“So, this is what its like to have weekends off in January”
A 2020 Patriots Season Wrap Up
Going into the season there were many questions with not just the Patriots but the NFL season. Here we are in the first week of 2021 and playoffs start up this weekend with the expanded playoffs and many of us did not think we would make it this far due to COVID. With having to move games due to contract tracing and protocols, miraculously the NFL did not have to cancel any games after 17 weeks. The Patriots, like always had the attention of the whole country going into the season as fans wondered how the team would do without Tom Brady. 16 games later, Brady is getting ready for the postseason and Belichick is trying to find ways to get his team back to the promised land.
This past weekend the Patriots wrapped up the 2020 season with a win against the lowly Jets as the team finished the season with a record of 7-9, which was good enough for 3rd in the AFC East. For just the third time in nearly 20 years, the Patriots did not win the AFC east and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 when Tom Brady missed the season with a torn ACL. The insecurity at quarterback all season was a huge problem for the Patriots all season long as they failed to get consistent play. Starting off the season the team looked better than expected despite be 2-2 to start the year. With a win over Miami and then a down to the wire loss that many did not think they had a chance in out west in Seattle, the start gave us hope. After beating the Raiders then losing to the defending champion Chiefs without Cam Newton due to COVID, the team looked solid and defied expectations to start. After the bye week, the teams play went down with the team loosing 4 out of their next 6 games and making their playoff hopes look worse and worse. After two straight wins the team faced the LA Rams on a Thursday Night in which they got blown out 24-3, nearly ending their season early. Losing to the Dolphins and Bills eliminated New England officially but they were still able to come out and take care of the Jets in week 17.
The quarterback play had been in question all season as we watched Cam Newton become more of a runner out of the backfield instead of a quarterback. The inconsistent ability to throw the ball really hurt the Patriot’s offense as they suffered to move the ball down the field in the ladder half of the year. Fans wanted a change at quarterback calling for Jarrett Stidham to get more reps, but Bill stuck with Cam saying, “Cam gives us the best chance to win”. Before the last game of the season, it was revealed that the team and Cam will be parting ways after the season instead of resigning the former MVP. Cam was a great personality and leader as he was a very likeable guy and was easy to root for. It is best for both parties to move on as Cam will find a new home somewhere else this offseason.
Some bright spots on the team were running back Damian Harris as he finally got more reps after sitting out most of his rookie year. The injury to Sony Michel gave Harris the chance to get snaps and he truly may have taken over the running back spot long term as he is a tough runner to bring down. The play from Jakobi Meyers with the Julian Edelman injury early on was another bright spot as he stepped up nicely and was the most consistent receiver on the team all season. Damiere Byrd was also a solid wide out for the team as along with Meyers, was the most consistent on creating separation to get open. The rise of JC Jackson was huge for the team with the uncertainty of Stephon Gilmore in New England. Jackson had 9 INTs on the season, and he could see his role increase with Gilmore possibly on the way out despite being a Pro-Bowler along with Matthew Slater and Jake Bailey.
Going into the offseason the Patriots have a long list of needs. They must address needs on defense with many opt outs due to COVID. The team needs production on offense from not only the receivers, but it needs help from the tight end spot despite drafting two in last years NFL Draft with Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.
After New England blocked a Texans interview with Nick Caserio in 2019, this week the Texans grabbed their man as he signed a 6-year deal with the team. He signed to become the third highest paid GM in the NFL and has a lot to take care of between the trade rumors of Deshaun Watson and rebuilding a 4-12 team.
The quarterback position is of course, the most intriguing story of the off-season as Bill has a variety of options. He may go the veteran route with the interest of soon to be free agent Matthew Stafford or even old friend Jimmy Garoppolo as his future is uncertain in San Francisco. This year’s draft class is also loaded with gunslingers with the top tier being Trevor Lawrence from Clemson, Justin Fields from Ohio State, and Zach Wilson from BYU. With the Pats sitting at 15 in the upcoming draft, the players that could be available are Trey Lance from the FCS school North Dakota State, Kyle Trask from Florida and even Mac Jones from Alabama. Weather Bill thinks he should trade up to acquire a high tier quarterback or hang back and wait for the second wave, it will be interesting to see. He may also take the route I said earlier and look at free agents or the trade market as knowing Bill, he will always draft and do what he thinks is best for the team.
With no playoffs this season it will be weird to have weekends with no Patriots football. I am beyond excited to see how Bill goes about making this team better especially with one year without Brady under his belt and the need for skill players is as high as I can remember. With the draft and free agency on the horizon we should get some answers sooner rather than later. Until then…along with most of New England I will be rooting for that walking legend under center in Tampa Bay.