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How Good can Michael Floyd be for the Pats?

Joe Stafford ‘18, Contributor

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The New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins in their last regular season game of the season with a score of 35-14. The team finished 14-2 on the year, which is good for the #1 seed in the AFC. For the umpteenth time, the road to the playoffs will run through Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady had another record-setting day in Miami this week, throwing for three touchdowns. Those touchdowns helped him clinch the best touchdown to interception ratio in NFL history, 28:2. Julian Edelman had an amazing day as well, capped by his 77 yard touchdown that put the nail in the Dolphins’s coffin. But this day would not have been nearly the same without the emergence of newly acquired pass-catcher Michael Floyd.

Cited for his second DUI in December, Floyd was cut by the Cardinals who were fed up by his inconsistent behavior and play this year (33 catches, 4 touchdowns). Many believed that he would not get another chance and some thought he would face jail time (he still might). But, Bill Belichick being Bill Belichick, took the troubled star off waivers and gave him a second chance. The Patriots have been known to never shy away from a player with problems, whether they be on the field or off the field (i.e. LeGarrette Blount, Chad Ochocinco, Randy Moss, Corey Dillon). Some of them work out, some of them don’t, but Belichick never backs down from a player with a rap sheet. This was the case for Floyd.

The Pats’s system has been renowned for its complexity, often confusing players due to the amount of pre-snap reads and film work that is required for its success. It takes players many weeks, even multiple months to fully understand the system and even longer for the player to emerge in the offense. However, Floyd seems to be an exception, especially after week 17. In his first game in a Patriots jersey against the Jets, Floyd caught only one ball for 6 yards in garbage time from backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He was targeted once by Tom Brady earlier in the game, effectively posterizing a Jets defensive back but was ruled out of bounds. A few days after that game, the injury report was released for the upcoming week which listed Malcolm Mitchell as doubtful, giving way for a more expanded role for Floyd the next week. Floyd started the game against Miami and immediately had an impact.

The impact of a big name player like Floyd combined with Tom Brady cannot be understated. Brady threw to Floyd on a slant at the Dolphins 10 yard line in the second quarter, and no one expected what came next. Floyd broke a tackle right after the catch and plunged into a Dolphins defender at the 4 yard line. The Dolphins swarmed Floyd with 5 different players in an attempt to bring him down before the goal line. Floyd took on all of them, churning his legs like a freight train turns its wheels, and powered through the defenders into the end zone. Pats fans around the country erupted in cheer as our new wide out celebrated with his teammates. This was only one of his impressive plays on the day; he later ensured a touchdown for fellow receiver Julian Edelman.

Edelman caught a laser from Tom Brady and began to dodge and weave through defenders, picking up speed with every step. He crossed the field and appeared to be in range of Dolphin secondary member Tony Lippett. Lippett began to close in and out of nowhere Michael Floyd came rumbling in and absolutely obliterated Lippett from the side with a clean, but powerful block. Edelman proceeded to strut into the end zone with no one else in sight. A huge play made possible by Michael Floyd.

Many (most notably Michael Felger) believed that the Floyd acquisition was a terrible move and that it would blow up in the face of the Patriots organization. I firmly believe this game should change around those opinions from negativity into hope. Just imagine Brady with yet another weapon. Barring any significant injury, the Patriots seem to have the best team in the playoffs this year. For those that say otherwise, I invite you to think of the following. What other team has Tom Brady combined with the league’s rushing touchdown leader in LeGarrette Blount? What other team has this much depth in all three phases of the game? Who else has more playoff experience than this team? And finally, what other team has overcome as much offseason turmoil than the Patriots when Tom Brady was falsely suspended for 4 games to begin the year? The answer to all of these questions is no one. Floyd only adds to the excellence that is the New England Patriots.

The real question mark is how good Floyd can potentially be? This Sunday provided a flash of greatness that he exhibited over his career in Arizona. His big play ability cannot be overlooked. One of the few holes in the Patriots system is that it makes it hard for a true number one receiver to thrive because the system’s success rests on the shoulders of all of the playmakers, not just a single person. Floyd is used to that type of play, coming from an offense run by QB-guru Bruce Arians and sharing the spotlight with the most reliable receiver from the past decade in Larry Fitzgerald. I believe that Floyd fathoms the opportunity he has in New England, a real shot at the Super Bowl. If he stops the antics off the field and continues to produce like he did in Week 17, then the sky is the limit for Floyd and a 5th Lombardi Trophy may be on its way to Patriot Place.

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How Good can Michael Floyd be for the Pats?