Patriots football is fun again! Although we’re only in week three, this season feels so much better than last year. There could be any number of factors that caused Patriots fans more stress than usual. The rumors of a rift between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The debate over whether Brady should stay in New England, retire, or go to another team. All the doubt, uncertainty, and fear that a football fan could feel. But that’s all over now. The Patriots and their fans have finally found stability.
Behind ‘SuperCam’ Cam Newton, a healthy offensive line, and a revamped receivers corp, the Patriots are still dominant. But the week three Game Ball goes to the multi-headed monster that makes up the Patriots rushing attack. After an incredible game by Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, J.J. Taylor, and Jakob Johnson, it was impossible to give the Game Ball to just one player.
Let’s start with the most obvious choice. Rex Burkhead scored three times, but these weren’t your typical one-yard power runs from the one yard-line. On his first touchdown, an 11-yard catch and run, Burkhead sailed over the goal line on the shoulders of Raider. His second score required him to break the laws of physics as he twisted his body to avoid a tackle and hover a foot off the ground into the endzone. To cap off the hat trick, he shot out of a cannon, reversed direction, and powered through a defender’s knees. Even though he’s a running back, he caught more passes than rushing attempts (seven to 6) for a total of 98 yards.
The biggest surprise of this season has been Sony Michel. After two seasons of lackluster running, he’s beginning to find his groove. There’s more intensity to his game than there has ever been. He’s hitting the hole hard and not dancing around in the backfield like a boy band. He has even started running through contact instead of going down as soon as a defender looked at him. He even threw a massive block on a blitzing defensive back to give Cam Newton time and room to throw. This version of Sony Michel is why Belichick took him as a first-round draft pick.
Rookie J.J. Taylor certainly made his presence felt by the Raiders as well. Standing at just five feet five inches, he blasted through defenders like a wrecking ball. Although he only gained 43 yards on 11 touches, he provided a burst of energy that carried over to the rest of the team.
Jakob Johnson from Germany showed why the fullback position is not dead. Johnson did everything you could ask of a fullback. His blocking is key to the success of the other running backs. His ability to seal the edge or move a linebacker off their spot sprung several big gains for Burkhead and Michel. He added a reception for six yards and is proving that a versatile fullback is a weapon.
On a team as talented as the Patriots, the rushing game is not limited to the running backs. Undrafted free agent Isaiah Zuber had a great run on a receiver sweep. Cam Newton scrambled for a first down, something Patriots fans are enjoying every week. Newton got up smiling and celebrating the first down run. This is a fun team to watch. The players, coaches, and fans are having fun. Luckily for all of us, the season is just beginning.
–Travis Baltes is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @TravisBaltes