time that we passed on him. He was clearly the better player to me. Haven’t been that annoyed since the Celtics went JR Giddens over DeAndre Jordan.
 

Jed Zeppelin

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 23, 2008
37,848
What was the surgery actually for? Conspicuously absent from the article, aside from "discomfort."
 

Shelterdog

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Feb 19, 2002
11,781
New York City
I was definitely excited about Michel so I can’t complain without being a massive hypocrite but I really want to know where the explosive version we saw at UGA went. Clearly, injuries have sapped that but it’s astonishing the difference there. He was a very valuable piece of a title team so hard to fully lament but really just wish we got to see the college version of him.

As for Dunlap, I was really disappointed at the time that we passed on him. He was clearly the better player to me. Haven’t been that annoyed since the Celtics went JR Giddens over DeAndre Jordan.
It looks like they had him put on about 15 pounds so that's part of it. I thought he showed the explosiveness the second half of his rookie year and thought it was coming back a little the end of his second year, but a lot of the issue is running backs just aren't going to easily pull away from linebackers and even safeties in the pros,
 

SMU_Sox

loves his fluffykins
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2009
6,554
Dallas
I rewatched 8 games from last season on game pass. Honestly I think I watched them all close to 8 x 8 x 2 (offense and defense). I focused on different players or personnel groups each time. I wanted to get a good base line for performance for next year.

Some observations on the RB room.

1) I’m very down on Sony. He looks nothing like the guy I saw at UGA who was a home-run threat as well as had some great contact balance and burst/explosion too. Bouncing runs outside is way more prevalent in the college environment and not something you project for most runners going to the NFL but where’s the juice? Where is his ability to make cuts and accelerate? His end of year review for me is this: only gets what is blocked for him, has no contact balance, has no burst. Has no wiggle. Is an awful receiver. Routes are stiff and robotic. Has stone hands. He was excellent in pass pro though! He does a good job of selling play-action. He practices good ball security. Go watch him vs Oklahoma in technically 2018 and him vs Miami. Not the same guy. He does finish runs well and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder.

2) Burkhead is such a superior zone runner. Watch how Burkhead sets up defenders and then cuts away from them. He can actually string moves together. Rex is a good one initial cut RB too. Oh and Burkhead is a decent receiver especially working the slot. Rex has great start-stop and COD as a runner and that translates as well to him as a receiver. (HT Dave I think maybe on that last note). Most of Sony’s runs are gap or man concepts. I should have tracked it but I think the majority of Rex’s or plurality were zone runs. If Burkhead had better durability he would make a perfect 50/50 committee back. He also plays ST. He is the best well-rounded back on the Pats.

3) I got to watching 2017 Harris tape. I might regret this if Sony bounces back but I think what I saw of Harris in college is more intriguing than 2019 Michel. I would not be surprised if we’re talking about Sony as a bust and if he loses his lead back role to Harris this upcoming year. Harris reminds me a lot of Sony now stylistically but I think he has better decision making (quicker too) in tight areas. He doesn’t have any elite traits but does a lot well. I like some of his patience and elusiveness too. He will put his head down and consistently finish runs. I thought he ran his check down routes very well and worked back to his QB.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
I rewatched 8 games from last season on game pass. Honestly I think I watched them all close to 8 x 8 x 2 (offense and defense). I focused on different players or personnel groups each time. I wanted to get a good base line for performance for next year.

Some observations on the RB room.

1) I’m very down on Sony. He looks nothing like the guy I saw at UGA who was a home-run threat as well as had some great contact balance and burst/explosion too. Bouncing runs outside is way more prevalent in the college environment and not something you project for most runners going to the NFL but where’s the juice? Where is his ability to make cuts and accelerate? His end of year review for me is this: only gets what is blocked for him, has no contact balance, has no burst. Has no wiggle. Is an awful receiver. Routes are stiff and robotic. Has stone hands. He was excellent in pass pro though! He does a good job of selling play-action. He practices good ball security. Go watch him vs Oklahoma in technically 2018 and him vs Miami. Not the same guy. He does finish runs well and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder.

