Biggest Reasons to be Optimistic about the Patriots in 2020

For a multitude of reasons, the Patriots’ 2020 offseason has been one of the most unique in recent memory. The offseason has featured a ton of changes, mostly due to the ongoing pandemic, but also the departure of Tom Brady. There’s no doubt the upcoming season is the beginning of a new era for New England. A new era means new expectations and in this article, we’ll tell you the biggest reasons to be optimistic about the Patriots in 2020.

The Secondary

Not only was the Patriots’ secondary one of the best in football last season, but it also returns a majority of its key players. Patrick Chung, who opted out of the 2020 season, is the one key departure from the 2019 group. Chung has been extremely important to the secondary over the years, but the 2020 safety room is capable of handling his absence. Our favorite to start at strong safety remains Adrian Phillips. We recently published an in-depth film breakdown on Phillips and his ability to replace Chung here.

Beyond Phillips, the Patriots also have Terrence Brooks to help ease the loss of Chung. If you need more reason to not worry about the safety postion, enter Kyle Dugger. It’s very early, but Dugger has been playing lights out in training camp. It’s possible he plays some strong safety, but with Phillips and Brooks manning that spot, it might make more sense to use him in the Duron Harmon role. Again, it’s early, but Dugger has shown the ability to play a deep safety role.

As for the corner group, they’ll once again be one of the best in the league. Watching them play last season was a treat. Big plays, like the one below, happened on a weekly basis. Expect that to continue in 2020.

Additionally, the continuity between the corners is a huge advantage in a shortened training camp. While most position groups are having to work quickly to get on the same page, the corners are returning every starter from a season ago. The group led by Stephon Gilmore is a well-oiled machine.

Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels catches a lot of heat, but he’s really good at his job. Was last season his best performance? No, but he was severely handicapped with the lack of available talent on offense. Even during a down year for McDaniels and the offense, the Patriots still ranked seventh in points scored. It wasn’t perfect by any means, it was even ugly at times, but it’s still true that McDaniels is a great offensive mind.

Having an experienced guy like McDaniels around while building an offense around a new quarterback for the first time in two decades is extremely valuable. We previously examined how a McDaniels-led offense might look if Cam Newton starts, you can read it here.

Regardless of whoever wins the starting job, the offense is going to have some growing pains, especially with no preseason games, but fans should feel optimistic with McDaniels leading the way.

The Youth Movement

Because of opt-outs and free agency departures, the youth movement in New England probably came sooner than expected, but it needed to happen. The Patriots were one of the oldest teams in football the past couple of seasons. Now, as we approach the season the Patriots are set to have multiple young players step into key roles. It’s still early in training camp but initial reports indicate a lot of the young guys are standing out so far.

All the guys listed in the tweet above have a great chance to play a good amount of snaps this year; Dugger as a backup hybrid strong/free safety, Devin Asiasi as the starting tight end, Damien Harris as the lead-back, and Jakob Johnson as the starting fullback. Look deeper into the roster and you’ll see there are more chances for the youth of this roster to earn roles on the team. Some of the most notable names are rookies Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings. Uche who’s more of an off-ball linebacker and Jennings who’s more of an edge guy could both find themselves playing key snaps during their rookie season.

All the hype aside, younger doesn’t always mean better especially when there’s no preseason football. There’s going to be growing pains for all these guys, but that shouldn’t dampen the optimism. Getting some of these players out there will give them a good chance to grow and develop. If the Patriots can hit on some of these recent draft picks, they’ll be in very good shape for the future. That’s something to be excited about.

Embracing the Underdog Role

Remember the Patriots’ 2018-2019 Super Bowl run? That playoff run we saw the Patriots truly embrace the underdog role. They took that chip on their shoulder and ran with it all the way to a Super Bowl title. To some extent, the Patriots have always used the underdog role for motivation, but will it ever be more true than this season? After losing Tom Brady, many have questioned how successful the Patriots can truly be. Some have even suggested they tank. We believe you’re going to see the Patriots fully embrace the underdog role this season.

Embracing a mindset doesn’t directly lead to wins and it can’t be counted on a scoreboard, but a focused team with a singular mindset is dangerous. Players feed off that energy.

A Healthier Offensive Line

Even with Marcus Cannon opting out, the offensive line is still the best position group on the Patriots’ offense. In 2018, the Patriots’ offensive line was one of the best in the NFL. The group struggled a bit in the 2019 season, but they were still an above-average offensive line. A big source of their issues last season was injuries. David Andrews missed the entire season with blood clots in his lungs while Isaiah Wynn only played in eight games due to a foot injury. Fortunately, both are healthy heading into 2020.

Getting Andrews back is huge for three reasons: 1.) Andrews has evolved into a team leader. He’s the quarterback of the offensive line. 2.) The run game, which took a step back last season, will improve greatly with him back. 3.) Because Andrews can move so well, he’s a great asset in the screen game. For example, watch Andrews (#60) on this screen pass against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.

When it comes to Isaiah Wynn it’s important to remember he actually finished the season healthy, all of his missed time was Week 3 – Week 10. In a recent interview, Wynn talked about how this is his first NFL offseason that he hasn’t spent rehabbing. That’s huge news considering the Patriots need him now more than ever because of the Cannon opt-out. If Wynn can stay healthy throughout the entire upcoming season, there’s no doubt in our eyes he’s poised for a breakout year. At the end of the day, the right tackle position will need to be filled but having a healthy Andrews and Wynn makes the offensive line a huge strength.

Bill Belichick

Is there any coach you’d rather have than Bill Belichick? Belichick is the greatest coach of all time and with him at the helm, the Patriots are always going to be in the mix of things.

There’s no denying that coaching is always important, but with shortened practice time and no preseason games to evaluate talent, it’s even more crucial now than ever. The Patriots may not have the most talented team in the NFL, but their coaching advantage remains very very real.

Let me know why you’re optimistic for the season in the comments below!

Website | + posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *