It is not difficult to believe that a team might have possibly lost its identity when its Quarterback; the epicenter of that team, leaves after almost two decades.
Add to that, the uncertainty of who the replacement for said greatest of all time Quarterback might be. When he is finally slotted in, no one knows if the fit will be about as good as a square peg in a round hole.
However, what happens when that hole seems to change too?
To say the key piece of the coaching staff, Bill Belichick himself, is experienced would be an understatement. Tom Brady may have been his long term relationship, but it is not his only one ever. Now, the Patriots have a very different type of Quarterback, one who uses his legs more, think more ‘QB dash’ than ‘QB sneak.’
Still, ‘he has no weapons’ …I hear many of you cry, (I really do, you guys are loud!) It is not exactly a secret that New England is depleted at the skill position. Cam Newton does not have that one guy at which to throw (apparently.)
However, is it possible to pull the positives from this?
So, the Patriots use everyone, we keep them guessing. Julian Edelman is the number one nominated receiver but (said through clenched teeth) he has had some drops. Even so, opposing teams double team him and such and then leave say, Rex Burkhead open. As a result, he gets three touchdowns in one game! OH MY!
It appears New England’s tight end game is still developing but there has been key blocking on the field and without good blocking there are no holes and without holes there are no runs… you see where I am going with that one.
‘Developing’ can still mean a positive; the Patriots have a guy in his third year who has worked seriously hard in the off season to get better and stronger. They also have rookie tight ends, which the opposition has not really seen yet.
Imagine if they all light it up in just a few weeks time?
That’s not to say this team doesn’t suffer under these weakness too. New England could not shut down the Seattle Seahawks because they are too versatile. If you close down their run game they make a pass and well we won’t discuss the interceptions.
So, although not a bad loss, we came home 1-1.
Ultimately, New England’s defense is missing some of its pegs too. Key players left the fold, as players tend to (and take our hearts with them sometimes!)
Still, is that just more loss of identity?
Hold up a minute…. let’s look at this from another angle. Obviously those holes left have to be filled; insert some young fresh players and also give other players the opportunity to step up… Did I hear someone shout ‘Winovich?’
Joe Thuney showed that he can earn his dollars by being fluid (ahh there it is!) while covering for the beloved David Andrews at center. Now you could argue this created a hole at left guard and you wouldn’t be wrong However, Michael Onwenu stepped in and did a good job.
Hmmm…more fluidity there?
So how about this, Cam Newton commented after the win over the Raiders and I quote following a question from WBZ’s Dan Roche on the different game plans … ‘we have so many different ways to (you know) beat you.’
Only a great Coach like Bill Belichick could turn such a weakness into such a positive. Right now the New England Patriots may be suffering from a little of identity anxiety, lots of guys left, lots of guys missing (opt outs and injuries) plenty of new bodies in the family. Yet, it seems that they may have the capability to keep it fluid and keep them guessing and with a 2-1 start to the season I don’t think that’s an unfair thing to say.
Now sure, you can look at it that the Patriots identity might be inconclusive. After all, it is still early in the season. The Patriots have had an on-the-road loss; there is a harsh schedule ahead, and they have had to work hard. However, maybe that’s a new strength of the team under the guy wearing number 1.
The 2020 New England Patriots have a fluid identity.
So hey, stay fluid and go Patriots!
-Clare L. Cooper is a Special Contributor for Full Press Coverage. Her New England Patriots insight can be found @FPC_Patriots