2) Burkhead is such a superior zone runner. Watch how Burkhead sets up defenders and then cuts away from them. He can actually string moves together. Rex is a good one initial cut RB too. Oh and Burkhead is a decent receiver especially working the slot. Rex has great start-stop and COD as a runner and that translates as well to him as a receiver. (HT Dave I think maybe on that last note). Most of Sony’s runs are gap or man concepts. I should have tracked it but I think the majority of Rex’s or plurality were zone runs. If Burkhead had better durability he would make a perfect 50/50 committee back. He also plays ST. He is the best well-rounded back on the Pats.

3) I got to watching 2017 Harris tape. I might regret this if Sony bounces back but I think what I saw of Harris in college is more intriguing than 2019 Michel. I would not be surprised if we’re talking about Sony as a bust and if he loses his lead back role to Harris this upcoming year. Harris reminds me a lot of Sony now stylistically but I think he has better decision making (quicker too) in tight areas. He doesn’t have any elite traits but does a lot well. I like some of his patience and elusiveness too. He will put his head down and consistently finish runs. I thought he ran his check down routes very well and worked back to his QB.
I know you want more out of a first round pick, especially if he may have been gotten in a later round. But...

Let's say Sony has a 500 yard, 5 TD season and then is out of football for good. That would mean in three years, he would have amassed ~2300 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns, and been a key contributor to a Super Bowl winning team.

Is that a "bust"? I dunno. It's certainly disappointing, but lots of even first round guys would have given their left arm to have that kind of career. And lots of teams would be thrilled to get that from a first round pick.
 

SMU_Sox

loves his fluffykins
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2009
6,554
Dallas
I was very high on Michel and Chubb @BaseballJones . I still have cognitive dissonance watching Sony on the Pats because it’s like - YOU ARE a POD person! You have been body snatched! Busts happen. I don’t mind taking a RB at 31 even though I think y’all know I was on the Lamar Jackson bandwagon.
 

j44thor

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
9,466
The thing about Sony that gets lost in his college production is that almost all of it came against light boxes. He looked good because he had massive lanes and an elite OL paving the way. Chubb was the guy running against loaded boxes on 1/2 down.
I did think Sony looked explosive last pre-season and then that guy never showed up in the reg season. Wonder if he just looked good in pre-season due to the level of competition or if he picked up a nagging injury early in season that sapped his burst.
 

Zedia

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
4,151
Pasadena, CA
I know you want more out of a first round pick, especially if he may have been gotten in a later round. But...

Let's say Sony has a 500 yard, 5 TD season and then is out of football for good. That would mean in three years, he would have amassed ~2300 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns, and been a key contributor to a Super Bowl winning team.

Is that a "bust"? I dunno. It's certainly disappointing, but lots of even first round guys would have given their left arm to have that kind of career. And lots of teams would be thrilled to get that from a first round pick.
Was Laurence Maroney a bust?
 

SMU_Sox

loves his fluffykins
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2009
6,554
Dallas
The thing about Sony that gets lost in his college production is that almost all of it came against light boxes. He looked good because he had massive lanes and an elite OL paving the way. Chubb was the guy running against loaded boxes on 1/2 down.
I did think Sony looked explosive last pre-season and then that guy never showed up in the reg season. Wonder if he just looked good in pre-season due to the level of competition or if he picked up a nagging injury early in season that sapped his burst.
Any chance you have the stats to back that up? I note that stuff NOW but back in 2017/2018 I wasn't noting it as often. Honestly I didn't think he ran a ton against light boxes. He did get some huge holes though - even when he didn't he was good at getting skinny to the hole. I did have Chubb ranked higher than Sony as a pure runner but I thought Sony would develop as a good receiving RB too and be that complete back. I believe you, I just like to be able to see the data too to support your theory :) because I did not see that.
 

