He's extremely talented. He runs so hard, hits the hole with more decisiveness than any of our backs, and can make people miss or can run right through them. He's a tough runner who can make something out of nothing, but also makes 3 yard gains into 30 yarders. The key is to stay healthy, but I think we've found our bellcow. Sony can still have a role, but he's not the featured back anymore. That 5th year option is looking less likely to be picked up every day.Harris has been an absolute beast. I think he's the best back we've had since Corey Dillon, maybe even Curtis Martin.
What do we have here? Will Sony Michel see the field again?
I would agree with this, to a point. The complete lack of functional TEs killed us last year, and is making the team very one-dimensional this year. This is on BB. Obviously, BB couldn't have believed both of his drafted TEs would get hurt, but he had no backup plan, and it's caused losses when the run game gets stymied.I like the idea of Sony taking some heat off of Harris at least until he’s shown he can stay healthy. But this is an exciting sploogefest and Harris seems like a good kid to boot.
Perhaps it’s just a factor of poor drafts, but it’s also interesting to contemplate how Bill may have been ahead of the curve seeing that the running game was ascendant in the NFL, or at least an inefficiency, starting in 2018 with the draft of Michel and extension of Burkhead.
This is a great point. Midway through the third, Baltimore started stacking the box to take away the run and his YPC started to plummet. Even with excellent (dominant) offensive line play, his effectiveness will certainly be limited without much threat throwing the ball.All due respect to Jakobi and Cam, who are playing better these last couple weeks, but I would love to see what this guy can do with a competent passing attack. The most exciting thing about this mini breakout is that he's doing it without really being a threat to catch the ball on an offense that's barely a threat to throw the ball at all while he's in. Correcting either of those things this season may be a tall order, but I think the ceiling here is a fair bit higher than we've seen so far.
To this point, here's a list of Harris' rushes yesterday:This is a great point. Midway through the third, Baltimore started stacking the box to take away the run and his YPC started to plummet. Even with excellent (dominant) offensive line play, his effectiveness will certainly be limited without much threat throwing the ball.
It was the Vegas game. Michel had 117 yards on only 9 carries. That was also the last game Michel has played this year.I'll add that Michel seemed to be plodding along as usual then someone lit a fire under him (and Burkhead) and both came out of the half on fire (I forget which game - Seattle?). Really aggressive and taking it to the defenders when Michel seemed to previously get knocked back consistently when tackled. Of course he got hurt pretty quick and that's been that. Burkhead's maintained the aggressiveness and he seems a different back, breaking a tackle more than he had. Harris seems to have that aggressive gene built in.
I don’t pay tons of attention to college football/predraft stuff. What’s the reason he wasn’t taken till the third? Injuries?I don't find Harris's production the least bit surprising. I mentioned it in one of the offseason threads, but his pedigree is just insane. Coming out of high school, he was the #1 rated RB (and a top 10 rated recruit) in his class. He then absolutely dominated at Alabama, leaving that program as their all-time leader in YPC (6.4). He AVERAGED over 7 YPC as a sophomore and junior, getting 1,000+ yards both years against an elite college schedule, while being in a platoon. He's an absolute franchise back and should have been playing over Sony last year. Alas. This isn't in any way a mirage, he's this good.
He was predicted to go where he went. The knock on him was his athletic ceiling is somewhat low due to lack of elusive creativity. He's great at hitting the hole and running with power but he's not shifty and not really a complete pass catcher: https://thedraftnetwork.com/player/damien-harrisI don’t pay tons of attention to college football/predraft stuff. What’s the reason he wasn’t taken till the third? Injuries?
Like @EL Jeffe I also predicted good things for Harris this year. He went in the third because Najee Harris took snaps from him. He didn't have outstanding physical traits, and he doesn't have home-run long-speed. NFL teams can be very stupid with RBs. Traditional physical traits and testing scores don't matter to the position minus weight and height (things like pad level, vision, manipulating second level defenders, knowing when to hit a bend, bang, or bounce these things can't really be measured by testing).
