New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

Three Key Players to Watch for the New England Patriots in 2020

It goes without saying that the 2020 season will have a very different look for the New England Patriots. Gone will be #12 Tom Brady, who is now residing in Tampa with the Bucs.

Enter Cam Newton, a player who was an MVP not all that long ago. The team inked him to a one-year deal this past week hoping he can help the young QB’s on the roster.

There are plenty of questions about this team, and it will clearly up to Bill Belichick to get this team motivated to be the winners they have been over the years.

Today we take a look at three players on the Pats roster in 2020 that will be called upon to be key members of the team’s roster.

1. Cam Newton QB

Without question the team did not sign Newton to have him just sit the bench and wear a baseball cap. He will get snaps under center, and while the team is still very high on Jarrett Stidham, Newton is a player who is a game-changer.

Can Cam regain the form of his MVP seasons of years past, or are the injuries just too much to overcome? Easy questions that we might just find out come training camp.

If Newton is even 80 percent of where he was during those huge seasons for the Panthers, the Pats may have the find of the summer.

2. John Simon DL

A very underrated defensive linemen who has been steady for the Pats since joining their franchise in 2018.

Simon had played for the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts before coming to the Patriots.

He had some big splash plays in 2019, as in week six when against the Giants he recorded an interception off a pass from Daniel Jones that was tipped by teammate Stephon Gilmore in the 35-14 win.

In week 7 against the New York Jets, Simon recorded a strip sack on Sam Darnold which was recovered by teammate Kyle Van Noy in the 33-0 win.

Look for more big plays from Simon as he’ll be called upon more in 2020.

3. Stephon Gilmore CB

The nine-year vet may be the best shutdown corners in the game, and with teams looking to take out years of frustrations on the Pats startng in 2020, Gilmore will be called upon to have another huge season.

He was the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the team finished #1 overall in defense, allowing 275.9 yards per game.

Gilmore had two TD’s on interceptions last year, and again this could be a unit that will need to make those types of plays in 2020.

Superman Arrives in Foxboro!

Stid the Kid Has Company

Tom Brady has set an impossibly high barometer in Foxboro, and no one expects the heir-apparent, Jarrett Stidham, to maintain those dizzying heights. Well, that’s the politically correct thing to say but it’s not really true, especially for those who worship at the altar of the Flying Elvis and genuflect whenever Bill Belichick’s name is uttered.

You see, the comparisons will inevitably be made and when Stidham fails to connect on a go-route to an open target, the legions of New England fans who have been spoiled rotten over the past two decades will roll their eyes in disbelief and mutter, “He’s no Brady.”

Naturally, fans from every other part of the country will revel in the Patriots’ misery and bask in the afterglow of a delicious season of schadenfreude. But this all assumes that Jarrett Stidham will fail miserably and as a result, so too will the Patriots.

Unfortunately for those who have waited nearly 20 years for Bill’s Boys to take a nosedive, Jarrett Stidham will not be an abject failure this season. In fact, the likelihood is that he will be much more of a positive influence in the New England offense rather than a negative.

The reason for the rose-colored glasses has everything to do with the man calling the shots – Bill Belichick. Consider for a moment that New England never drafted a quarterback this past April, nor did they immediately latch on to one of the many veteran free agent QB’s who were available.

However, the last remaining big-name, free agent, signal-caller was recently inked to a one-year, incentive-laden deal with New England. Yes, Cam Newton, aka Superman, is coming to town but he is not necessarily a lock to be given the keys to the offense, as many believe this will be an open competition between, he and Jarret Stidham. Newton may be more of an insurance policy if Stidham proves he is not up to the task, as he is still rehabbing from a foot injury that derailed his 2019 campaign.

With Newton added to the Patriots’ quarterback stable, the team now has Stidham, a journeyman quarterback, Brian Hoyer, who is in his third tour of duty in Foxboro, as well as two undrafted rookies in Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith.

Newton could begin the season on the IR if Stidham looks sharp and the former Panther’s foot is not fully recovered. It would appear the two undrafted rookies have little chance of sticking on the roster as a veteran presence is desperately needed considering Stidham only has one year under his belt and a grand total of four passing attempts.