SMU_Sox

loves his fluffykins
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2009
6,554
Dallas
So @BaseballJones I think when you pick at 31 you are looking at a 50/50 shot of being a bust anyway more or less. I actually thought he was a fairly safe pick too as he had so many above average traits. The only thing that gave me pause with Sony was Lombardi saying he had a bone-on-bone knee injury that was fairly serious. Also, while he flashed as a receiver he had a long way to go there especially as a route runner.
But yeah if he is 500/5TD he'd be a bust to me. He got those yards because of the OL imo and not because of his skill which means he would have been, IN THEORY, a replaceable talent. If he had better yards after contact or elusiveness I would argue he wasn't a bust but his career was just cut short and he was good when he was not injured. Not trying to split hairs but it's a nuanced topic.
 

j44thor

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
9,466
Any chance you have the stats to back that up? I note that stuff NOW but back in 2017/2018 I wasn't noting it as often. Honestly I didn't think he ran a ton against light boxes. He did get some huge holes though - even when he didn't he was good at getting skinny to the hole. I did have Chubb ranked higher than Sony as a pure runner but I thought Sony would develop as a good receiving RB too and be that complete back. I believe you, I just like to be able to see the data too to support your theory :) because I did not see that.
This is what I read though admit I didn't vet it but they cite credible sources. Link
 

BigSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
May 31, 2007
34,738
So @BaseballJones I think when you pick at 31 you are looking at a 50/50 shot of being a bust anyway more or less. I actually thought he was a fairly safe pick too as he had so many above average traits. The only thing that gave me pause with Sony was Lombardi saying he had a bone-on-bone knee injury that was fairly serious. Also, while he flashed as a receiver he had a long way to go there especially as a route runner.
But yeah if he is 500/5TD he'd be a bust to me. He got those yards because of the OL imo and not because of his skill which means he would have been, IN THEORY, a replaceable talent. If he had better yards after contact or elusiveness I would argue he wasn't a bust but his career was just cut short and he was good when he was not injured. Not trying to split hairs but it's a nuanced topic.
You think any chance for improvement with a different QB?

(I’m desperate)
 

E5 Yaz

Transcends message boarding
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 25, 2002
64,419
Oregon
The running back shelf-life, in the non Gore/Peterson Division, is pretty short. Would anyone be upset about Sony if Damien Harris were to emerge and have a great year?

I hope the foot injury and the down year for the line were the issues for Michel. We all also suspect the Patriots will be run oriented out of the gate this season.

If we have indeed seen the best version of Sony that we're going to get, the Super Bowl playoff run was good enough for me
 

Super Nomario

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 5, 2000
12,757
Mansfield MA
I know you want more out of a first round pick, especially if he may have been gotten in a later round. But...

Let's say Sony has a 500 yard, 5 TD season and then is out of football for good. That would mean in three years, he would have amassed ~2300 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns, and been a key contributor to a Super Bowl winning team.

Is that a "bust"? I dunno. It's certainly disappointing, but lots of even first round guys would have given their left arm to have that kind of career. And lots of teams would be thrilled to get that from a first round pick.
I would. Laurence Maroney had 2430 rush yards for the Patriots and 21 TDs, plus another 400-something yards in the air. It puts him in range of notable busts like Ron Dayne (2337 yards, 17 TDs), Beanie Wells (2471 yards, 24 TDs), Donald Brown (2,377 yards, 17 TDs). It is definitely a below-average career for a first-round RB. It is basically as bad as it gets for a guy who gets actual playing time.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
I would. Laurence Maroney had 2430 rush yards for the Patriots and 21 TDs, plus another 400-something yards in the air. It puts him in range of notable busts like Ron Dayne (2337 yards, 17 TDs), Beanie Wells (2471 yards, 24 TDs), Donald Brown (2,377 yards, 17 TDs). It is definitely a below-average career for a first-round RB. It is basically as bad as it gets for a guy who gets actual playing time.
Fair, but once again, Michel was a key player during a Super Bowl winning postseason run. Let me remind people...

vs. LAC: 24 att, 129 yds, 5.4 avg, 3 td
vs. KC: 29 att, 113 yds, 3.9 avg, 2 td
vs. LAR: 18 att, 94 yds, 5.2 avg, 1 td (the only one of the game)
TOT: 71 att, 336 yds, 4.7 avg, 6 td

So yeah, Maroney or Dayne or Wells or Brown never did anything like that. And yes, it totally matters when considering whether a guy's a bust or not, IMO.
 

