A new era has dawned upon Gillette Stadium. The seats and parking lot are empty, masks are a requirement and, worst of all, New England’s messiah, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., has moved on from the organization. Following his saddening departure, the Patriots’ faithful had low expectations about the upcoming season. After multiple opt outs from key players such as linebacker Dont’a Hightower and strong safety Patrick Chung, many analysts predicted losing seasons for the team. Some were bold enough to claim that the Patriots will be “tanking” for Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2021 draft. However, Bill Belichick always seems to bring the best out of his players. Newcomer Cam Newton has partnered with Brady’s past weapons and has completely revamped the offense. After two weeks, this team might be better than expected:
Cam Newton is legit
When the Patriots signed quarterback Cam Newton to the veteran minimum prior to training camp, I will admit that I had my doubts. He simply hasn’t been at the same caliber since his 2015 campaign, and a mobile quarterback wouldn’t fit well in the Patriots’ system — and I have been proven wrong. The Patriots essentially rebuilt their offense to fit the style of Cam’s dual threat game. Instead of many empty backfield formations that Brady lived off of, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels places Newton in the shotgun formation and runs various read option plays to draw the defensive end off his post. When the read option isn’t successful, Newton just switches to tossing piss missiles across the field. Against the Seahawks in Week 2, Cam seemed extremely comfortable in the pocket and threw for 397 yards. He has restored faith in Pats Nation after his convincing debut.
The defense looks sloppy
The top ranked defense of 2019 has looked atrocious over the first two weeks of the season, especially following its 35–30 loss to Seattle on Sunday Night Football. Some of the poor play is in part due to the opt outs of many key defensive players over the offseason, and many rookies are expected to step into bigger roles. However, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and other returning veterans are being carved up by opposing QBs. Although the defensive line looks strong, the linebackers are losing RBs in pass coverage, which allows for big plays. If the Patriots see a playoff run in the near future, their defense must improve.
Kicking game needs to improve
I miss Stephen Gostkowski. Even though he caused me so much pain over the years, you never truly realize the reliability of an elite kicker. Throughout his career, he was essentially automatic from 25–40 yards and truly was a special team’s backbone. Now, I have no faith in our current kicker, Nick Folk. He had an average year last season, but he has been horrific over the first two weeks. Against the Seahawks, he seemed uncomfortable and shaky on all of his kicks; if he hit that 51-yard field goal, the Patriots would be 2–0. Folk either needs to become more confident in his kicks, or Belichick might need to find a new kicker.
Overall, the start to this Patriots season has been nothing short of promising; their offense is firing on all cylinders and their quality of play is shocking every NFL analyst. A Super Bowl run is most likely out of the question for this team, but a playoff spot is reachable. Hopefully this team doesn’t break my heart this season.