State of the Franchise: The “New” New England Patriots


Photo Via New England Patriots

Robert Kraft, Owner of the New England Patriots

Ezekial Stettler, The Delphi Staff

It has been a most peculiar year for most of the world, and the New England Patriots were not saved from the issues that have arisen.

Their season has been quite the rollercoaster, with them beating a team they were expected to be blown out by, then winning a close game against a playoff contender, then losing another few. From offseason departures to the current roster, fans of the NFL and the Patriots in particular have had their hands full keeping up, but with most everything about the franchise changing every week, it’s best to take a look at some concrete facts, and things that are not likely changing any time soon.

The Quarterback Situation:

Will the Patriots draft a QB? Will they even be high enough in the draft to do so? Is Jarrett Stidham the future of the franchise? These, currently, are unanswerable questions. One concrete fact regarding the future of the New England Patriots is that Cam Newton is not it. Newton was brought in for an incredibly cheap price tag for a former MVP, and Patriots fans went wild, while the rest of the NFL groaned. Now? Patriots fans are groaning while the rest of the NFL is going wild. Considering the team’s history with quarterbacks and some guy named “Tom,” perhaps the expectations for Cam Newton were a bit high? Maybe. But no.

Cam Newton has played 12 games for the Patriots this season, and he has compiled a whopping 2,172 yards in the air, sarcasm intended. In doing this, he has thrown four touchdown passes and nine interceptions. That’s a .5 TD/INT ratio, which is on pace to be his worst since coming into the league in 2011. Well, that is unless you take his two games played last year into consideration, when he threw no touchdown passes and a single interception. 

There is the argument that he was brought in to throw short completions and run the ball as part of a run-first offense. That argument is squashed, however, when you look at his numbers for passing and rushing. Cam Newton has his lowest passer rating and completion percentage when throwing 1-10 yards, with those numbers being 69.4 and 65.8% respectively.

One positive aspect that can be said about the quarterback is that he is deadly efficient in the red zone, attempting to rush 29 times, earning a 1st down 13 times, and scoring 6 on 10 different occasions.

Back to the negatives: on the Patriots team, four receivers have higher yards per attempt (y/a)  than Newton (Edelman 11 y/a, Byrd 11 y/a, Zuber 10.5 y/a, Olzewski 4.6 y/a), three running backs have higher yards per attempt (Michel 5.3 y/a, Harris 5 y/a, Taylor 4.4 y/a), and the third string quarterback, Brian Hoyer, is more efficient running the ball at 8 y/a. Newton sits at 4.2 y/a.

Simply put, Newton is not good anymore.

Special Teams

Jake Bailey (P) and Nick Folk (K) are having incredible seasons. The young punter out of Stanford is averaging 48.8 yards per punt, with a long of 71. Bailey also handles kickoffs, in which he has preformed decently as well. Nicknamed “Nick Folklore” after his several game-winning field goals, the kicker has attempted 21 field goals while nailing 19 of them and scoring 77 points when his extra points are added. On extra points, he’s attempted 23 and has made 21. The greatly improved 13-year veteran has proved solid for his fourth team. Of course, special teams has often been the strongest aspect of the Patriots since Bill Belichick has taken over, so this isn’t a great surprise.

Lightning and Thunder

The two strongest position rooms on the field for the Patriots are the running backs and the secondary.

The running back group has been a bit more than decent this year, with emerging star Damien Harris playing three 100-yard games in his first season as a starter, and is, as of my writing this, ProFootballFocus’s top graded running back in the National Football League. The 2nd and 3rd ranked backs? Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook: The leading rusher in the league and arguably the most complete running back, respectively.

Sony Michel has not been too shabby either, having his greatest game since his rookie season during week 3 against the Las Vegas Raiders, before getting placed on the Injured Reserve. He’s off the injury report now, and is gaining over 5 yards on average whenever he gets the ball.

JJ Taylor, the rather undersized undrafted running back, has had some incredibly explosive runs in his few carries, with some coming in key situations that have provided a spark for the struggling offense. Ivan Fears, the running backs coach, has said that Taylor is “Going to help us in the future”, per Zack Cox on Twitter.

Two tragedies have befallen the Patriots other backs. James White lost his father in a car crash, which his mother thankfully survived, earlier in the season. He missed some time, but is now playing with a full head of steam, and a heavy heart propelling him forwards. We at The Delphi wish the best for the White family as they learn to live with this tragic event.

Rex Burkhead was the Patriots most versatile player on the field, evident by his 274 rushing yards (3rd on the team) and his 3 receiving touchdowns (1st on the team). He suffered a knee injury that will bench him for the rest of the season, unfortunately.

The New England Patriots secondary…. Where to start? Let’s start here: It’s deep. The Cornerback position boasts some of the best in the league, with two #1 corners in Stephon Gilmore (Reigning DPOTY) and JC Jackson (“Mr. Interception” per the New England Patriots social media). Behind them sits Jason McCourty, who had a game winning pass breakup in Superbowl 53, Jonathon Jones, the up and coming speedster, and Joejuan Williams, who has become the team’s choice for shutting down tight ends.

The safety position took a hit in the form of a player opt-out in Patrick Chung, but with Kyle Dugger emerging as the athletic “freak” they drafted him in the second round to be, it’s been overshadowed. Devin McCourty, brother to Jason McCourty, has been consistent as well, and Adrian Phillips has turned out to be a wonderful free agent pickup, proving to be a ball hawk and tackle machine.

Building Blocks for the Future

Damien Harris- Based off of Production

Jarrett Stidham- Based off of Belichick’s praise and refusal to draft other QBs when able

Jakobi Meyers- Based off of Production and Shines of Ability

JC Jackson- Based off of Production

Kyle Dugger- Based off of Athletic Ability to play multiple positions (LB and SS)

Steve Belichick- He’s Bill Belichicks son…