Six Players Most Crucial to the Patriots’ Success on Offense
It’s no secret the Patriots’ defense was the strength of the team during the 2019 NFL season. The offense started the season strong, but the group struggled to move the ball as the season progressed. To avoid that same fate in the 2020 season, everyone on the offensive side of the ball needs to produce at a higher rate. With that being said, there are certain players more important to the success of the offense than others. In this article, we’ll tell you the six players most crucial to the Patriots’ success on offense in 2020.
David Andrews: Coming back after missing the 2019 season, David Andrews is going to provide a big boost to the offense, particularly in the run game. His leadership is also a big plus.
Devin Asiasi: Devin Asiasi projects as tight end one, so he’ll be on the field early and often. Expectations should be kept reasonable for a rookie tight end, but if Asiasi can block well and serve as a middle of the field target, he’ll be valuable to this offense.
6.) James White
Running backs don’t hold the same value they once did around the NFL, but that doesn’t change the fact James White is one of the most crucial pieces on the Patriots’ offense. White isn’t your average back. His impact on the game is felt far more through the air than on the ground. Last season, White had 72 catches for 645 yards. The season before that, he had 87 catches for 751 yards and 7 touchdowns. When ranking the best receiving backs in the NFL, White is near the top. His importance to the offense goes beyond the field as he’s also a team captain.
As good as White has been throughout his career, it’s possible he takes another step in 2020. If Cam Newton starts at quarterback, it’s very possible the Patriots opt to use more shotgun formation, which means more snaps for White.
With Carolina, Newton and Christian McCaffrey feasted on defenses out of the shotgun formation. By no means is White at the level of McCaffrey, but both have similar skillsets. Look for White to have another strong season.
5.) N’Keal Harry
The lack of weapons on the Patriots last season was very apparent. To avoid another season with every offensive possession feeling like a struggle, the Patriots need guys to increase their production in 2020. Mohamed Sanu is a big part of the solution at receiver, but if the Patriots truly want to take their offense to the next level, they need 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry to take a second-year jump. Between injuries and missing practice time, Harry was all out of sorts in year one. Harry missed most of the preseason and over half of the regular season, which led to a 12 catch rookie season.
Yes, Harry struggled to create separation and wasn’t precise with his routes, but there’s still hope he can produce at a high level. He’s shown good run after the catch ability, and he’s been successful as a go up and get it wide receiver. The Patriot will try and utilize both those skills more often this season.
N’Keal Harry is such a dynamic runner. One thing I expect the Patriots to do more of is get the ball to N’Keal Harry in space. Let him create. pic.twitter.com/hjg7MsNVu0— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) July 9, 2020
Meanwhile, we’ve seen Harry using this offseason to focus on his footwork, which is critical to his development. If the Patriots hope to be dangerous on offense in 2020, they need a wide receiver two. Can Harry be that? It’s still up in the air but in the end, Harry needs some kind of jump in production or the Patriots will struggle once again.
4.) Joe Thuney
The franchise tag placed on Joe Thuney this offseason should tell you all you need to know about his value to this Patriots team. Thuney’s tag is worth $14.78 million dollars, a hefty price for an interior lineman, but it’s money well spent. The last time the Patriots used the franchise tag was in 2015 on Stephen Gostkowski. Before that? Wes Welker in 2012. The Patriots don’t throw the tag around often.
Throughout his career in New England, Thuney has been a model of durability, consistency, and versatility. Thuney played 100% of the offensive snaps in the first three years of his career followed by 99% in his fourth season (last year). Being that durable brings incredible value to a football team.
Aside from staying healthy, Thuney is also able to stay on the field because he’s one of the best guards in the NFL. Remember Super Bowl LIII? Thuney went one-on-one in key spots against Aaron Donald, the best defensive tackle in football, and Thuney won. Lastly, it’s important to remember Thuney has positional versatility. Although it’s a small sample size, Thuney has shown the ability to play the tackle spot, specifically in Week One last year. With limited tackle depth, that could be very important.
3.) Julian Edelman
If you subtract Julian Edelman from the offense last season, you’re left with very few bright spots. Edelman was the only receiver able to consistently get open. Fighting through serious injuries and a barrage of double teams, Edelman still found himself with 100 catches for 1,117 yards. It isn’t just statistics with Edleman though– he showed a lot of heart and leadership carrying a recieving core each and every week while battling serious pain in his knee and shoulder.
It’s unlikely Edelman has to lift this year’s recieving core the same way he did last season, but that doesn’t change his importance to this offense. Having him on the field is going to give most, if not all the other receivers one-on-one opportunities. Edelman is constantly being double or even triple-teamed by the opposition. Receivers like Harry and Sanu will be improved and should win some of those matchups but ultimately, when you need a big-time catch you’re going to Edelman. As the Patriots shift to a new starting quarterback for the first time in decades, they’ll rely on Edelman to be the security blanket of the offense.
2.) Isaiah Wynn
Isaiah Wynn has one of the most important jobs in football; protecting the quarterback at the tackle position. Before Marcus Cannon opted out of the upcoming season Wynn wouldn’t have ranked up quite this high, but Cannon did and now Wynn is more critical to this team than ever. The tackle postion can’t afford to lose another starter. The backups, while promising, are unproven.
There’s no denying how good Wynn can be. He’s shown great potential in limited action. The problem is his injury concerns. Wynn has only played in eight games through his first two seasons in the league. In those eight games, we’ve seen a franchise left tackle, but we need to see more. The bottom line is this; Wynn needs to stay healthy, otherwise, the Patriots will have to dig deeper into unproven tackle depth already being used to replace Cannon.
1.) Cam Newton (or whoever starts at Quarterback)
In terms of value to a team’s success, there’s no position more important than a quarterback. Cam Newton won’t be handed the starting job, but it’s hard to imagine him not having the leg up on Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. The biggest question when it comes to Newton is his health, but in his latest press conference, Newton declared himself healthy. The video below is a very small glimpse of why a healthy Cam Newton is great news for the Patriots.
Cam Newton on his health: “I feel amazing… I feel great… I’m full go.” Here’s a little glimpse of what a healthy Cam Newton brings to the football field. pic.twitter.com/1TPEZTYq0a— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) August 8, 2020
Some may try and say Newton is a one-hit-wonder but that thought process is misguided. Newton may have won the MVP in 2015, but he’s been a good quarterback throughout the entirety of his career. In 14 games in 2018, Newton threw for 3,395 yards and 24 touchdowns with a 67.9% completion rate. If Newton can duplicate that performance the Patriots should be favorites in the AFC East.
At the end of the day, nobody has more of an impact on a football game than a quarterback and that’s why Cam Newton (or whoever starts at quarterback) is most crucial to the success of this offense.
Let us know if you agree with our rankings in the comment section below!
2 thoughts on “Six Players Most Crucial to the Patriots’ Success on Offense”
3of them being linemen shows importance of qb and how much protection and thus time for receivers to get open is important. Still comes down to everyone doing best they can stressing it’s a team sport. Yes if receivers and tight ends get attention then white has better chance to get open, providing an has time Andrews returning is big Cam’s ability to avoid hits and extend plays are two things missing last year.
Thanks for reading! And yes I agree the line is critical for this team. If they stay healthy, they’ll be the strongest unit on the offense.