Hello, Smash fans. I hope you all are having a great day so far. In today’s articles, I wanted to talk about the Patriots. A team that has definitely had the most active offseason of this year and the last few years. A team that seems to have sold out to the fact they believe Bill Belichick can propel this team to the Super Bowl with a high power defense and an offense that takes care of the ball and can score touchdowns in the red zone. So today I wanted to analyze their signings, how I believe their team’s current construction will work, and if I believe they have a realistic chance of making the playoffs and even the Super Bowl.
Ok, so who did the Patriots actually sign this year? Well as of the writing of this article they have signed tight end Hunter Henry, pass-rushing linebacker Matthew Judon, wide receiver Nelson Agholor, tight end Jonnu Smith, safety Jalen Mills, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, tackle Davon Godchaux, defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr, defensive tackle Henry Anderson, center Ted Karras, defensive tackle Carl Davis, special teamer Justin Bethel, and quarterback Cam Newton. All and all, the Patriots spent over 135 million dollars of guaranteed money on these players. Now, this begs the question: why did they do this? To answer this question we have to first look at what the Patriots did last year.
The Patriots started 2 and 1 with the real possibility of being 3 and 0 if Cam Newton doesn’t fumble the ball as the Patriots are driving in the 4th quarter. Additionally, in all of these games, the Patriots scored over 20 pions and in two of those 3 games, they scored at least 30 points. Then Cam Newton gets Covid and when he came back they finished the season 5-7 with Cam being benched multiple times the team only scored at least 30 points two more times and scored 20 points or less in 6 games, 2 of which they scored under 10. Looking back, I see 4 reasons for this.
First off, I do not believe that Cam was honest about the effects that Covid had on him. It felt like we were watching a completely different person post-Covid. Secondly, Cam Newton was not able to fully familiarize himself with the playbook before the season started and that forced the Patriots to limit the offense. We have to remember Cam Newton was signed to the Patriots on June 29th, the season started on September 10th. This means that Cam had less than 2 and a half months to familiarize himself with a playbook that has been notorious for its nuance and complexity. No wonder Cam had such a hard time as the season wore on. Thirdly, the Patriots had no outside receiving threat, so teams would just play up on the Patriots and force the Patriot’s wide receivers to beat them over the top. Finally, the Patriots had no big reliable targets in the red zone like in years past and that hurt them as the season progressed.
Now that we have this context, it makes sense why the Patriots made a lot of the moves they made. The Patriots needed wide receiver help so they got a decent number two in Nelson Agholor and a good 3rd option in Kendrick Bourne. They needed help in the red zone, so they got not one but two quality tight ends who are both decent run blockers and pass catchers. Cam didn’t get a fair shake so they signed him back. All of these needs were extremely apparent, so they addressed them. Then they needed to fix their run defense as it was in the bottom 3rd of the league so they signed 5 different run-support players. Finally, they were able to grab a quality safety in Sam Mills on a really good deal with an average of $6 million a year with the guaranteed money dropping all the way to an average of $2.25 million a year.
These were all smart deals done out of necessity. Did they overpay for a few players? Most likely. However, if they did not overpay, they probably wouldn’t have gotten those players, and they were all players who play positions The Patriots need. Additionally, a lot of the contracts have a lot of money non-guaranteed, so it gives wiggle room for restructures and trading. On top of all the moves I just mentioned, both Patrick Chung and Dont'a Hightower are coming back after opting out of the 2020-2021 season.
Now that we know both the signings that they made as well as the context for those signings, let’s talk about the future. Let’s talk about next season. So last season the Patriots were 7 and 9 and they definitely got better, but by how much? I would argue by a pretty large amount. All of the signings they made plus the fact that they are getting a more informed Cam and two of their best defenders back, I believe that this team will be able to reach a record of 10 and 6. Additionally, I believe they are a dark horse contender. Of course, the Chiefs are the Clear-cut favorite, however, after that, I would put the Bills then the Ravens, and then the Patriots. We have seen less talented teams win. The 2008 Giants weren’t that talented; they had an outstanding defensive line and a good quarterback but other than that, there wasn’t much extraordinary about that team. And not only did that team win the Super Bowl, they beat a team that would have gone down as the greatest NFL roster of all time if they had won. So I believe that if Cam can play turnover-free and good situational football this team has a real chance of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the 2021-2022 season.
Thank you Smash Fans for reading until the end. If you want to talk about this topic or any other topic sports-related, please email or text me using the information on the contact page. If you want to support me even more, please consider subscribing to my blog and youtube channel as well as following my Spotify for weekly podcasts and articles. Until next time, PD Smash signing off.