Zedia

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
4,151
Pasadena, CA
Maroney was never a key player on a Super Bowl winning team. So I'm not sure it matters what my answer is to that question.
C’mon, Maroney is a pretty good comp (IF Sony gets the numbers you suggest). He was the lead back for an undefeated team, “key player on a Super Bowl winning team” is nonsense.

edit - I missed your playoffs post. Sony had a great run. Maroney didn’t have a great Super Bowl, but his numbers over three games that post season were 280 with 3 TDs. He was a helmet catch away from being a “key player on a Super Bowl winning team.”
 
Last edited:

Mystic Merlin

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 21, 2007
32,731
Hartford, CT
Maroney is interesting because he legitimately flashed physicality and explosiveness in the running game early in his career. I wouldn’t say I’m seeing the same ability out Michel, who honestly seems average to me in that he takes what the OL gives him. Both were/are non-factors in the passing game, though I’d argue that’s a bigger problem with Michel given the increased prominence of backs in the modern passing game as well as the increased number of backs in the league who can contribute in today’s passing game. The Pats have featured the back in the passing game for years, of course, but having a guy on the field whose presence is almost a veritable run/pass key for the D (or can at least be considered a non factor in the passing game from a matchup perspective) is a bigger disappointment given they could’ve acquired any number of other players who can contribute in the passing game.

Maroney, who ultimately disappointed, is actually a charitable comp for Michel.
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
16,839
Fair, but once again, Michel was a key player during a Super Bowl winning postseason run. Let me remind people...

vs. LAC: 24 att, 129 yds, 5.4 avg, 3 td
vs. KC: 29 att, 113 yds, 3.9 avg, 2 td
vs. LAR: 18 att, 94 yds, 5.2 avg, 1 td (the only one of the game)
TOT: 71 att, 336 yds, 4.7 avg, 6 td

So yeah, Maroney or Dayne or Wells or Brown never did anything like that. And yes, it totally matters when considering whether a guy's a bust or not, IMO.
All that really means is he happened to be on a good team
 

Super Nomario

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 5, 2000
12,757
Mansfield MA
Fair, but once again, Michel was a key player during a Super Bowl winning postseason run. Let me remind people...
I don't know why you bothered with the other stats then, because they are not good.

You're basically arguing those three games outweigh everything else. I don't think those three games were really that special, looking at the context of those performances (a lot of goal line TD vulturing), but it's a matter of philosophy.

Maroney is interesting because he legitimately flashed physicality and explosiveness in the running game early in his career. I wouldn’t say I’m seeing the same ability out Michel, who honestly seems average to me in that he takes what the OL gives him. Both were/are non-factors in the passing game, though I’d argue that’s a bigger problem with Michel given the increased prominence of backs in the modern passing game as well as the increased number of backs in the league who can contribute in today’s passing game. The Pats have featured the back in the passing game for years, of course, but having a guy on the field whose presence is almost a veritable run/pass key for the D (or can at least be considered a non factor in the passing game from a matchup perspective) is a bigger disappointment given they could’ve acquired any number of other players who can contribute in the passing game.

Maroney, who ultimately disappointed, is actually a charitable comp for Michel.
Agreed; people are forgetting how good Maroney looked through two seasons. Maroney was a lot more effective in the passing game, too. He had 194 receiving yards in 14 games as a rookie; Michel has 144 in 29 games to date.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
24,273
Hingham, MA
Maroney went 22-122 and 25-122 with a TD in each game leading up to the Scottish Game, then also scored in that game. Had the Tyree catch never happened he’d have been a hero too.
 

j44thor

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
9,466
Uh....he was fantastic in the playoffs. Why are people forgetting that?
Brown-Thuney-Andrews-Mason-Cannon were fantastic in the playoffs. How much did Michel create on his own is debateable but he was running behind an elite OL.
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
16,839
Uh....he was fantastic in the playoffs. Why are people forgetting that?
Even if he was... which I don't really agree with, he was running behind a dominant OL/TEs, the point was that the team didn't win a SB because of him, and using that to compare him to similar players who happened to play with less talent doesn't make sense. If anything.... the fact that he has put up such mediocre numbers while playing with the benefit of so much talent around him (OL, QB, etc.) is probably a case AGAINST him when comparing him to players who had to run behind bad lines and/or had no QB talent.

