Patriots/Chargers: Who are the 3 key players for each team?
For the first nine weeks of the season, James White was arguably the most important piece in the Patriots’ offense not sporting the name “Brady” on the back of his jersey. Then the team got crushed in Tennessee, and for whatever reason, his role hasn’t been quite as featured or instrumental since.
It’s a puzzling development, since White himself didn’t do anything wrong in the loss to the Titans. He hasn’t made many mistakes all season (if any at all), and as far as we know he’s fully healthy. Some of his reduced usage can perhaps be chalked up to Sony Michel’s emergence as a true workhorse back. More likely, it’s also a reflection of the Patriots’ depth and talent at the running back position: White, Michel, and Rex Burkhead are all legitimate RB1 options for New England at any given time.
But when the calendar flips to the postseason, it’s White’s time to shine. Most observers of Super Bowl LI came away thinking White was the true deserver of that game’s MVP award – even the actual recipient, Brady, suggested as much when he gave White the truck he won alongside the trophy. White was also a beast in last season’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, finishing the game as New England’s leading rusher with a 6.4 yards per attempt average and a touchdown.
The Patriots will win on Sunday if they can break the Chargers’ will by running the ball down their throat, so it falls to Michel, Burkhead, and playoff legend James White to do just that.