The Michigan Wolverines are the seventh ranked team in the county and have a 10-2 record. They will be playing against Florida in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl and have an opportunity to finish the season ranked in the AP Top Five. Despite this success, many of the Wolverine faithful are disappointed with the outcome of this season.
Just a few short weeks ago Michigan was a favorite to make the College Football Playoff but that dream quickly evaporated after the Ohio State Buckeyes dismantled Michigan in a forgettable edition of The Game. After that loss, many questions loomed for the Wolverines but none more important than the status of junior quarterback Shea Patterson’s decision to stay at Michigan for one more year, or to leave a year early to enter the NFL draft.
As Michigan waits for Shea Patterson to decide what he is going to do, fans remain split on the topic. Some would like to see Patterson leave to make room for Dylan McCaffrey to take over the starting spot whereas some want to see Shea Patterson stay one more year and build on what he was able to accomplish this season.
As far as I’m concerned, the answer that Michigan fans should be hoping for is obvious: Shea Patterson gives the Wolverines the best chance to win next season, and it is clear that it would be in the best interest of the program for him to return for his senior year. Let me tell you why…
For starters, Shea Patterson is the best quarterback that Michigan has had under Jim Harbaugh by far. He’s mobile, has a great football IQ, and makes plays in big moments; something Harbaugh’s previous QB’s certainly lacked. Anyone who blamed Michigan’s shortcomings this year on Shea Patterson clearly didn’t watch this team very closely.
Patterson led a team that was 8-5 last season to 10 wins with a chance at an 11th in a bowl game against a good Florida team, he beat rival MSU with ease as well as every other Big Ten team not named Ohio State and made big plays all season long. The major difference from last year’s roster to this year is Shea Patterson which shows just how much a good quarterback was able to improve this team.
But everybody who watched Michigan this season knows all of that. They know Shea has talent but there are still some who think McCaffrey gives Michigan a better shot at the Playoff. McCaffrey did play great as a backup and showed he was more than capable of making big plays, but it was an extremely small sample size.
Often times McCaffrey came in with the game out of reach and the second unit in. Most players play their best when they’ve got nothing to lose which is exactly where McCaffrey was when he was in the game.
I think McCaffrey has talent and could be a great quarterback but I don’t think we know enough to put him above Shea Patterson. Patterson has proven he can lead a good team to a great record. Not to mention, there’s no guarantee that McCaffrey will come back the same player after he recovers from his broken collarbone.
Even if McCaffrey comes back next season better than he is right now, Shea Patterson will also have a full off-season to work with Jim Harbaugh which could take Patterson to the next level. When Jim Harbaugh came to Michigan he was known as a quarterback guru. He coached Andrew Luck at Stanford and got the best out of Colin Kaepernick when he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Needless to say, Harbaugh has a proven track record of coaching good quarterbacks.
In Harbaugh’s four years at Michigan, Shea Patterson could be the first quarterback to start in back-to-back seasons for the Wolverines (excluding Wilton Speight who got hurt at the beginning of his second year). Remember, when Shea Patterson got to Michigan he had to learn a complete new style of offense than what he was used to running at Ole Miss. Another off-season of learning and perfecting this offense could take the Wolverines over the hump.
Don’t believe a second year will make much of a difference? Just look at what Andrew Luck was able to do under Harbaugh in his second season…
In Luck’s second season with Stanford, he threw for 763 more yards, 19 more touchdowns, and increased his passer rating from 143.5 to 170.2. He also finished the season second in Heisman trophy voting. Now, I’m not saying Shea Patterson is Andrew Luck and I’m certainly not saying he will be a top Heisman candidate, but I am saying that the more he learns this offense and gets on the same page as Harbaugh the better he will be.
Not to mention, sticking around for one more year would give Patterson a full offseason to develop chemistry with all three of Michigan’s talented wide receivers. Patterson was starting to click with Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones at the end of the year but never seemed to get on the same page with Tarik Black, who is arguably the Wolverines’ most talented of the three.
The main reason Patterson would consider leaving is because of the weak QB class entering the NFL this season. Since it’s a “down year” a lot of people believe Patterson could be one of the top five quarterbacks taken. Although that may sound lucrative, I believe Patterson would have more value and ultimately more of an impact on an NFL team if he developed even more and put up better numbers with Michigan next season.
Why settle for the NFL just because it is a weak QB class when he could increase his draft stock in a better class by playing superb football one more year with the Wolverines?
Although the Wolverine defense will lose some key pieces, Don Brown will make them great once again. If Patterson stays another year and increases his familiarity with this offense, the Wolverines could certainly be playing meaningful football at the end of the season as they look to compete for the Playoff in consecutive seasons.
For any Michigan fan craving relevance, desperately wanting to be considered one of the top football programs once again, Shea Patterson is the guy that gives Michigan the best shot to make that happen. Now, it’s up for him to decide.