Even in those 3 games, in the AFC Championship and SuperBowl a moderately washed Rex Burkhead was similarly productive on his carries.

3 games on a stacked offense on a great team doesn't make any impact to me on a player's career. This isn't the NBA where a team has basically 8 guys. I don't think there is any real reason to think if we had been playing Burkhead, or Cordarelle Patterson, or Jeremy Hill or any of the other RBs that played that year that the outcomes would be much different.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
It is definitely a below-average career for a first-round RB. It is basically as bad as it gets for a guy who gets actual playing time.
Ok, so I just spent time looking up every RB drafted in the first round from 2001-2019. Here's the deal....

42 total players
- 19 drafted in the first half of the first round
- 23 drafted in the second half of the first round

All first round RBs since 2001 (their average numbers):
- 6.8 years in the NFL
- 4,882 yards rushing
- 4.2 yards per carry
- 36.4 touchdowns
- Avg season: 722 yds rushing, 4.2 ypc, 5.4 td
- MICHEL'S AVG SEASON: 922 yds rushing, 4.0 ypc, 6.5 td

Of these 42 total players, only 5 have won SB titles (Reggie Bush, Joseph Addai, Marshawn Lynch, Rashard Mendenhall, Sony Michel). Of those five, here were their playoff numbers in the year they won the SB:

Bush (2009 NO): 17 att, 117 yds, 6.9 ypc, 1 td, 10 rec, 95 yds, 1 td, (212 total yds, 2 td)
Addai (2006 Ind): 76 att, 294 yds, 3.9 ypc, 2 td, 22 rec, 118 yds (412 total yds, 2 td)
Lynch (2013 Sea): 65 att, 288 yds, 4.4 ypc, 4 td, 1 rec, 3 yds (291 total yds, 4 td)
Mendenhall (2008 Pit): Did not play in the playoffs
Michel (2018 NE): 71 att, 336 yds, 4.7 ypc, 6 td, 1 rec, 9 yds (345 total yds, 6 td)

It can be argued that Michel's production during his SB-winning playoff run was superior to any of the other guys in theirs. And his overall average season so far is better than the average season of the 41 other first-round RBs since 2001.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
Maroney went 22-122 and 25-122 with a TD in each game leading up to the Scottish Game, then also scored in that game. Had the Tyree catch never happened he’d have been a hero too.
Woulda coulda shoulda. I'm quite sure people would have thought differently about Maroney's career had his nice playoff run led to a SB title. Part of the reason they lost that game is because he ran 14 times for just 36 yards. He could have taken a lot of pressure off Brady had he been effective in that game.

Alas....
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
And by the way everyone: I'm not arguing that Michel is a pro bowl player or a star or anything like that. I'm simply responding to the "he's a bust" idea. His career so far has been better than the average RB drafted in the first round since 2001. That's a fact.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
24,273
Hingham, MA
Woulda coulda shoulda. I'm quite sure people would have thought differently about Maroney's career had his nice playoff run led to a SB title. Part of the reason they lost that game is because he ran 14 times for just 36 yards. He could have taken a lot of pressure off Brady had he been effective in that game.

Alas....
I’d have to watch again (yeah effing right) but would be curious to see how much of the performance was the line vs dancin’ Maroney
 

Shelterdog

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Feb 19, 2002
11,781
New York City
The is he a bust answer is pretty easy. If he has a couple more seasons like his rookie season no; if he plays like he did last year then yes. One average or above average year is just not enough production for a first round running back.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
I’d have to watch again (yeah effing right) but would be curious to see how much of the performance was the line vs dancin’ Maroney
I don't feel like rewatching it either, but remember that Mankins was playing on a torn ACL that game and the Giants' D-line was ferocious. But still....Maroney was not good that game and it really hurt that they couldn't run the ball.
 

