NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS SUCCESSFUL OFFSEASON
Article written by Dylan McGuire Devine (5/2/21)
After finishing the 2020-21 season with a record of 7-9 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the Patriots were a team that definitely had eyes on them this off-season. They really needed improvement at multiple positions on both sides of the ball. For the first time in the franchise history, New England went on a spending spree and signed multiple big name free agents.
One of the biggest problems with the Patriots last season was that their QB1, Cam Newton had practically no weapons to throw the ball to. Yes, Newton is obviously no Tom Brady and is not a top QB in the NFL, but he has been a top guy before. I truly believe if he had some weapons with him on offense he would have looked a lot different last season. Improving their lack of offensive weapons (specifically receivers) was a top priority for the Patriots this off-season. They brought in some real studs. The Patriots acquired two of the top Tight Ends in the league, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Along with acquiring these two offensive weapons, they added two new receivers in Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. All of these pickups are huge upgrades to what New England’s offense looked like last season. Obviously Julian Edelman retiring is a huge loss for the Patriots offseason, but with a group of receivers consisting of Henry, Smith, Agholor, Bourne, N’Keal Harry, and Jakobi Meyers they are still set to be way better then they were last season.
Hunter Henry career stats – 196 receptions, 2,322 receiving yards, 21 touchdowns
Jonnu Smith career stats – 114 receptions, 1,302 receiving yards, 16 touchdowns
Nelson Agholor career stats – 272 receptions, 3,411 receiving yards, 26 touchdowns
Kendrick Bourne career stats – 137 receptions, 1,769 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns
Rushing wise, New England has one of the most underrated RB groups in the NFL in my opinion. The group consists of Sony Michel, James White, and Damien Harris. IMO Harris should be RB1 this season. He had a great 2020-21 season and showed some real potential. Have Michel and Harris be the main rushers and White be primarily a receiving back.
On the defensive side of the ball, New England had some great pickups, LB Matt Judon, SS/CB Jalen Mills, and DT Davon Godchaux being the most notable names. If everyone can stay healthy, this defense has the potential to be very scary.
Matt Judon career stats – 34.5 sacks, 167 solo tackles, seven forced fumbles
Jalen Mills career stats – 227 tackles, five interceptions
Davon Godchaux career stats – three sacks, 100 solo tackles, one forced fumble
Now regarding this years draft picks, the Patriots had one of their best drafts in recent memory. The biggest pickup being drafting top prospect QB Mac Jones out of Alabama with the 15th pick. This was best case scenario for New England. Obviously if they had the chance to draft Justin Fields that would have been great, but getting Jones at 15 and not having to give anything up is great. Jones IMO will end up finishing this coming season as QB1 in New England. I think Newton will start the season as the starter, but by the end of the season a new era will begin in New England with Mac Jones being their guy.
Other notable draft pickups : DT Christian Barmore (Alabama) , LB Cameron McGrone (Michigan) , RB Rhamondre Stevenson (Oklahoma)
With all of these pickups and improvements to the team, I believe New England has a real chance at making the playoffs this season and getting back to being a top team in the NFL.