Prior to Newton’s signing, the oddsmakers were dealing the Patriots at +150 to win the division, +1300 to win the conference, and +2800 to win the Super Bowl. But once word broke that Newton had agreed to play in New England this year, the oddsmakers immediately took the Patriots off the board until they could come to grips with the unfolding situation in Foxboro and determine how profound an impact Newton could potentially have on the perennial AFC East champs. When the dust settled and the oddsmakers readjusted, the Patriots are currently being offered at +130 (division), +1200 (conference), and +2500 (Super Bowl).

 

Pats Need to Run to Win

The offensive line is healthy and with center David Andrews making a full recovery after sitting out the entire 2019 season with blood clots in his lungs, the prospects are looking good for providing a clean pocket to whomever (likely, Stidham or Newton) is under center for the Pats this season and for the running backs who need daylight to do their jobs.

However, any chance the Patriots have of maintaining their laudable legacy after 20 years of the GOAT, Tom Brady, pulling the trigger is only enhanced if they focus their playbook on the running game. If opposing defenses have to key on Sony Michele, James White, Rex Burkhead, and/or Damien Harris then it will mean a much cleaner pocket for young Jarrett Stidham, or the former MVP with something to prove, Cam Newton, and provide either with more time to search for open receivers.

Historically, the Patriots have done their best work when their running game is on point and commands a substantial portion of their offensive game plan. Consider for a moment that over the course of Bill Belichick’s 20 seasons in New England, the Patriots averaged a 13-3 record and won the Super Bowl three times in the five years that they boasted a thousand-yard rusher. In the 15 other seasons, New England averaged 11 ½ regular-season wins and, although they won the Super Bowl three times as well, it was over a span three times as long and equals a 20 percent versus a 60 percent championship rate.

Report: QB Cam Newton and Patriots Agree to One-Year Deal

It took some three months, but quarterback Cam Newton has a new football home – and it’s with the six-time Super Bowl Champion Patriots.

Newton and the Pats have agreed to terms on a one-year deal after the quarterback was dumped by the Carolina Panthers, the team that drafted him first overall in 2011, back on March 24th.

It didn’t take long for Newton to become a star in the NFL, as he led Carolina to three straight NFC South titles from 2013-2015, a Super Bowl and four total postseason appearances.

Newton earned the 2015 NFL MVP award and was named to three Pro Bowls during his run in Carolina.

Injuries ended his career with the Cats, as he underwent multiple shoulder surgeries and missed all but two games in 2019 due to a foot injury that ultimately required a procedure.

The Patriots were steadfast in their search for a veteran QB, but also seemed just fine going with 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and 11-year veteran Brian Hoyer atop the depth chart at the QB spot.

The 31-year-old Newton passed the physical and is healthy, with both his shoulder and foot not having any issues according to ESPN.

Patriots Devin and Jason McCourty Says Players are “Nervous” to Return Due to Covid-19

Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty described the possibility of returning to work as nerve-wracking and “scary” due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston reports.

“I think everybody’s nervous, because the norm is that we just go to work — we put in a lot of work, we bond together, we lift, we’re in close quarters. It feels like that’s all being taken away from us, so I don’t know how to react. I don’t know what’s it’s going to be,” Devin McCourty said Sunday night on the “Double Coverage” podcast.

“I love how a lot of players’ attention has been on what’s going on outside of football, and I think we’ll continue to do that. But figuring out football, to me, seems to be the hardest thing right now. We hope, but I don’t know if we’ll figure it out, honestly.”

The twin brothers said players haven’t been informed when they might return, and Jason added that he wouldn’t take part in a group workout at this time.

“For me, there would be no coming together to do any type of practice with teammates, because I just think we can’t dismiss with corona and everything going on,” Jason said on the podcast he shares with Devin. “I’ve been out here in Nashville, and I actually go run at the high school where I think a lot of the 49ers players were doing their team-practice ordeal. They just had a player or two test positive, [according to a NFL Network report].

“It’s kind of scary because something like that, I think it was probably just offense, so they probably had maybe 10 guys out there. When you think about the future, if it’s hard for 10 guys just to get together to do little passing drills or anything of that nature, to think about somewhere between 53 and 90 guys in a training camp, it’s going to be insane. So I don’t know how that’s going to turn out.”

Devin McCourty Says He’s Happy for Tom Brady, Not Surprised by Departure

Devin McCourty was understandably a bit preoccupied as speculation about Tom Brady’s future took over the NFL offseason, Jenna Ciccotelli of the Boston Globe reports.