Shelterdog

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Feb 19, 2002
11,781
New York City
I don't feel like rewatching it either, but remember that Mankins was playing on a torn ACL that game and the Giants' D-line was ferocious. But still....Maroney was not good that game and it really hurt that they couldn't run the ball.
Neal also got hurt and missed two and a half quarters.
 

Super Nomario

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 5, 2000
12,757
Mansfield MA
Ok, so I just spent time looking up every RB drafted in the first round from 2001-2019. Here's the deal....

42 total players
- 19 drafted in the first half of the first round
- 23 drafted in the second half of the first round

All first round RBs since 2001 (their average numbers):
- 6.8 years in the NFL
- 4,882 yards rushing
- 4.2 yards per carry
- 36.4 touchdowns
- Avg season: 722 yds rushing, 4.2 ypc, 5.4 td
- MICHEL'S AVG SEASON: 922 yds rushing, 4.0 ypc, 6.5 td
OK, but you're moving the goalposts here. You were positing "let's say Sony has a 500 yard, 5 TD season and then is out of football for good." That's would make his career about half the length of average for this group (maybe worse? Not sure what you're doing with still-active guys), with about the same seasonal yardage average and slightly less YPC average. If can keep being available and OKish through the end of his rookie contract, that's a different scenario and less busty. More like a Malcom Brown kinda "not worth a first round pick but not awful."

Two other things: 1) your analysis suggests that Michel (4.0 YPC) is not actually an above-average runner; he's just getting more volume than the other firsts (4.2 YPC). There's value in that, certainly, assuming he can keep it up. 2) You're only looking at rushing stats. Michel is a far below average receiver. Eyeballing it, he's 41st out of those 42 players in total receiving yards and something like 39th or 40th in receiving yards per season. Given that passing is much more efficient than running, this is a pretty big blow to his value.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
OK, but you're moving the goalposts here. You were positing "let's say Sony has a 500 yard, 5 TD season and then is out of football for good." That's would make his career about half the length of average for this group (maybe worse? Not sure what you're doing with still-active guys), with about the same seasonal yardage average and slightly less YPC average. If can keep being available and OKish through the end of his rookie contract, that's a different scenario and less busty. More like a Malcom Brown kinda "not worth a first round pick but not awful."

Two other things: 1) your analysis suggests that Michel (4.0 YPC) is not actually an above-average runner; he's just getting more volume than the other firsts (4.2 YPC). There's value in that, certainly, assuming he can keep it up. 2) You're only looking at rushing stats. Michel is a far below average receiver. Eyeballing it, he's 41st out of those 42 players in total receiving yards and something like 39th or 40th in receiving yards per season. Given that passing is much more efficient than running, this is a pretty big blow to his value.
Yeah true on both counts. I originally said that if he had that mediocre season and then retired would he be a bust? But I will say that the prevailing view here seems to be that he’s ALREADY a bust, which is ludicrous.

He’s not even been below average for a first round pick at the position in the last 19 years’ worth of drafts, never mind a “bust”.

And again.... the dude was absolutely fantastic in the 2018 championship run. That cannot simply be handwaved away. Could someone else have done that? Maybe. But Michel actually DID it.
 

SMU_Sox

loves his fluffykins
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2009
6,554
Dallas
So to me the Patriots were set up in 2018 as a good running team but also a volume running team. BB demands good pass protection in his RBs so when I say one dimensional I really mean good at either receiving or running but also a good pass protector. BB is fine with one-dimensional backs. I don't think he drafted Sony at 31 to be a one-dimensional back though. BB's not an idiot, if a guy is not an elite runner, and Sony is not and didn't project to be, he isn't worth it at 31 unless he looks like he could develop into a well rounded back. Lombardi might have been wrong with his draft predictions but let's not throw out everything he says. If he says that Sony needs to step it up as a receiver and common sense tells us that seems right let's just go with it.

