One of the bright spots of the 2020 season for the New England Patriots has been the play of second-year running back Damien Harris. He has been great as the starting running back since Sony Michel landed on injured reserve. He might have even done well enough to earn the starting job permanently.
Harris had the best game of his career in Week 10. He ran for 121 yards and averaged 5.5 yards a carry against the Baltimore Ravens. This was Harris' third 100-yard rushing game in just six games this season. Harris has nearly 500 yards rushing in that span of time, which is rather impressive.
Fans are able to enjoy how Harris handles himself when running the ball. He runs angry, downhill, and is able to rack up yards at an impressive rate. He blows by defenders and can be relied on to make plays.
So what does Harris' strong play mean for Sony Michel?
Michel hasn't appeared in a game since Week 3 when he ran for 117 yards against the Las Vegas Raiders. While that was an impressive performance, in the two prior games Michel was averaging around three yards a carry. That won't get the job done.
It would not be surprising to see Bill Belichick ride the hot hand. Harris is clearly successful, so why mess with something that's working?
But it's hard to see Michel completely disappearing from the offense in 2020. New England did select him in the first round after all. They are almost obligated to use him in some fashion, especially since they are tied to him contractually through 2021, unless they attempt to trade him.
When Harris needs a break, Michel will likely get a few carries, but besides that don't expect to see him a lot. Michel has struggled to catch the ball out of the backfield, giving the coaching staff another reason not to play him.
If Harris is able to continue to succeed and play at this level for the rest of the season it will be interesting to see what New England ends up doing with Michel. It seems like his days as a member of New England's roster could be coming to an end.
Michel would have to prove a lot in 2021 to show the Patriots that he was worth the investment. If not it wouldn't be surprising to see New England move on from the running back.
So, the performance of Harris in the backfield may very well have cost Michel his starting job. Belichick has given Harris the keys to the running game and it's hard to see the keys changing hands anytime soon.
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