Patriots can’t let Sony Michel activation change their game plan

Patriots RB Sony Michel (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Patriots RB Sony Michel (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /

The Patriots activated RB Sony Michel off injured reserve, and that shouldn’t change anything as far as their game plan is concerned.

Fans in New England have grown increasingly worried thinking about what the Patriots’ backfield rotation would look like once longtime starter Sony Michel returned from injury.

After all, second-year pro Damien Harris has been nothing short of a revelation in Michel’s absence, ranking third in the NFL with three 100-yard games and averaging a stellar 5.5 yards per attempt, and deserves to continue receiving the bulk of the carries.

Well, we’re about to find out the situation, because the Patriots announced a little more than 24 hours before Sunday’s scheduled kickoff against Houston that they’ve activated Michel off injured reserve, indicating that he will be available for the game.

We mean no disrespect to Michel, but his return shouldn’t change anything as far as the Patriots’ game plan is concerned.

The offense, specifically the rushing attack, has found a nice groove over the last three weeks — averaging 24.6 points per game over that span — and there’s simply no reason to tinker with that momentum.

While the Patriots should be able to dispose of Houston no matter who’s manning the backfield, forcing Michel back into an early down role, where he’s never really enjoyed much success across his career to begin with, would be a potential disaster in the making.

Not only has Harris been sensational this season, but he’s also entering Sunday’s matchup on the heels of the best game of his young career, when he took 22 carries for 121 yards (5.5 YPC) against a stingy Ravens defense.

The Patriots have deployed an RB committee seemingly all season long with the hope that one member of the group would eventually establish himself as the alpha. Having averaged a crisp 98.0 yards per game over the last three weeks, Harris is clearly at the top of the pecking order.

You know how the old saying goes, folks: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and Michel’s return should merely provide rotational depth when Harris needs to be spelled for a few plays. If the Patriots want to utilize him as a goal line specialist, that’s fine, but the 2019 third-round pick deserves all of the early down work.

Rex Burkhead and James White also deserve to be prioritized. This isn’t that hard.