2020 Pats: 2020 Roster & Beyond (non-QB edition)

E5 Yaz

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Here's one to remember (possibly) in December:

Patriots will collapse to a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft
By Labor Day, I might even push this to top three. Or on the clock.
Tom Brady is in Tampa. Jarrett Stidham is Jarrett Stidham. Yes, Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in the history of sports, but the roster just isn't that good. The problems that ultimately led to New England's undoing down the stretch last season still exist -- in fact, they're probably even more problematic. And the Patriots no longer have the G.O.A.T. to serve as the ultimate deodorant for what stinks. The receiving corps remains underwhelming. I like the long-term upside of the two tight ends New England drafted in the third round -- Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene -- but the roster lacks a proven NFL commodity at the position. The offensive line is average at best. Same with the backfield. Defensively, the Pats went from historic during the team's 8-0 start last season to leaky in the second half of the year. And the unit lost a number of key players, including Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.
I haven't even mentioned the schedule, which is brutal. Check it out. New England will be the inferior team in almost every single game it plays. Road division games in Miami and New York are hardly givens. The Bills will maul the Patriots.
This season in Foxborough has 5-11 written all over it. If everything breaks right. I think the Jaguars, Patriots and Giants are the three worst teams in the NFL right now.

 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Ugh.

Edit: sorry that was meant for the McCourty news. As to the NFL.com article, I don't think they're far off. I may be doom and gloom but I think this year is going to be rough for a lot of people and the losses the took on defense aren't going to be easily overcome.
 
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BaseballJones

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Here's one to remember (possibly) in December:

Patriots will collapse to a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft
...
This season in Foxborough has 5-11 written all over it. If everything breaks right. I think the Jaguars, Patriots and Giants are the three worst teams in the NFL right now.

They may be 5-11 this year (if there's even a season). But that won't be if everything breaks *right*. That will be if it breaks *wrong*. If it breaks *right*....

- The OL is healthy and plays to their capabilities, which makes them a terrific unit.
- The secondary is the NFL's best (or at least top 3), and teams can't throw on them.
- The young defensive players make the leap (Winovich, Williams, Bentley, etc.) and the defense is top 3.
- Key rookies contribute right away and are effective.
- Young offensive players like Harry and Michel improve.
- Stidham is actually good.

If all that happens, there is no chance in hell they're 5-11. I don't see any way they're more than a 10-11 win team if everything breaks right, but if everything breaks right, no way in hell they're 5-11.

That's just clickbait trolling hot take material right there.
 

Captaincoop

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"New England will be the inferior team in almost every game it plays."

First of all, this is false. Second, they will also have the greatest coach in the history of the sport for all of these games, which matters.
 

Saints Rest

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They may be 5-11 this year (if there's even a season). But that won't be if everything breaks *right*. That will be if it breaks *wrong*. If it breaks *right*....

- The OL is healthy and plays to their capabilities, which makes them a terrific unit.
- The secondary is the NFL's best (or at least top 3), and teams can't throw on them.
- The young defensive players make the leap (Winovich, Williams, Bentley, etc.) and the defense is top 3.
- Key rookies contribute right away and are effective.
- Young offensive players like Harry and Michel improve.
- Stidham is actually good.

If all that happens, there is no chance in hell they're 5-11. I don't see any way they're more than a 10-11 win team if everything breaks right, but if everything breaks right, no way in hell they're 5-11.

That's just clickbait trolling hot take material right there.
I would add that the RB core is incredibly deep, with nice complementary skill sets.

This is likely a bit of wish-casting, but I do wonder if Brady's departure will have a bit of Ewing Theory about it. I don't think TB12 was the best QB in terms of making those around him better, either on the field or off the field. To use another metaphor, he sucked up a lot of the oxygen in the room and with him gone, some players, especially younger ones, may find more room to breathe and grow.
 

