The Miami Dolphins welcome the New England Patriots to Hard Rock Stadium this afternoon, ending a home-and-home streak that began in week 1 of this season. Now in week 15, the Dolphins are trying to make their way into the AFC playoff picture hold on tight while the Patriots just try to climb back 500 in season How will this game go?
To get a better idea of who the Patriots are now, I turned back to our friend Bernd Buchmasser from Pats Pulpit, SB Nation’s Patriots team site.We talked about the state of the Patriots, the apparent regression by Cam Newton, The Impact of COVID-19 on the Team, The Future of Jarrett Stidham, and Buchmasser discussed the possibility of a tank for the Patriots in 2021
1 Somehow this season feels like it flew by, and yet it feels like it has passed forever since the first week meeting between the Dolphins and Patriots, the Patriots started quickly – themselves in their early losses of the season, they looked like a team ready to fight for the AFC East crown again, however, it doesn’t feel like the same Patriots team now that the end of the season is approaching what they were biggest change for the Patriots between week 1 and now?
For some reason they decided that winning is no longer their thing, so Seriously, I think it’s a combination of different factors
For one thing, the coronavirus outbreak in early October really held up the team’s development – it started the season 2-1 but lost four after Cam Newton was diagnosed as the first patriot for a team that changed later in the year Keeping on building up, this was just the final blow after a shortened off-season and no prep games The ability to have limited practice time over a three-week period was a huge setback in my opinion, especially given the team trying to bring a new quarterback up to speed, and to rely on a number of first year players on his defense
This, in turn, made it easier for teams to adapt to the Patriots.They didn’t evolve as quickly on either side of the ball, which meant it made it easier for opponents to just play against them, as well as the coaching team and the schematic basis from New England too, which, in my opinion, took away a lot of flexibility from them – which is a bad thing for a team that sets up its fixtures week after week specifically for the upcoming opponent from
In retrospect, and given everything that has happened since then, I would say that week one game was basically more of an outlier and proof of potential than a true reflection of that team in 2020
2 With that in mind, Cam Newton looked like the League MVP Cam Newton against the Dolphins in Week 1, but his game has been going down in the last few weeks. Is that age catching up with Newton? Is it effects of COVID?
2020 Cam Newton is not 2015 Cam Newton, but I don’t necessarily think age is the main reason behind this drop in the past 14 weeks.I think once again that it’s not that easy Its time on the coronavirus reserve list and how the subsequent lack of practice time prevented the development of the offense around him, for example, certainly played a role, which may not be the only reason for his comparatively lack of production, especially as a passerby, but it cannot be ignored either added the fact that his most experienced passport catcher, Julian Edelman, had been struggling with a knee injury since week 2 and later had to be taken to an injured reserve – and that the Patriots’ young recipients have not developed as quickly as one hoped would – and you get yourself a recipe for disaster
After all that, Newton still had his moments – so much so that one has to wonder what he would look like on an offensive that a) had better talent at the broad receiver and narrow end positions, and b) more opportunity to to be tailored to its strengths
3 Defending the Patriots is still a top ten unit, giving only 342 at 5 yards per game (10 least in the league), 2185 passes per game (8 in the league) and 215 points per game (7 in the league) They allow 1,240 yards per game on the ground (23 in the league) so there seems to be a possibility of running against New England Is that a fair assessment? How would you attack the Patriots if you were Miami’s offensive coordinator?
New England struggles to defend its runs outside the zone all year round So I would certainly start here – for three reasons:
1) As noted above, the Patriots have not been able to contain an outside zone where teams like the 49ers and the Rams are successfully using them to marginalize a New England defense that is not over the speed of the second level features to include such plays
2) It would neutralize the secondary school of the Patriots Under the leadership of incumbent NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore, the unit is the strength of New England’s defense yet capable of making life difficult against enemy passing attacks
3) A successful run of the ball would potentially also force the offensive Patriots out of their comfort zone. New England wants to lead football as this is where its strengths lie, but the opponent who shortens the game could put more pressure on Cam Newton and practice the passing game
Of course, sooner or later you have to pass football too – that’s just the nature of professional football in 2020. If I were Chan Gailey and had to blow up I would beat the zones below against players like the off-the- Ball linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley, Terez Hall and Anfernee Jennings attack Since Dont’a Hightower is no longer available due to his Covid-19 opt-out and Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins have left the free hand, the Patriots just don’t have it more the sporty impressive linebackers who can manage these zones successfully Getting the ball out of Tua Tagovailoa’s hands into these areas seems like a reasonable battle plan to me
4 Looking to the future, Jarrett Stidham saw some gaming fun, although Bill Belichick appears to be signed to Newton for this year, Has Stidham shown enough to be considered a future for the Patriots, or do you think they are in this one Are off season in the quarterback market?
Based on what we’ve seen, to be in the quarterback market in 2021, Stidham is the only QB signed beyond this season, and if that becomes that, you need to consider the Patriots very much Team does not feel as an undoubtedly future starter – which seems like a track given what we’ve seen of them so far – someone else has to be brought on board either via the draft or the free agency, as well as both ways have to be explored leads to Newton remains to be seen, as he suffered more defeats than defeats at times this year It wouldn’t be surprising if the team showed an interest in keeping him in any case, it would be a surprise if New England jumped into the draft with only Stidham on the squad
Of course we always have to take into account that there is a lot that we haven’t seen from him yes he didn’t win the job in the training cap and he fought whenever he got on the field but we don’t know how he’d look like with the starters with a full week of prep and we don’t know if the team purposely got him out of the way given how the off-season developed.We also don’t know how the Patriots see his progress and potential due to his behind-the-scenes work
Long story short, I see them in the market, even if they feel good about Stidham’s long-term potential
5 And looking to the future, no team has been searched by Lilke New England’s COVID-19 opt-outs, do you expect these players to return to rekindle the team on the way next year, or shall we see how the Patriots enter a cycle of rebuilding and maybe be down for a year or two before moving up the rankings again?
As for the opt-outs, I would expect not all to be back, although I think the aforementioned Dont’a Hightower, and to a lesser extent Patrick Chung’s safety, are realistic candidates to get back on the team next year to come and resume their starting roles, I wouldn’t rely on Marcus Cannon (his successor, rookie Michael Onwenu) to get off to a good start, played at a very high level this year) So where’s the question of rebuilding? I would say it’s complicated
The team still has a lot of work to do to improve their offense in particular, but they have room and capital drafting over the next year to address some important issues Add the fact that there have been some positive signs lately of younger players on the team and that the team has played some close games this year that eventually ended in loss and I don’t think they need a major makeover, on the other hand, the most important position on the team is a question mark towards 2021 if this If not addressed, it is difficult to predict where the Patriots will be in the next season or two
One thing I do know, however, is we won’t see a tank, which just isn’t the culture Bill Belichick has created over the past two decades
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World News – US Patriots Against Dolphins Preview: Cam Newton, Rush Defense, COVID, Jarrett Stidham and a Tank by 2021?