Winners and Losers From the Patriots Week 1 Victory

There’s no better way to start a new season than with a win, and that’s exactly what the Patriots did. New England won Sunday’s game 21-11 against the Miami Dolphins. Overall the Patriots had a good team performance, but in this article, we want to highlight specific players that stood out and specific players that struggled. Without further ado, here are our winners and losers from the Patriots Week 1 victory.


Cam Newton

There was no bigger winner from Sunday’s victory than Cam Newton. In his Patriots debut, Newton was 15-19 with 155 yards passing. More importantly, he had 15 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns. In the video below you can see his first touchdown carry.

It’s likely this is the type of stat line we see from Newton all season long. He’s not going to drop back to pass 40 times a game, but he’ll throw off play-action and RPO’S and he’ll have high usage in the run game. As time goes on, they’ll use his arm a little more, but this is a run-first team.

Newton’s strong performance on Sunday makes it even harder to understand why the Patriots were the only team to give Newton a contract offer this offseason. If we learned anything on Sunday, it’s that Newton can still very much be a productive quarterback in the NFL.

The Offensive Line

Newton played great Sunday, but we have to acknowledge the Patriots offensive line, specifically their role in the run game. All afternoon we saw the offensive line opening up holes in the run game. The result was 217 rushing yards with an average of 5.2 yards per carry.

It’s important to note the impact of the return of David Andrews. Andrews has excelled as a run blocker throughout his career and he continued that on Sunday. In pass protection, the offensive line allowed two sacks. That’s something they’ll need to clean up, but overall their strong performance in the run game outweighs a few struggles in pass protection.

Going into the season, the offensive line was the strength of the offense so it’s nice to see them perform at their expected high level. New England will continue to lean on strong offensive line play all season long.

Adrian Phillips

Truthfully, the entire secondary could be placed on the winner’s list, especially J.C. Jackson. The secondary was lockdown for most of the day and ended the game with three interceptions. With that being said, we wanted to highlight one player in particular, and that player is Adrian Phillips.

When Patrick Chung opted out, we wrote an article discussing Phillips as an ideal replacement. On Sunday that came to fruition. Phillips played all over the field and he did it very well. Some of his best snaps came playing a hybrid linebacker role. Phillips ended up leading the team in tackles with 9 total, including one tackle for loss. He also had a nice interception at the end of the first half. Watch how he reads Ryan Fitzpatrick’s eyes and makes a great play on the ball.

If this is the type of play the Patriots get from Adrian Phillips all year, the Patriots secondary can be as good as they were last year. Keep in mind, in addition to Phillips and Devin McCourty, the Patriots also used Kyle Dugger, Terrence Brooks, and Joejuan Williams at safety on Sunday. All had varying levels of success. It’s a ridiculously loaded group.

Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels called a great game on Sunday. The Patriots controlled the clock and ran the ball effectively, which ultimately aided them in picking up the victory. The designs on the quarterback runs were impressive. As the season goes on and the Patriots offense picks up more chemistry, we expect even more unique play calls from McDaniels.

One thing that really stood out was the handling of offensive personnel. McDaniels used rookie Michael Onwenu in a big tight end role on a few snaps. We also loved the way he shuffled the running backs in and out, even getting rookie J.J. Taylor some looks. With such a deep and talented running back group, McDaniels has a ton of tools at his exposure. That’s not even accounting for Damien Harris who should be back off injured reserve in a couple of weeks.

Led by a great and creative offensive mind like McDaniels, it will be fascinating to watch the evolution of the Patriots offense as the season progresses.

Chase Winovich

All offseason we wondered if Chase Winovich could become a three-down player. If Week 1 is any indication, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Winovich made several nice plays in the run game. He finished with six total tackles and one tackle for loss. A few of those tackles came early in the game. In the clip below, Winovich spins off the blocker and makes a nice tackle to hold the runner to a short gain.

This is the kind of play we didn’t see from Winovich in his rookie seaosn. Winovich was solely used as a pass rusher in year one. Though he thrived in that role, the Patriots are going to need more from him this season. The fact Winovich is already making the most of his golden opportunity gives us confidence in his ability to make a second-year leap as a three-down player.


Nick Folk

Let’s hope the kicking struggles exhibited Sunday in New England don’t persist throughout the entirety of the season. Nick Folk missed his one and only field-goal attempt (45 yards) after being called up from the practice squad on Saturday. Fortunately for the Patriots, Folk made all three of his extra points.

If Folk’s struggles persist we may see the Patriots look in another direction for a kicker sooner rather than later. Maybe, rookie Justin Rohrwasser gets the next crack at it, or maybe they go a whole different route completely. As we said in training camp, the kicker postion is something to monitor.

Damiere Byrd

Damiere Byrd had a rough start to his Patriots debut. After the Patriots forced a Dolphins punt on the opening drive, Byrd, the return man, muffed the punt. The blame shouldn’t fully be placed on him though, as the Dolphins gunner made a great play by pushing J.C. Jackson into Byrd. Julian Edelman returned the next punt, but Byrd was back out there for the Dolphins third and final punt of the game.

The special teams’ blunder, albeit shared blame, isn’t the only reason Byrd makes this portion of the list. Byrd, unlike another receiver mentioned later, played a lot in Week 1. In fact, Byrd played 56 snaps which was most among wideouts. The only other receiver close to that was N’Keal Harry with 51 snaps. Unfortunately, Byrd ended with zero catches. He’ll get more opportunities to produce as the season goes on, but his absence of production is notable.  

Jakobi Meyers

Much like training camp, Jakobi Meyers had a quiet Week 1. Meyers only played seven snaps on Sunday. Granted the focus of the offense was on the running game, but Meyers currently stands behind Edelman, Harry, and Byrd on the depth chart. He’ll eventually find his way onto the field, but he’ll need to take full advantage of each snap when he does.

Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on the Patriots Week 1 win!

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