E5 Yaz

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Peter King isn't much more optimistic

21. New England (12-5, lost AFC wild-card game to Tennessee 20-13)
Well, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are set up to answer the age-old question: Can Belichick win without Tom Brady? In regular-season games in his coaching career, Belichick’s teams are 219-64 with Brady starts, and 54-63 when he doesn’t. Without Brady, Belichick’s won at a .462 clip. With Brady, it’s .774.
This year reminds me of Belichick’s first year or two in New England, when he and Scott Pioli got the cap right by making do with lesser players and the highest-paid player in football, Drew Bledsoe. By 2002, it was Brady’s team, and he flourished. Now, after jettisoning Brady, Rob Gronkowski, center Ted Karras, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and keystone linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Robertsand Jamie Collins, Belichick and Nick Caserio can clean out the cap and rebuild.
The reviews on the 133rd pick in the 2019 draft, Jarrett Stidham, are good, but the shadow of the 199th pick in 2000 will always be a long one for anyone who plays quarterback in New England. There is no book on Stidham, a tough kid who will not be afraid of the hot seat, but his goal is to keep New England in games and leave the Patriots with a decision to make on a quarterback in the 2021 draft. Whatever happens, America will be watching: Four of their final nine games will be in prime time. I think this season breaks the Patriots’ 11-year stranglehold on the AFC East, but I’m pretty sure everyone in that building wants to rub our faces in such predictions, and that’s a great motivator.

 

Super Nomario

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This is likely a bit of wish-casting, but I do wonder if Brady's departure will have a bit of Ewing Theory about it. I don't think TB12 was the best QB in terms of making those around him better, either on the field or off the field.
... we talking about the same Tom Brady here? Is there another Tom Brady I'm not familiar with?
 

Silverdude2167

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Peter King isn't much more optimistic

21. New England (12-5, lost AFC wild-card game to Tennessee 20-13)
Well, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are set up to answer the age-old question: Can Belichick win without Tom Brady? In regular-season games in his coaching career, Belichick’s teams are 219-64 with Brady starts, and 54-63 when he doesn’t. Without Brady, Belichick’s won at a .462 clip. With Brady, it’s .774.
This year reminds me of Belichick’s first year or two in New England, when he and Scott Pioli got the cap right by making do with lesser players and the highest-paid player in football, Drew Bledsoe. By 2002, it was Brady’s team, and he flourished. Now, after jettisoning Brady, Rob Gronkowski, center Ted Karras, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and keystone linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Robertsand Jamie Collins, Belichick and Nick Caserio can clean out the cap and rebuild.
The reviews on the 133rd pick in the 2019 draft, Jarrett Stidham, are good, but the shadow of the 199th pick in 2000 will always be a long one for anyone who plays quarterback in New England. There is no book on Stidham, a tough kid who will not be afraid of the hot seat, but his goal is to keep New England in games and leave the Patriots with a decision to make on a quarterback in the 2021 draft. Whatever happens, America will be watching: Four of their final nine games will be in prime time. I think this season breaks the Patriots’ 11-year stranglehold on the AFC East, but I’m pretty sure everyone in that building wants to rub our faces in such predictions, and that’s a great motivator.

I don't know if I necessarily disagree with the thought that they could be the top team of the bottom tier next year, but I just love how he decided to include the Browns seasons from 30ish years ago in the math without Brady. A better comparison may be the 14-6 (70%) record without Brady in NE, but that doesn't support his narrative as well...
 

ShaneTrot

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I really like this team. I expect them to be tough, well-conditioned, and smart which is more than you can say for half the teams in the league. I expect them to make good plays in stressful situations on offense, special teams, and defense because they practice being under duress. I also enjoy idiots constantly bringing up BB's record without Brady. In his last 20 games without Brady, he is 14-6.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Maybe he means 43 year old Tom Brady who blatantly refuses to throw to those young guys? The same perfectionist who was sailing throws all over the field last year.
I am a huge Brady fanboy but the only way to deny he had some issues last year is to avoid watching the games.

That said, it’s also extraordinarily likely the 2020 version of Brady will be better than what the Pats get at QB, too.
 

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... we talking about the same Tom Brady here? Is there another Tom Brady I'm not familiar with?
As other posters noted, the TB I'm referring to is the one who spent most of last season yelling at his receivers and/or not throwing them to them either by choice or not. I love TB12 as much as anyone but his once-stated belief that his favorite receiver was "the one who was open" was not the same guy we saw lat year.

I also think that the enormous gravity that comes from having TB12 in the locker room does not make it easy for a young player to grow. And that is not a dig on TB12; I think it would apply to playing with LeBron, or MJ in the 90's, or Gretzky in the 80s. Every reporter in that locker room will have TB12 as the first choice not he hit parade for interviews and as a discussion point in most interviews.
 

Oppo

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What teams in the AFC are definitely better than NE? Baltimore and KC, anyone else? Ten had everything go right the second half of the season last year. Steelers counting on Ben coming back and being effective. Houston downgraded. Bills will be a hot pick but that usually doesn’t work out. Everyone else was under .500 / has major flaws. This team will have a decent shot at the 3 spot (or miss the playoffs) but even if they just sneak in the playoffs I doubt anyone will be happy to see them, especially if BB pulls out all the stops knowing he’s got nothing to lose.
 

Ferm Sheller

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I really like this team. I expect them to be tough, well-conditioned, and smart which is more than you can say for half the teams in the league. I expect them to make good plays in stressful situations on offense, special teams, and defense because they practice being under duress. I also enjoy idiots constantly bringing up BB's record without Brady. In his last 20 games without Brady, he is 14-6.
And it would have been 15-5 if the Pats hadn't been forced to start their third string QB, who had a torn ligament in the thumb of his throwing hand and was making his first NFL start.
 

Super Nomario

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As other posters noted, the TB I'm referring to is the one who spent most of last season yelling at his receivers and/or not throwing them to them either by choice or not. I love TB12 as much as anyone but his once-stated belief that his favorite receiver was "the one who was open" was not the same guy we saw lat year.
I disagree with all of this. His distribution of targets was roughly about the same as it is every year. The primary issue last year was his receivers were terrible, and got worse as the season wore on. N'Keal Harry got 14 targets combined in the last two games, and did very very little with them.

I also think that the enormous gravity that comes from having TB12 in the locker room does not make it easy for a young player to grow. And that is not a dig on TB12; I think it would apply to playing with LeBron, or MJ in the 90's, or Gretzky in the 80s. Every reporter in that locker room will have TB12 as the first choice not he hit parade for interviews and as a discussion point in most interviews.
Couldn't you argue that deflects attention away from young players, though, and insulates them to some degree? Certainly there have been lots of young players that have thrived in NE over the years. At any rate, I'm not sure what this has to do with football.

EDIT: All this being said, there is no team in the league for whom 5-11 is a best-case scenario, much less a team still sporting a lot of defensive talent and best coach of his generation.
 
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lexrageorge

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Brady was playing behind a center-less OL that had no left tackle for half the season. None of the tight ends would have been starters on any other team. The WR corps was depleted by injury and ineffectiveness by the end of the season. His big blowup was at Dorsett, who is hardly a rookie and had plenty of time to learn the play calls on the line.
 

JokersWildJIMED

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Here's one to remember (possibly) in December:

Patriots will collapse to a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft
By Labor Day, I might even push this to top three. Or on the clock.
Tom Brady is in Tampa. Jarrett Stidham is Jarrett Stidham. Yes, Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in the history of sports, but the roster just isn't that good. The problems that ultimately led to New England's undoing down the stretch last season still exist -- in fact, they're probably even more problematic. And the Patriots no longer have the G.O.A.T. to serve as the ultimate deodorant for what stinks. The receiving corps remains underwhelming. I like the long-term upside of the two tight ends New England drafted in the third round -- Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene -- but the roster lacks a proven NFL commodity at the position. The offensive line is average at best. Same with the backfield. Defensively, the Pats went from historic during the team's 8-0 start last season to leaky in the second half of the year. And the unit lost a number of key players, including Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.
I haven't even mentioned the schedule, which is brutal. Check it out. New England will be the inferior team in almost every single game it plays. Road division games in Miami and New York are hardly givens. The Bills will maul the Patriots.
This season in Foxborough has 5-11 written all over it. If everything breaks right. I think the Jaguars, Patriots and Giants are the three worst teams in the NFL right now.

I haven't heard Schein since 2019, when in three plus weeks he adamantly picked the Chargers to trounce the Patriots, then "Paddy" Mahomes to trounce to Patriots, then the Rams to trounce the Patriots.
 

RetractableRoof

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There are some other intangibles at play for this coming season as well. Because the Pats were at the top, every year (since BB/Brady as starter) they got the best game out of other teams. The fact that the Pats spanked these teams for so long (despite this best effort) has as we know left a bitter taste in the mouths of many these teams. There is now blood in the water as it were, and teams will be looking to put a beating on the Pats now that they are weakened. The Pats better be ready to go coming out of the gate - specifically the OL. For years, blitzing the Pats was an ineffective/unattractive option because of Brady's experience and film study. It's back on the table, and would expect a heavy dose of it aimed at a young QB. Add to that the potential for a tough schedule, and it's reasonable to think this could be a long year.

Given the experience of the Pats secondary, I foresee a number of 20-17, 17-14 games this year. I've got my fingers crossed that some good contributions from the youth (offense AND defense) and some BB preparedness will see them squeak by on the good side of those scores. If I'm being honest, I see winning the division (no bye) as the dream scenario for the season.
 

Harry Hooper

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I haven't heard Schein since 2019, when in three plus weeks he adamantly picked the Chargers to trounce the Patriots, then "Paddy" Mahomes to trounce to Patriots, then the Rams to trounce the Patriots.
It's true that Brady has departed without a ready-made replacement, and that the Pats have a tough schedule. I think every other contention in that piece is either up for debate or flat-out wrong (e.g., RB squad is average at best).
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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I’m curious as to why some are being defensive about the RB situation. Michel was barely replacement level last year and we have no idea how White will be used without Brady or if he’s as effective in that role. Burkhead can’t stay healthy, we know nothing of Harris and Bolden is a RB about as much as Slater is a WR. Is everyone just chalking it up to Devlin and Gronk being gone? Because they haven’t been replaced. Is this really a unit that can handle getting the box stuffed until Stidham shows they have to honor both facets? I don’t see it.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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I’m curious as to why some are being defensive about the RB situation. Michel was barely replacement level last year and we have no idea how White will be used without Brady or if he’s as effective in that role. Burkhead can’t stay healthy, we know nothing of Harris and Bolden is a RB about as much as Slater is a WR. Is everyone just chalking it up to Devlin and Gronk being gone? Because they haven’t been replaced. Is this really a unit that can handle getting the box stuffed until Stidham shows they have to honor both facets? I don’t see it.
DevElin has been replaced by Vitale (and Jakob Johnson should be back this year as well -- he flashed in the looks he got last year). Gronk wasn't here last year either, so it isn't like the team needs a replacement for him. The rookie Tight Ends could, on paper, help the play-action game, as they seem to be much better than the combination of Frick and Frack that were out their last year.
 

tims4wins

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I have no problem with the RB comments. It’s a deep group with a wide skill set but no top end talent, aside from White as a passing back.

The O line comment is weird though. Mason had a down year but is pretty well regarded, Thuney and Andrews are pretty well regarded, Wynn was a first round pick, and I’ll concede that Cannon is probably middle of the pack or a bit below average RT. But overall that starting group is really good IMO. Top 10 if not better.

The D comments are also odd. Yes the D got worse in the second half, and yes they lost KVN and Collins... but on the flip side, I’d argue that Collins was one of the reasons for the slide - he disappeared in the second half. They also will have a second year Wino and a new piece in Uche (who we shouldn’t expect to play too many snaps, granted). Probably the best, deepest secondary in the league. Meh up front but they’ll scheme up rush and cover like hell.

Plus great special teams - obviously kicker is a question but kicker wasn’t a strength last year anyway - and BB.

Weird article. Obviously it was meant as a hot take but it’s premature.
 

Harry Hooper

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I’m curious as to why some are being defensive about the RB situation. Michel was barely replacement level last year and we have no idea how White will be used without Brady or if he’s as effective in that role. Burkhead can’t stay healthy, we know nothing of Harris and Bolden is a RB about as much as Slater is a WR. Is everyone just chalking it up to Devlin and Gronk being gone? Because they haven’t been replaced. Is this really a unit that can handle getting the box stuffed until Stidham shows they have to honor both facets? I don’t see it.
The replacement C couldn't run block, plus the other OL difficulties in 2019. Running game should look a good deal better with the return of Andrews and hopefully Mason getting back in form, along with something close to average blocking from the TE and FB positions.
 

Super Nomario

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The replacement C couldn't run block, plus the other OL difficulties in 2019. Running game should look a good deal better with the return of Andrews and hopefully Mason getting back in form, along with something close to average blocking from the TE and FB positions.
The bolded is no guarantee; I like Asiasi and Keene as blockers, but they're rookies and LaCosse and Izzo didn't exactly light it up in the ground game in 2019. Vitale is more of a Swiss army knife than a throwback blocker. It's also important to note that the 2018 running offense's reputation has far outstripped reality; they finished 20th in rush average that year and were very bad on the goal line in the regular season (and they had two terrific TE blockers in Gronk and Dwayne Allen, Andrews, Develin, and Trent Brown).

So far Michel has looked like just a guy. He's basically another Ridley or BJGE. Neither of those guys were problems but we had Brady lighting up the scoreboard when they were the primary ballcarriers. From what we've seen so far, Michel is not up to being the focal point of the offense.
 

