New England Patriots have fans asking what happened in 2020

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Photo Credit: Niko DaSilva

The NFL has not seen the Patriots without a quarterback named “Tom Brady” on their roster in 20 years. Although this allowed for a wider playbook, it did not work for the New England Patriots.

Although on a decline, last year the Patriots managed to grab the third seed in the AFC. With the departure of key players like Tom Brady and Kyle Van Noy and a troublesome quarterback situation, the Patriots had a huge drop off. They went from an elite team to just “mediocre.” What happened?

Off-season

Simply, this will be an offseason that all Patriots fans will remember. Tom Brady would leave the team after 20 years to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with his buddy Rob Gronkowski, who would came out of retirement.

Essentially, the Buccaneers became the retirement home for long-time Patriots.

Additionally, the Patriots would lose linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy to the Detroit Lions and the Miami Dolphins, respectively. The Patriots also lost Phillp Dorsett- an underrated player that became a bright spot in a lackluster 2019 Patriots offense.

So, the Patriots lost some of their best players and their franchise quarterback. What would they do?

Sign Cam Newton.

At the time, it was a great decision made by Bill Belichick. Although the move was made late in the off-season, the Patriots would sign Newton to a one year contract worth $1.75 million. It was a low-risk-high-reward move. Newton had the ability to be a superstar- the NFL has seen that before, and for a low contract. If Newton played poorly, it wouldn’t come at much of a cost other than one bad season. But boy, was that season brutal to watch.

Regular season- the good

In the season opener against Miami, the Patriots looked like an improved team. Despite a lack of weapons for Cam Newton, the Patriots would prevail 21-11. Newton had 155 passing yards along with 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Newton looked physical and elite- the “old” Cam Newton was potentially back.

Week two in Seattle was a fantastic game. Cam Newton seemed like “Super Cam” once again, throwing for nearly 400 yards with one passing touchdown, paired with 47 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns inside the five. 

The team played great- but the play calling by Patriots Offensive Coordinator, Josh McDaniel, at the end of the game was extremely questionable. With time about to expire and the Patriots on the one-yard line, he called the same quarterback run play that the Patriots used to score twice. Some say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but that certainly does not apply here. I don’t care what team you are- if you are on the one yard line with a physical quarterback like Cam Newton, you have him sneak it into the end-zone for the game-winner. Great game, but a terrible way to lose.

The next week the Patriots would play the Raiders, and would take the win. The offense looked good, having 36 points up on the board, and Patriots fans had a long sigh of relief…momentarily.

Regular season- the ugly

Before New England’s game against Kansas City, reports came out that Cam Newton had gotten COVID and would not be able to play in the game. This was the turning point for all Patriots fans, and for the worse. The Patriots would lose the game, 26-10 in which they looked awful. Offense was terrible, the lack of talent in the receiving core was showing, and it seemed like the New England defense was always on the field. A downright bad loss.

Newton would make his return next week against Denver, but he was not the Super Cam that the NFL saw before he contracted COVID. He was throwing the ball in the dirt, away from receivers left,right, up down. It was painful to watch- his receivers were dropping balls, and the tight ends were not producing at all. This combined with the terrible decision making of Josh McDaniels made the rest of the season look as if the Patriots belonged in the NFC East.

For the rest of the season, the Patriots would get some wins that weren’t worth mentioning- against the Jets, Ravens (in terrible playing conditions), Cardinals, and Chargers. Patriots fans were disappointed and had their first losing season since 2000. That’s right. 20 years.

Conclusion 

What did happen to the 2020 Patriots? A mix of bad play calling, lack of production from receivers like N’Keal Harry (who many consider a draft bust), and a bad quarterback led to a bad year for the Patriots. It’s only one bad season- it can’t hurt the franchise that much. It was a weird year for the Patriots- they are not used to losing.

On the bright side for Patriots fans- Deshaun Watson may be traded during the off-season. He’s unhappy with the Texans’ franchise, so there is a sliver of hope that the Patriots have an elite quarterback for the 2021 campaign. Not to mention, they will have a lot of cap space- top five in the NFL. The Patriots will have the money to build a better team, but only time will tell if they will do just that.

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