Here’s what the Patriots backfield might look like after the Lamar Miller signing.
The New England Patriots shocked fans on Monday when they signed Lamar Miller to a one-year contract. Not only is the fit questionable, but the timing of the deal was rather interesting as well.
As we know, Miller missed the entirety of the 2019 campaign after tearing his ACL during the preseason. What will ease the minds of Patriots fans, however, is that the 26-year-old running back has been taking to social media pretty regularly with workout videos that seem to show he’s healthy and ready to roll.
It’s widely understood that New England took a chance on Miller because projected starter Sony Michel was placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) ahead of training camp after offseason foot surgery. The deal could hint that the former first-round pick might not be all systems go for the start of 2020.
Either way, Michel figures to enter the fold pretty early in the season, so let’s take a look at how the Patriots could plan to split up the carries.
Assuming that Miller checks all of the health boxes and picks up the playbook in a timely manner, we expect him to be the starter in Week 1. What makes the 2018 Pro Bowler so valuable to New England is his speed, which has been lacking in the team’s backfield for a few years. As quick and shifty as James White is, he’s nowhere near effective as a runner as he is as a receiver out of the backfield.
The arrival of Miller gives the Patriots the perfect opportunity to keep opposing defenses on their toes. Running back committees are growing in popularity throughout the NFL and there’s a reason for that — they’re extremely effective. Giving Miller the early down work while deploying Michel as the third down and goal line back should be the way forward for New England.
There’s also nothing wrong with riding the hot hand. If Michel is out-gaining Miller during a game, give the Georgia product the bulk of the carries. Whatever the case, something like a 13-10 split would be an ideal split and should keep both players satisfied.
If Michel can’t go, Miller is more than capable of absorbing his duties, too. We’ll simply have to wait and see if there’s more cause for alarm with Michel than the team is letting on.