My own notes are pretty consistent with Sony: gets yards the OL gives him and not much more. Just for fun I looked at Football Outsiders 2nd level yards and open field yards rank for 2018 and 2019 which is of all Pats backs. In 2018 they were ranked #1 against being stuffed, but only 21st for second level yards and 25th for open field yards. Sony didn't break off many long runs. In 2019 it was 24th for stuffed ranking, 16th for 2nd level yards, and 28th for open field yards. My eyes are telling me what FO's metrics are telling me. That's two years in a row though where I am having trouble seeing where he isn't anything but a C- runner who gets a ton of volume. He has some flashes where he looks goodish but few and far between. He got more snaps because Burkhead has durability issues, White is not a guy you want running against a stacked box and also has some durability concerns (he's not a pound it kind of build either) so almost by default the carries fell to Sony. Harris was a rookie and rookies in general do not get much playing time. Plus maybe Harris was behind Sony in pass pro. Who knows. Again it points to me that Sony was just a default carrier of the load. Good backs break off way more 10+ yard runs, 20+ yard runs than he does.

Also, I am not sure I would use an average to determine success.

TL;DR: Sony had good durability and had decent volume stats but all of his other stats and the eye test indicate that he is a below average running back right now as a pure runner and woefully deficient as a pass-catcher which makes him far below average value for what you want at 31.

Quick edit: @BaseballJones I don't care that he was on a SB winning team. I mean I do, as I am a Patriots fan and I want them to win the SB every fucking year, but I try to strip away the team from the player. And when I do he comes up short. Sucks. I really liked him coming out.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
So to me the Patriots were set up in 2018 as a good running team but also a volume running team. BB demands good pass protection in his RBs so when I say one dimensional I really mean good at either receiving or running but also a good pass protector. BB is fine with one-dimensional backs. I don't think he drafted Sony at 31 to be a one-dimensional back though. BB's not an idiot, if a guy is not an elite runner, and Sony is not and didn't project to be, he isn't worth it at 31 unless he looks like he could develop into a well rounded back. Lombardi might have been wrong with his draft predictions but let's not throw out everything he says. If he says that Sony needs to step it up as a receiver and common sense tells us that seems right let's just go with it.

My own notes are pretty consistent with Sony: gets yards the OL gives him and not much more. Just for fun I looked at Football Outsiders 2nd level yards and open field yards rank for 2018 and 2019 which is of all Pats backs. In 2018 they were ranked #1 against being stuffed, but only 21st for second level yards and 25th for open field yards. Sony didn't break off many long runs. In 2019 it was 24th for stuffed ranking, 16th for 2nd level yards, and 28th for open field yards. My eyes are telling me what FO's metrics are telling me. That's two years in a row though where I am having trouble seeing where he isn't anything but a C- runner who gets a ton of volume. He has some flashes where he looks goodish but few and far between. He got more snaps because Burkhead has durability issues, White is not a guy you want running against a stacked box and also has some durability concerns (he's not a pound it kind of build either) so almost by default the carries fell to Sony. Harris was a rookie and rookies in general do not get much playing time. Plus maybe Harris was behind Sony in pass pro. Who knows. Again it points to me that Sony was just a default carrier of the load. Good backs break off way more 10+ yard runs, 20+ yard runs than he does.

Also, I am not sure I would use an average to determine success.

TL;DR: Sony had good durability and had decent volume stats but all of his other stats and the eye test indicate that he is a below average running back right now as a pure runner and woefully deficient as a pass-catcher which makes him far below average value for what you want at 31.

Quick edit: @BaseballJones I don't care that he was on a SB winning team. I mean I do, as I am a Patriots fan and I want them to win the SB every fucking year, but I try to strip away the team from the player. And when I do he comes up short. Sucks. I really liked him coming out.
Good stuff.

I am not going to do any sort of breakdown for all 40+ first-round drafted runners since 2001. Clearly there are a bunch of guys there who are WAY better than Sony. And also clearly there are a bunch of guys there who are way WORSE. Statistically, he's above average for first-round drafted RBs.