I loved this section. So true based on what we've seen.He was predicted to go where he went. The knock on him was his athletic ceiling is somewhat low due to lack of elusive creativity. He's great at hitting the hole and running with power but he's not shifty and not really a complete pass catcher: https://thedraftnetwork.com/player/damien-harris
For sure. He's not Tractorcito level but you have to be fully committed to bring him down one on one.I loved this section. So true based on what we've seen.
"Cannot, and will not, be taken down by half-hearted tackle attempts. Is rocked up throughout and can absorb glancing blows even when he doesn't see them coming. Arm tackles from first-level defenders do nothing to slow him down. Regularly requires rally tackles when in the second level. Quick footwork lends itself to bracing for contact immediately."
Harris wasn't hurt last year. He was a healthy scratch 13 times. He just wasn't displacing Sony as a rookie when Sony was coming off a good rookie season.Liked him from the first time I saw him but he has already exceeded my expectations. What does his injury mean to the team last year? One win or maybe more?
Clearly he's not keeping Tom here but maybe we would have felt a little better about the overall state of the offense.
He’s also a perfect example of why we need to keep hammering offensive skill positions in the draft, such as WR. You draft Sony, watch him have a very good rookie campaign, but still go after depth when the value is there.Harris wasn't hurt last year. He was a healthy scratch 13 times. He just wasn't displacing Sony as a rookie when Sony was coming off a good rookie season.
A lot of his production was on two long runs (86 yards total), both of which featured Raiders safety Johnathan Abram and his creative approach to open-field tackling.Thanks for this. I didn't remember that his day was THAT good. It was literally like a switch had been flipped.
Couldn't agree more. Pittsburgh keeps investing in WRs even when they have 2-3 good ones already. And now they have a ridiculous WR room. Meanwhile Harry is the one WR BB has drafted with a top 100 pick in 7 years. Yeesh.He’s also a perfect example of why we need to keep hammering offensive skill positions in the draft, such as WR. You draft Sony, watch him have a very good rookie campaign, but still go after depth when the value is there.
Hahahahahahahaha. Well played.A lot of his production was on two long runs (86 yards total), both of which featured Raiders safety Johnathan Abram and his creative approach to open-field tackling.
That's fine, and the system has worked to the tune of 6 Lombardis. Yes, Brady, obviously. But every pick spent on a WR is a pick not spent somewhere else. So it's not simply "they've gotta pick more WRs". It's "what positions do you wish they'd pick less of in order to pick more WRs"? I know you're a really knowledgable football guy. What would be your answer to that question?Couldn't agree more. Pittsburgh keeps investing in WRs even when they have 2-3 good ones already. And now they have a ridiculous WR room. Meanwhile Harry is the one WR BB has drafted with a top 100 pick in 7 years. Yeesh.
I don't want to speak for @SMU_Sox , but I've said similar, and my perspective is that Belichick's approach to receiver (not just WR but also TE and to a lesser extent, receiving back) has been very effective for most of the past 20 years and he was right in his approach for the most part. But the market has shifted. It didn't matter that they were investing the least WR draft capital of any team because they were investing a lot in TE and were able to find inexpensive options at positions like slot WR and TE that are traditionally undervalued. Who needs to keep dumping firsts into WRs when you can snag Welker and Moss for peanuts? Who needs an elite X receiver when you have Gronk?That's fine, and the system has worked to the tune of 6 Lombardis. Yes, Brady, obviously. But every pick spent on a WR is a pick not spent somewhere else. So it's not simply "they've gotta pick more WRs". It's "what positions do you wish they'd pick less of in order to pick more WRs"? I know you're a really knowledgable football guy. What would be your answer to that question?
