NFL Week 5
Photo Credit: USA Today

NFL Week 5 surprises

Sony Michel: 34.21

By OSM metrics, New England Patriots running back Sony Michel was the best runner in the NFL this weekend. This is notable because he had a rough start to the season. His overall grade going into Week 5 was just 9.15, and his grade in Week 1 was actually in the negatives, implying that his play was actively harmful to his production.

But this Sunday against the Washington Redskins, Michel had what was easily his best game of the year according to the OSM. His grade this week was 34.21, the highest among qualifying running backs by almost 10 points. And it wasn’t as though he was placed in easy situations either.

Michel faced the highest percentage of plays in which the defense had eight or more defenders in the box at 62.5%. None of the other running backs in the top five in efficiency were in that situation more than 16% of the time. In fact, only two players so far this week saw eight defenders near the line of scrimmage more than 50% of the time: Michel, and Le’Veon Bell.

Despite those difficulties, Michel had an efficiency rating of 3.03, the fourth highest of the week so far. Instead of dancing around to avoid defenders, Michel ran straight at them. And his efficiency in those difficult circumstances led to him averaging 5.7 yards per carry, higher than all but four other qualifying players. In short, he was back to the high level of play we saw from him during stretches of his rookie season. The Patriots almost certainly didn’t need him to play that well against a Redskins team that has already proven to be one of the worst in the NFL, but it was still very encouraging to see.