Quarterback: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer
Sorry Danny Etling, this group already had what it needs. 41 years old, 18 years in the league, 5 Super Bowls, 3 MVP’s; But the only number you need to know is 12. Brady has shown he has plenty left in the tank, and barring any injuries, he will show once again he is the best in the business.
Hoyer, please just stay on the bench.
Brady: 4,497 yards, 36 Touchdowns, 11 Interceptions, 395/618 64%
Runningback: Rex Burkhead, Jeremy Hill, Sony Michel, James White, James Develin
Solid, just solid. There isn’t one name here that jumps off the page but is there ever in New England? Once again, Emporer Belichick will employ his runningback by committee approach and he has plenty of weapons to make it work. Burkhead, Michel, and White can all contribute in the run game as well as the passing game.
Taking Michel in the first round was an interesting move and I believe he will have a key role throughout the season. I don’t believe Belichick takes a runningback that early without the intent of using him in the near future; especially when your Super Bowl window gets shorter each year. Rookie or not, expect Michel to get his touches.
Hill is an interesting player only a few years removed from a fantastic rookie season with the Bengals. While Gillislee never panned out, struggling with short yardage situations, Hill has potential to bring a Blount-esque presence back to the Patriots’ offense.
Burkhead: 684 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 26 receptions 221 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns
Hill: 205 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns
Michel: 462 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns, 21 receptions, 138 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
White: 202 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 42 receptions, 395 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns
Wide Reciever: Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Matthew Slater, Julian Edelman*, Braxton Berrios (IR)
This group leaves something to be desired, but the Patriots have produced with a less attractive lot in the past. Carrying only four true wide receivers is an interesting move with Slater a special teams player and Edelman serving a four-game suspension. It is not surprising to see Kenny Britt and Eric Decker fail to make the squad despite their experience, but many expected preseason standout Riley McCarron or even 6th round rookie Braxton Berrios to hold on to a spot, but that wasn’t the case.
So until Edelman returns to the field, there will be a lot of playing time for Hogan, Dorsett, and Patterson. Hogan is the unquestioned number 1 on the outside, showing great chemistry with Brady last season before being injured and into this preseason. I expect this connection to last throughout the season.
Entering his second season with the team, Phillip Dorsett looks primed to show off the talent that had him drafted in the first round. Despite seeing some snaps last season, Dorsett failed to make much of an impact, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him step into previous role held by Brandin Cooks.
Patterson is an interesting player. Big and fast, he has tools that could make him a dangerous player if he can build chemistry.
Speaking of chemistry, Julian Edelman looks scrappy and shifty in the preseason. Patriots fans everywhere cannot wait to see Brady’s go-to man back on the field. The Patriots missed Edelman’s fire and the edge he brought to the team last year, so Week 5 will bring a welcomed sight back to the field.
Hogan: 63 receptions, 893 yards, 8 touchdowns
Dorsett: 49 receptions, 562 yards, 2 touchdowns
Patterson: 34 receptions, 433 yards, 3 touchdowns
Edelman: 67 receptions, 577 yards, 3 touchdowns
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo (IR)
Similar to the quarterbacks, when you have the best in the league at the top of the position then you are in a good spot. Gronk is coming into the 2018 season with a revised contract littered with performance incentives. There’s no reason Gronkowski cannot be the best in the game once again this season if he is on the field, and with questions at wide receiver, he will get more targets than ever. Expect big things from the big man.
Behind Gronkowski are Allen and Hollister. I think I speak for many Patriots fans when I say that we hope to see more Hollister than Allen. Allen’s strength comes with his run blocking ability which Belichick has always prized with his number 2 tight ends. But it is Hollister’s potential as a receiver that is exciting but we have only seen it in glimpses so far.
Gronkowski: 71 receptions, 1,114 yards, 9 touchdowns
Allen: 8 receptions, 49 yards, 0 touchdowns
Hollister: 12 receptions, 101 yards, 1 touchdowns
Offensive Line: David Andrews, Trent Brown, Marcus Cannon, Joe Thuney, LaAdrian Waddle, Shaq Mason, Ted Karras, Isaiah Wynn (IR), John Ulrick (IR)
Dante Scarnecchia has a lot of depth to work within this group. With longtime left tackle Nate Solder leaving via free agency, for the first time in years the Patriots have questions at the position. It was a great run going from the great Matt Light to Solder, but now the man stepping into the job seems to be massive 360lb. Trent Brown. So far, Brown looks good, and he better be because he is protecting the franchises’ blindside.
David Andrews has been a consistent starter at the center position and Shaq Mason has just been locked up long-term at right guard. Joe Thuney has been up and down at the left guard spot, he’s no Logan Mankins, but he is a fine starter on the team and should hold onto his spot. Karras can fill in along the interior when needed.
Right tackle is a question mark. Marcus Cannon and LaAdrian Waddle have both had their bright spots but have also had dark spots. I’m not sure who will step up and lock down the right side of the line. Waddle played well enough to earn a new contract this year, but Cannon has been on the team a long time. My gut says Cannon is the guy, but only time will tell.
I wish we could have seen what Isaiah Wynn could have contributed but we will have to wait until next year to see what the first round, Georgia product brings to the table.
Check in tomorrow for my breakdown of the defensive side of the ball!