The New England Patriots, time and time again, continue to be great and the same can be said in 2018. Despite a 1-2 start, New England turned things around quickly, finishing the season at 11-5 and the second seed in the AFC. After squashing the Los Angeles Chargers and having a shootout against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC […]
The New England Patriots, time and time again, continue to be great and the same can be said in 2018. Despite a 1-2 start, New England turned things around quickly, finishing the season at 11-5 and the second seed in the AFC. After squashing the Los Angeles Chargers and having a shootout against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship, they had one more team to beat, the high scoring Los Angeles Rams.
Well, as I said in the LA Rams preview, New England shut them down 13-3, continuing their dynasty.
As far as the offseason, top offensive lineman Trent Brown left for the Oakland Raiders, Malcolm Brown left for the New Orleans Saints, and Cordarrelle Patterson left for the Chicago Bears, to just name a few. In the draft, they used their first-round pick on Arizona State receiver N’Keal Harry while drafting a few others that’ll only help their dynasty continue to be great. In addition, long-time tight end Rob Gronkowski retired from the NFL after nine seasons with the team.
Let’s take a look at the position breakdowns before I get to my season prediction.
- Starter: Tom Brady
- Backups: Jarrett Stidham
- Preseason Cuts: Brian Hoyer
The resume speaks for itself. Multiple Pro Bowl selections, All-Pro, MVPs, Super Bowl titles, you name it. At 42 years old, it really looks like father time is not a factor here. Look for Brady to have another great season as he heads into his 19th season. Stidham was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and has had a really impressive preseason so far.
I think his preseason play earns him the backup role here and maybe an eventual replacement for Brady. Hoyer could stick around as the veteran backup but releasing him could save the Patriots $3 million in cap space.
- Starter: Sony Michel (RB), James Develin (FB)
- Backups: James White, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden
- Preseason Cuts: Rex Burkhead, Nick Brossette, Jakob Johnson
New England uses a lot of running backs in the offense and that same concept will happen again in 2019. Michel had 931 rushing yards and six touchdowns in his rookie year and looks to be the starter heading into 2019. White is one of the better receiving backs in the league while Harris, a third-round pick, will get plenty of looks as the power back. Bolden is a solid Special Teamer and occasional runner for a few snaps. Develin will continue his role as the Pro Bowl fullback.
I have Burkhead on the outside looking in simply because of the numbers. It doesn’t make sense for the team to keep six running backs.
- Starters: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry
- Backups: Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Jakobi Meyers, Phillip Dorsett, Matthew Slater
- Preseason Cuts: Braxton Berrios, Gunner Olszewski, Maurice Harris, Ryan Davis, Damoun Patterson
- PUP: Cameron Meredith
Super Bowl 53 MVP leads the receivers here and is Brady’s favorite target. Rookie Harry will start alongside him and will be a huge factor off the bat for the team. Gordon has been reinstated by the NFL and is expected to play Week 1 and have a huge role as a vertical threat receiver. Thomas had a down 2018 after splitting time between the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans and will look to bounce back in a new system. Dorsett is a speed receiver that gives Brady a consistent target while undrafted rookie Meyers has been impressive in the preseason, so he gets the nod here as the sixth receiver. While Slater is listed as a wide receiver, he only plays Special Teams as he is one of the best Special Teamers in the league.
- Starter: Matt LaCosse
- Backup: Ryan Izzo
- Preseason Cuts: Eric Saubert, Lance Kendricks, Stephen Anderson, Andrew Beck
- Suspended: Benjamin Watson
Losing Gronk to retirement is a huge loss here and it is hard to find a replacement for that. LaCosse is a young tight end that’ll try to fill that void while Izzo will get some looks as well. Watson is the veteran of the group and will likely start once he returns from his four-game suspension.