The Patriots safety was a free agent after spending all 10 seasons of his NFL career in New England. He watched the Patriots pick up the team option on the contract of his twin brother, Jason, but didn’t know if he would be playing alongside him again. McCourty, 33, spent the early offseason focusing on himself.

“I honestly didn’t think twice about Tom Brady’s free agency because I was a free agent,” McCourty told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “That was my main concern, where my family would end up. Would we be back in New England?”

He eventually signed a two-year deal in March, and even after Brady announced that “his football journey would continue elsewhere” and signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McCourty was appreciative of his time with Brady, but ready to move on.

“When I signed my deal and I was back, you kind of think of all the guys. Tom, the Kyle Van Noys, the Jamie Collinses,” he said. “All of those guys you had relationships with, Matthew Slater. That you kinda know, man, this could be it. That coulda been the last game I played with these guys. When he made a decision, to me, it wasn’t like the end of the world.

“He’s a free agent and when free agency hits, there’s always a chance a guy could go to another team. I’m happy for him,” he continued.

“He played 20 years for one organization. The knowledge he’s passed down. How open he has always been with guys learning from him, asking him questions. Always so open. Great teammate. You become a free agent, that’s what our league is about. That’s what players before us have fought for. Be a free agent and choose. I was happy for him if he did what makes him happy.”

Was LB Clay Matthews Close to Joining the Patriots Prior to the Draft?

The Patriots reportedly considered signing linebacker Clay Matthews before selecting linebacker Josh Uche 60th overall in the 2020 Draft, Christopher Smith of Masslive reports.

Fowler wrote, “There was some leaguewide buzz that the Patriots considered signing free agent Clay Matthews for pass-rushing help, but that was before they landed outside linebacker Josh Uche out of Michigan.”

Matthews, who turned 34 on Thursday, spent his first 10 seasons with Green Bay before playing for the Rams in 2019.

Patriots Ink Third-Round Draft Choice TE Dalton Keene

Whenever football starts back up, Dalton Keene will be in the fold for the Patriots. The third-round pick became the latest New England draft pick to sign, Matt Vautour of Masslive reports.

ESPN’s Field Yates reported the tight end from Virginia Tech’s signing and tweeted:

“The Patriots and third-round TE Dalton Keene have agreed to terms on his rookie contract, per source. That leaves just top pick S Kyle Dugger to sign from their 10-man draft class.”

Patriots with Five Prime Time Games as 2020 Schedule is Released

The Patriots may no longer have Tom Brady as their quarterback, but they do still have national appeal, as the team will have five prime time games in 2020.

The team’s complete slate was released on Thursday night, and the opener will be at home against the Dolphins, the team that knocked them out of a first-round bye last December.

Here is the complete 16-game regular season schedule:

Week 1: vs. MIA (Sunday, Sept. 13 @ 1 p.m. ET)
Week 2: @ SEA (Monday, Sept. 20 @ 8:20 p.m. ET)
Week 3: vs. Las Vegas (Sunday, Sept. 27 @ 1 p.m. ET)
Week 4: @ KC (Sunday, Oct. 4 @ 4:25 p.m. ET)
Week 5: vs. DEN (Sunday Oct. 11 @ 1 p.m. ET)
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: vs. SF (Sunday, Oct. 25 @ 4:25 p.m. ET)
Week 8: @ BUF (Sunday, Nov. 1 @ 1 p.m. ET)
Week 9: @ NYJ (Monday, Nov. 9 @ 8:15 p.m. ET)
Week 10: vs. BAL (Sunday, Nov. 15 @ 8:20 p.m. ET)
Week 11: @ HOU (Sunday, Nov. 22 @ 1 p.m. ET)
Week 12: vs. ARI (Sunday, Nov. 29 @ 1 p.m. ET)
Week 13: @ LAC (Sunday, Dec. 6 @ 4:25 p.m. ET)
Week 14: @ LAR (Thursday, Dec. 10 @ 8:20 p.m. ET)
Week 15: @ MIA (Sunday, Dec. 20 @ 1 p.m. ET)
Week 16: vs. BUF (Monday, Dec. 28 @ 8:15 p.m. ET)
Week 17: vs. NYJ (Sunday, Jan. 3 @ 1 p.m. ET)