Saints Rest

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I disagree with all of this. His distribution of targets was roughly about the same as it is every year. The primary issue last year was his receivers were terrible, and got worse as the season wore on. N'Keal Harry got 14 targets combined in the last two games, and did very very little with them.


Couldn't you argue that deflects attention away from young players, though, and insulates them to some degree? Certainly there have been lots of young players that have thrived in NE over the years. At any rate, I'm not sure what this has to do with football.

EDIT: All this being said, there is no team in the league for whom 5-11 is a best-case scenario, much less a team still sporting a lot of defensive talent and best coach of his generation.
I could easily see that argument. I'm not sitting here 100% convinced that The Ewing Theory will apply, but rather that it might. I could also see your argument about it being more likely.

But I do believe that what happens off the field does impact what happens on the field.
 

Super Nomario

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I could easily see that argument. I'm not sitting here 100% convinced that The Ewing Theory will apply, but rather that it might. I could also see your argument about it being more likely.

But I do believe that what happens off the field does impact what happens on the field.
Aside from the Ewing Theory being half-baked nonsense from an unserious sportswriter, a big part of that formula is that the "Ewing" has to be a guy who is not really a winner. Brady obviously is the opposite of that; he's the greatest winner the NFL has seen since the merger. And he's been a winner recently, too.
 

nighthob

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DevElin has been replaced by Vitale (and Jakob Johnson should be back this year as well -- he flashed in the looks he got last year). Gronk wasn't here last year either, so it isn't like the team needs a replacement for him. The rookie Tight Ends could, on paper, help the play-action game, as they seem to be much better than the combination of Frick and Frack that were out their last year.
The Patriots have upgraded the TE spot, but given its reliance on two 3rd round picks still projects as a bottom five unit. The biggest problem I see, though, is a defense that was built to play with the lead, which New England just isn’t going to have very often next year.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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The Patriots have upgraded the TE spot, but given its reliance on two 3rd round picks still projects as a bottom five unit. The biggest problem I see, though, is a defense that was built to play with the lead, which New England just isn’t going to have very often next year.
I agree with your take. I was taking issue with "Have done nothing to replace Gronk". That ship sailed away last year, when it would have been a valid complaint... they have started to address it this year. Can we get 42/550/10 from them (combined) for the first year (Gronk's rookie stat line ) -- I think that is doable.

To your second point... I may be overthinking this... but if the D has to play from behind-- I think it has the DB's to do so. Meaning they can commit one more person to the box, and trust the 1:1 coverage on the outside. But I will admit to just being a fan and not a student of the game, so my take could be (and likely is) completely wrong.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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I agree with your take. I was taking issue with "Have done nothing to replace Gronk". That ship sailed away last year, when it would have been a valid complaint... they have started to address it this year. Can we get 42/550/10 from them (combined) for the first year (Gronk's rookie stat line ) -- I think that is doable.
If you're referring to me, my comment isn't about Gronk's receiving it's about his blocking, which there's no reason to think has been replaced. That ship sailing away last year led a middle of the road rushing game in 2018 to even deeper depths last season. They simply don't have the elite blocking to turn them into a powerhouse running team. The line is above average but its not exactly a bunch of road graders out there. I hope I'm wrong. Just like I hope I'm wrong when I laugh at thinking they'll be in contention for the #3 seed.
 

BaseballJones

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To your second point... I may be overthinking this... but if the D has to play from behind-- I think it has the DB's to do so. Meaning they can commit one more person to the box, and trust the 1:1 coverage on the outside. But I will admit to just being a fan and not a student of the game, so my take could be (and likely is) completely wrong.
Check this out:

https://touchdownwire.usatoday.com/2020/05/28/man-coverage-patriots-seahawks-stephon-gilmore-bill-belichick/

Supports your notion in bold.
 

Mooch

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File this under "and beyond": If the 2020 NFL season gets cut back due to COVID and league revenues fall off, the 2021 Salary Cap will go down, possibly by a significant amount. According to this article, the Pats are one of only a handful of teams who could benefit from such a drop based on their current 2021 committed payroll:

 

BaseballJones

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Interesting, @Mooch. Makes me wonder if one reason BB is sticking with Stidham is the very low cap number, with something like this in mind. Obviously he didn't see COVID coming back in January, but maybe two months ago he was like, you know what, this thing could wreak havoc on the season and who the hell knows what it could do to the salary cap...we like Stidham anyway, and having such a low $$ figure attached to our QB could be huge if things go crazy.