- Starters: Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon
- Backups: Hjalte Froholdt, Ted Karras, Dan Skipper
- Preseason Cuts: Yodny Cajuste, Cole Croston, James Ferentz, Tyler Gauthier, Martez Ivey, Cedrick Lang, Tyree St. Louis
Wynn missed the entire 2018 season due to a torn ACL but is back and will start at the left tackle spot. Thuney, Andrews, Mason, and Cannon are veterans that’ll complete the line.
Froholdt, Karras, and Skipper are young players that’ll provide depth.
- Starters: Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennel, Deatrich Wise Jr.
- Backups: Danny Shelton, Adam Butler, Chase Winovich, Shilique Calhoun
- Preseason Cuts: Byron Cowart, Keionta Davis, Trent Harris, Ufomba Kamalu, David Perry, Derek Rivers, John Simon, Nick Thurman
Bennett was signed this past offseason and can still provide a solid pass rush. Wise Jr. is a young defensive end that’ll look to have a more expanded role in 2019. Guy and Pennel are veteran defensive tackles that’ll provide a nice solid duo in the middle.
Shelton will be the main backup to rotate in while Butler, Winovich, and Calhoun are young defensive lineman that’ll get plenty of looks in the rotation as well as contributing to the Special Teams department.
- Starters: Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins
- Backups: Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts, Calvin Munson
- Preseason Cuts: Terez Hall, Christian Sam
- Out for the Year: Brandon King
Hightower has been a consistent middle linebacker since 2012 and will look to man the middle of the New England defense. Collins returns to the team after a stint with the Cleveland Browns and Van Noy has been solid during his time in New England.
Bentley and Roberts will provide depth while Munson makes the team now after the team announced King will miss the entire 2019 season after tearing his quadriceps.
- Starters: Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson
- Backups: Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams, Jonathan Jones, Keion Crossen
- Preseason Cuts: Duke Dawson, A.J. Howard, Ken Webster
- Out for the Year: D’Angelo Ross
Gilmore has turned into a star corner once he joined New England and starts at one side. Jackson will look to start opposite of Gilmore. McCourty will play a lot in the nickel formation while second-round pick Williams will get a lot of snaps in certain formations. Jones and Crossen are young corners that’ll mainly contribute on Special Teams.
- Starters: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung
- Backups: Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks, Nate Ebner
- Preseason Cuts: Malik Gant, Obi Melifonwu
The main story here is Chung was indicted on a charge of possession of cocaine just a few days ago. The trial is not until April 2020, so the NFL will likely not suspend him until after the trial takes place. For now, the hard-hitting safety will start at one side. McCourty is a veteran that’ll continue to lock down the other side of the field.
Harmon, Brooks, and Ebner will mainly play Special Teams, especially Ebner, who has excelled in that department.
- Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
- Punter: Jake Bailey
- Long Snapper: Joe Cardona
- Preseason Cuts: None
Longtime punter Ryan Allen was released just a few days ago meaning that fifth-round rookie Bailey will take over the punting duties. Gostkowski and Cardona will look to continue their kicking and long snapping duties respectively.
Whenever you doubt Tom Brady and New England Patriots, they prove you wrong. Even after teams like the Chiefs, for example, seem to come out of nowhere, the dynasty that is New England comes out on top.
I definitely believe that New England will be in the playoffs once again. Brady is still one of the best QB’s in the league and having a solid receiving core in Edelman, Harry, Gordon, and Thomas will only help him. The running back committee is solid here too with Michel being the feature back and White catching passes out of the backfield.
While the defense does not have any household names, it is a solid group. The defensive line has a deep rotation while the linebacking core lead by Hightower has a solid front seven. Gilmore is a great corner that can cover any number one receiver while McCourty and Chung form a nice starting safety duo.
Like it or not, there is no signs of the Patriots dynasty slowing down. They’ll easily win the AFC East division and will likely have a first-round bye. Odds are that’ll they be favorite to make it to the Super Bowl and that could very well be the base but teams like the Chiefs and Chargers, for example, could give them a run for their money.