Most expected the New England Patriots to start the season well, but how they’ve done so is raising eyebrows.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell on Monday named Sony Michel’s lack of production and the outstanding performances of the Patriots’ defense as the most surprising aspects of the team’s 2019 campaign to date. Michel has rushed for just 108 yards on 45 carries with two touchdowns, with his numbers far short of those who believed he might enjoy a breakout season and lead the NFL in rushing yards, touchdowns or both.
“… The Patriots have been down as many as three of their five starting offensive linemen for parts of this season and will be without center David Andrews for the year and left tackle Isaiah Wynn until midseason, but Michel has been a mess,” Barnwell writes.
“I was expecting more big plays from Michel given his explosiveness at Georgia, but he has shown virtually no burst or any propensity to get more than what’s blocked during the first three weeks of the season.
“… It’s way too early to give up on the Georgia product, and I suspect he’ll play a big role for the Pats at some point during the season. That time just might not be this Sunday in Buffalo.”
Although Michel has been curiously disappointing, the Patriots defense has been better than advertised, performing at one of the most impressive clips in NFL history.
“Through three weeks, the Patriots are allowing 0.27 points per possession,” Barnwell writes. “That is no typo. Factoring in the Super Bowl win over the Rams, the Pats’ defense has now gone four games without allowing a passing or rushing touchdown by the opposing offense.
“That has happened just eight times since the AFL-NFL merger, and in these score-happy times, we haven’t seen a team piece together a four-game scoreless streak since the Steelers pulled it off over a five-game run during the 2000 campaign.
“… I’m never shocked when a (Bill) Belichick defense plays well, but to put together the best four-game stretch in nearly two decades?
Barnwell suggests the Patriots’ defense is so good, the team might enjoy another undefeated regular season.
“… Brady and the best defense he has had in 15 years against the league’s easiest schedule? I wouldn’t quite rule out the 16-0 dream just yet.”
While one of Barnewell’s surprises is more positive than the other, no one will be too down if Michel continues to struggle, the defense continues to dominate and New England goes unbeaten.
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