Good question. I think DT has become something teams can address inexpensively in FA, but the Pats (despite historically drafting a lot of DT high) have not actually drafted a DT since Vincent Valentine in 2016. DB is the obvious answer since a) they've spent so much capital there, b) so many of their early-round DB picks have failed and c) they've done a great job getting DBs as UDFAs. But probably it's not as obvious as that and more about subtle redistribution of resources. And arguably we did see something of this approach in the past draft with taking two TEs in the third.Good post, @Super Nomario. But...it doesn't answer my question. You put more draft capital into WR and presumably even TE. Well and good. But which positions do you want them to invest *less* draft capital in? One obvious answer is: kicker and punter. The kicker pick this year seems utterly worthless, given that they likely could have had any number of good kickers as an UDFA, and went with Folk anyway. And as good as Bailey has been, there are other guys who could adequately do the job. But that's only two picks out of dozens and dozens and dozens. What positions should they draft less of, as they draft more WRs and TEs?
I mostly agree with this, although it's worth noting that they've gotten very little out of the actual DB draft picks. Other than DMac, who was drafted a decade back, the DB drafted by the Pats who has played the most defensive snaps is Dugger, at about 1/3 of the snaps. Gilmore was a big-ticket FA, Jackson and Jones were UDFAs, JMac, Phillips, and Brooks were low-cost FAs. So they could keep investing sizably in DBs but maybe invest less in the spots where they're not getting much return.Great post SMU. I think the drafting game is so so hard. For example, we KNOW that quality secondary play is absolutely crucial to success in today's NFL, especially when you're chasing teams like Kansas City. So BB does with DBs the very thing that we want him to do with WRs - he just keeps on drafting them, year after year after year. And he adds to that group some veterans as well (Phillips, JMac, etc.). And the result is an absolutely elite secondary. And the biggest reason why the Pats' defense has been so good is because of their elite secondary. Well they only get there because he invests so much capital in DBs.
I don't think if you went through all 32 teams that you'd find that the Patriots stand out for spending a lot at OL. They've got two guards on big contracts, but none of the Ts nor Andrews are particularly pricey. Wynn was a first, but that's standard for a LT, and none of the other OL were drafted particularly high - Thuney in the 3rd is closest. They have a great OL because they continually throw modest resources at it, and because they've been willing to retain guys, but it's not like DAL where they had three first-rounders or anything.He's also valued offensive linemen a ton, which shows its value in a year like this, when the OL really had been the #1 key to their offense.
This is all the more reason to take more shots at WR. They're not all going to hit, but they're not all going to miss either. Second and third round picks miss at every position; the misses haven't dissuaded them at DB and they shouldn't dissuade them at WR.I think it's just super easy to be critical and say he should have taken this guy or someone at that position, but keep in mind, he hasn't exactly been Nostradamus at picking WRs. So who's to say that if he had turned a couple of these other picks into WRs that he would have nailed any of them. It's easy to say he shouldn't have picked Duke Dawson and taken a good receiver instead. But let's say that he had taken a crappy receiver (which some critics think is all BB drafts for WRs) instead of, say, Dugger, or instead of Wynn. The team would be worse off for it.
I agree he gets it right far more than he gets it wrong. That's one reason I find it surprising that he's been so unusually slow to adjust to the changing WR / TE market. There's still no one I'd rather have calling the shots; that doesn't mean he's perfect.Long story much much shorter: it's really easy to be critical of BB and it's fine, I'm happy for people to be critical. It's way way way harder to do his job, and literally nobody in the history of the league has done it as well as he has on the whole. Of COURSE he's going to make mistakes - and lots of them. But he gets it right far more than he gets it wrong.
This, sans the self harm.The last several posts are why SOSH is the best board around. Thanks to all of you for the tremendous insight and effort. Now I’m going off to kill myself right after I scrawl the words Godwin and/or Cupp on the wall with my blood.
His vision and cuts in that game were very good. Still looks less explosive than he was at UGA but if you can combine this version of Michel with Harris while mixing in Burkhead/White, then you’ve got a nice rotation there and can keep everyone fresh.
The Pats have a nice stable of B- to B+ RBs, and combined with a strong O-line and Cam Newton, it's got all the makings of a truly dominant rushing attack. Too bad the passing game is so bad, nothing to keep good defenses honest.