The New England Patriots season of 2020 has been full of “one step forward, two steps back” moments, a trend that intensified last Sunday as the Patriots dropped a crucial road game to the 2-6 Houston Texans after grabbing an impressive 23 -17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens the previous week.
The loss to Houston erased all the positive momentum the team had built up after their upset with Baltimore in heavy rain at Gillette Stadium renewed hopes of an unlikely playoff push.
Now sitting at 4-6, the Patriots find their way to the playoffs impossibly steep, an unknown position for a franchise that has been the NFL’s crown jewel for the past 20 years.
With the post-season hopes almost off, it̵
Find out if Cam Newton is the long-term answer
In order for New England to map its course to 2021 and above, it is necessary to decide who will be captain. The clear No. 1 priority for the Patriots from now until the training camp starts in the summer is to find out if it’s worth bringing back Cam Newton, who signed a one-year deal with the Patriots this summer and will be a free agent when the season ends.
Despite the stories making rounds on Boston radio radio waves, Newton has had a strong debut season in New England, especially considering the lack of offensive talent around him and his COVID diagnosis earlier in the season.
As of week 8, Newton has been one of the most effective quarterbacks in the league per. Rbsdm.com. Newton is 8th in the NFL in Completion Rate Above Expected (CPOE), which is the difference between the actual completion rate and the expected completion rate based on the difficulty of the throw. Newton’s completion rate of 75.2 percent is 5.5 points higher than his expected completion rate of 69.7 percent.
New England are capable of winning a Super Bowl with Newton as the quarterback, but the question it has to decide is whether Newton, 31, fits in with the current trajectory of an aging team embarking on a rebuilding phase .
If the franchise decides it can surround Newton with enough pieces on the offense, and rebuild its team in time to take advantage of what’s left of Newton’s first class, they should look into re-signing Newton this offseason in hopes of coming back to becoming a competitor next year.
But if the team finds out that Newton’s window does not match the franchise’s window, it’s possible the team could turn to Jarrett Stidham in the last couple of games to give him a real shot to show what he can do as. a starting quarterback.
Stidham have yet to get a real, honest chance to show what he can do as a starting quarterback, rather than as a backup coming in to play the second half of blowout games. While New England should draft a quarterback in the 2021 draft no matter what Stidham does for the rest of this season, it makes sense to know for sure what they have in him before investing premium capital in a quarterback in the NFL draft.
New England may not have playoffs to play for, but there is plenty for Newton and this offense to prove the rest of this season.
Determine the return position
Damien Harris has emerged as the team’s workhorse back after coming off the injured reserve against Kansas City earlier this season, and the results have been extremely promising, with Harris rushing 96 times to 514 yards in seven games. Make no mistake about it, Harris is a better backer than Sony Michel, who he took over for when Michel himself went on injured reserve. But for Harris to secure the job in the long run and deter Michel from making a push to regain his role as the team’s early setback, Harris, who already has two stints on IR for two seasons and is currently dealing with chest and ankle injuries , must show that he can stay on the field.
With Rex Burkhead tearing his ACL against Houston, Michel, who was a healthy inactive against Houston, is likely to get a chance to show the coaching staff that he may be the setback they thought was worth spending a first-round draft on back in 2018. If Harris can not stay healthy, Michel could possibly argue that he deserves his fifth-year rookie election to be brought to 2022.
Play the kids
Unleashing the kids on the field has the benefit of helping the team’s young players develop faster and helping the team get a better sense of its long-term prospects depending on how its youth fare when given larger roles.
Players like Kyle Dugger, N’Keal Harry, Joejuan Williams and Chase Winovich are individuals who have seen their playing time vary over the course of the season, but given their positions and youth, it seems to play a significant role in the team’s plans in the next several seasons.
In the case of Harry, who has missed several games due to injury this season, it is now or never to show that he can be more than just a blocking wide receiver running shallow routes near the line of scrimmage. Giving him more playing time can hurt the team’s offensive output, but since the playoffs are no longer a realistic goal, it helps the team know more for sure what they have in Harry.
Dugger has undoubtedly been the team’s top driving defender for the past few weeks, coinciding with a sharp increase in played snaps. With Patrick Chung, who turned 34 in August, and Adrian Phillips a free agent after next year, the team would be wise to hand over the reins to Dugger the rest of the way to see if he can be the team’s next big hybrid safety. So far, the early returns have been promising.
For the team to build towards the future, it must begin to embrace the future now. While there may be short-term growth pains in playing the younger players more, the long-term benefit outweighs the short-term loss. At this point, the team has a bit to lose by doing so.
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