James White Deserves More Touches

James White

The New England Patriots are struggling for an answer on offense. The unit hasn’t played up to their usual standards, and time is running out before the postseason begins. With an underwhelming wide receiver core and a subpar offensive line, the Patriots need to find a new way to generate offense. James White has been one of the few bright spots in the offense, and he deserves to eat into some of Sony Michel’s snaps and receive a larger share of the work.

James White Needs A Larger Role in New England Patriots Offense

Sony Michel is in the midst of a terrible season, but it’s not all his fault. Last year, Michel had the benefit of running behind a top-three offensive line with Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, and James Develin there to provide additional blocking support. Michel isn’t particularly explosive and doesn’t break many tackles, but he’s good at following his blocks and getting every yard his blocking provides. Last year, that running style allowed him to accumulate a combined 1,267 yards and 12 touchdowns throughout the regular season and postseason.

However, that running style simply isn’t getting the job done in 2019. The Patriots lost David Andrews, Develin, Gronkowski, and Allen and never found true replacements. Because of this, Michel simply isn’t doing anything between the tackles and currently has a 46.2% success rate while averaging 3.5 yards-per-carry. The second-year runner ranks ahead of only Adrian Peterson and Jordan Howard in broken tackles per attempt and doesn’t possess much burst or explosion in the open field.

No matter how much the Patriots try, they’re not going to be able to replicate the Power-I success which helped lead them to a Super Bowl one year ago. Quite simply, they don’t have the personnel to run that type of offense. If they want to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they’ll need to think of something else, and they owe it to themselves to see if James White can handle a larger role in the offense.

James White As a Runner

Everyone knows that James White is the best pass-catching back on the roster, so we won’t spend too much time on that aspect of his game. New England’s passing game is out of sync, and Tom Brady only fully trusts Julian Edelman and James White. Using running backs in the passing game generally isn’t an effective strategy, but White is a better pass-catcher than the average running back. At the very least, putting White on the field could lead to fewer early-down runs, which will ultimately improve the offense.

The biggest question is whether or not White can handle a full slate of rushing duties. While nobody will confuse him with Barry Sanders, White has improved dramatically as a rusher over the years. Through the first 14 games of the season, White currently averages 4.1 yards-per-carry and has a 46.2% success rate. Granted, these numbers would probably decrease if White started seeing more early-down work, as teams generally spend more time in their base defense on early downs. However, watching the film shows that White is good enough to handle more volume in the running game.

White isn’t quite as good at reading rushing lanes as Michel, but he can still do it at an NFL level. However, what he lacks in vision he more than makes up for in explosiveness and strength. White is no Marshawn Lynch but he can fight off tacklers better than Michel and is far more dangerous in the open field.

Will This Fix the Offense?

Giving James White a higher snap count is going to help, but it won’t fix the offense all on its own. New England’s passing offense still needs work, and adding James White to the mix won’t be enough to fix the whole thing. In today’s pass-happy NFL, it’s next to impossible to win anything without a strong aerial attack.

However, this move is one that will give the offense some extra juice. White is one of New England’s most dangerous players in the open field and has the ability to be a fine runner. Getting the ball into his hands can only make the offense better, even if it won’t singlehandedly fix all of New England’s issues.

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