Most of the discussion surrounding the game was about the solid quarterback play from both Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones. However, the Patriots’ running game was just as good or even better on Thursday night. New England rushed for an incredible 207 rushing yards and four touchdowns between four running backs.
Out of the four running backs who saw snaps, it was second-year running back J.J. Taylor and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson that had outstanding performances.
Former University of Arizona running back J.J. Taylor had a game-high 93 rushing yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Stevenson continued to build off of his 127 rushing yard outing from last week, with 66 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Veteran Sony Michel had 34 rushing on 7 carries, along with 4 receptions for 37 yards. Lastly, Damien Harris added 14 rushing yards on 6 carries and a score inside the redzone.
Sony Michel will likely be New England’s starting running back this season. The former Georgia running back had a down 2020 season only playing in nine games due to injury. Michel produced 449 rushing yards on 79 carries and a touchdown. When healthy, we’ve seen the 26-year-old running back come close to 1,000 rushing yards.
After Michel, the Patriots’ running back room gets crowded, which does not bode well for fantasy football. Harris, who showed he could be a RB2 last season, could find himself in a similar role this season. Meanwhile, James White, Stevenson, and Taylor (if he makes the 53-man roster) could be all viable FLEX options over the course of the season. White and Taylor have the same skill sets as receiving backs, but Stevenson could fill that LeGarrette Blount role inside the redzone.