Now maybe that speaks more to the issue of whether RBs should be drafted in the first round - personally I think you need to be *exceptional* to deserve a first-round pick as a RB. And Sony clearly is not that. So from a value standpoint, I think it was a mistake to draft him there. You could have gotten similar production way further down in the draft.

But...compared to other first round drafted RBs, Sony is actually....perfectly fine. And for me, his playoff production definitely matters. As Pats' fans, we are gunning for the Super Bowl, and in that three-game playoff run, he was absolutely fantastic. There's just no way around it, he was terrific. We can try to explain it a million different ways but the fact of the matter is, he ran hard, he ran well, he scored six touchdowns in three games, and he was really really good. And his contribution was absolutely key to them winning the Super Bowl.

Could another RB have done that? Yeah probably many could have. But Sony *DID*. As in, he actually did it. And for me, that stuff matters.
 

ShaneTrot

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nov 17, 2002
5,242
Overland Park, KS
Good stuff.

I am not going to do any sort of breakdown for all 40+ first-round drafted runners since 2001. Clearly there are a bunch of guys there who are WAY better than Sony. And also clearly there are a bunch of guys there who are way WORSE. Statistically, he's above average for first-round drafted RBs.

Now maybe that speaks more to the issue of whether RBs should be drafted in the first round - personally I think you need to be *exceptional* to deserve a first-round pick as a RB. And Sony clearly is not that. So from a value standpoint, I think it was a mistake to draft him there. You could have gotten similar production way further down in the draft.

But...compared to other first round drafted RBs, Sony is actually....perfectly fine. And for me, his playoff production definitely matters. As Pats' fans, we are gunning for the Super Bowl, and in that three-game playoff run, he was absolutely fantastic. There's just no way around it, he was terrific. We can try to explain it a million different ways but the fact of the matter is, he ran hard, he ran well, he scored six touchdowns in three games, and he was really really good. And his contribution was absolutely key to them winning the Super Bowl.

Could another RB have done that? Yeah probably many could have. But Sony *DID*. As in, he actually did it. And for me, that stuff matters.
I think he was great in that playoff run but he had a healthy Develin, a healthy offensive line, and Gronk and Dwayne Allen blocked their asses off. He had none of those ingredients last year. It is painful that he isn't a star, especially seeing Nick Chubb is a much more dynamic player and was selected 4 picks later.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
I think he was great in that playoff run but he had a healthy Develin, a healthy offensive line, and Gronk and Dwayne Allen blocked their asses off. He had none of those ingredients last year. It is painful that he isn't a star, especially seeing Nick Chubb is a much more dynamic player and was selected 4 picks later.
For sure. I'd rather have Chubb (and a lot of other guys). And again, I'm not arguing that Sony is a star or anything remotely like that. Just that he's not a "bust". He's not even below average for first round drafted RBs over the last 19 years.

Personally, I hope Harris surpasses him this year and represents a significant upgrade at the position.
 

Super Nomario

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 5, 2000
12,757
Mansfield MA
I am not going to do any sort of breakdown for all 40+ first-round drafted runners since 2001. Clearly there are a bunch of guys there who are WAY better than Sony. And also clearly there are a bunch of guys there who are way WORSE. Statistically, he's above average for first-round drafted RBs.

But...compared to other first round drafted RBs, Sony is actually....perfectly fine.
... in the handful of metrics you looked at, mostly volume-related, he was "above average" or "perfectly fine." As a matter of per-carry efficiency or if you incorporate contributions in the passing game (where he is a zero), he is not.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,818
... in the handful of metrics you looked at, mostly volume-related, he was "above average" or "perfectly fine." As a matter of per-carry efficiency or if you incorporate contributions in the passing game (where he is a zero), he is not.
Would you label him a bust?
 

Average Game James

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Apr 28, 2016
1,685
Have you seen anyone look back at this kind of data ie was there a correlation to win/lose record in previous years? You would assume continuity is related to winning but is that true for bad teams too?
Historical correlation or not, continuity is presumably more valuable this year, as in the event we have a season it will likely follow a reduced training camp, no OTAs, etc.
 

moondog80

heart is two sizes two small
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
5,429