Well that sucked.
Not the beating the Jets. No, no, no. That will never suck. But this season as a whole has been a slow car wreck. One that you can’t look away from because you’re a part of it. Each game. Each week. It just got progressively worse and worse.
HOWEVA, we aren’t here to talk about the 2020 season that was, we’re here to talk about the New England Patriots getting the job done at home
in front of thousands of screaming fans in a hollow stadium to close the season with a wildly underwhelming 7-9 record.
What wasn’t underwhelming tonight though, was the performance of Cam Newton. This guy played like he had something to prove (which he certainly did) firing the ball around for 340 yards and 4 total touchdowns. His performance had me, as I’m sure was the same with many Pats fans, yelling at the screen saying “WHERE THE HELL WAS THIS ALL SEASON CAM!”
But I’m not going to be negative today. There will be enough time for that in the offseason and whatnot. Today is for kudos and giving props. And Newton deserves every kudo you can give. From his 49 yard run on the first drive to his mostly on time passes to his RECEIVING touchdown, Superman showed up and did what he had to to win. Was it perfect? No. but #12 isn’t under center anymore so expectations need to be tempered. Cam was a net positive this week and that is to be commended.
I also want to take this time to welcome James White back into the offense. For a guy who has had a season that none of us can even begin to imagine, it was awesome to see him end the season with a performance like this. Was it his best? Not even close. But it was definitely a feel good games for Sweet Feet. And no, I will not be taking questions at this time about if this was White’s last game in a Patriots uniform. That thought is too tough to bear for my fragile mind at the moment.
And I won’t even get upset that the Patriots and Newton waited until the last game of the season to incorporate arguably their best weapon on offense until Week 17. Nope. Not gonna do it. Want to, but won’t.
But I mean..I have to touch on it, right? This game was awesome to watch. For the first time in what seems like an entire year, I got genuine enjoyment out of a New England Patriots game. The team was having fun. I was having fun. Fun for everyone. But I couldn’t help but think in the back of my mind: What the hell took this team this long to figure out how to play coherent football?
In my distraughtness, it grew clear to me why they all of the sudden looked like they could put together a competent gameplan: They were playing the Jets.
OF COURSE they were going to look the best they’ve looked in weeks, it’s the freaking JETS! If they didn’t put on a performance like this, then I would have been (more) worried. This team, for once, beat down a team they were supposed to beat down, and it was lovely. It reminded me of when some OTHER quarterback was under center and this team knew how to “take care of business” as they say.
But no, no, NO. I told myself I wasn’t going to do that. NO NEGATIVITY ALLOWED.
So back on the positive train we go. And speaking of train, Sony Michel’s bandwagon is going to be pretty full after his performance today. Michel ended the season finale with a total of 136 overall yards, one TD and a run that made me jump out of my seat.
Was it really anything special? No. It was a nice hard run that he finished off by looking for contact. That “lower the shoulder and bounce of a defender” at the end was **chefs kiss**. The reason I jumped up was because, regardless of what anyone wants to say, we didn’t see much of that from Michel last season and to start this season. Often times he looked a little to indecisive and would go down too easy. But this run was a nice reminder to everyone of who Sony Michel is. A very good starting RB in this league.
And if he is going to start catching balls out of the backfield? I don’t think you even pick up the phone if teams call for him this offseason. That is, unless James White is coming back. In that case, Michel’s trade value has never been higher. Ugh, I don’t want to talk about the offseason yet, we’ll save that for another time. Here’ his TD catch!
Oh, last thing offensively….THEY ACTUALLY HAVE A TIGHT END ON THE ROSTER!?
I love that catch. Over the shoulder, relatively good coverage, good route. It was amazing. Now if this kid can get a good grasp of the entire offense and develop this offseason, we may have a decent weapon on out hands!
Lastly, with the party that was thrown on offense today, you know who wasn’t invited? A certain 1st round pick who ended the game with 2 catches for 17 yards. But hey, we’re in the bleachers right N’Keal? We can’t criticize you.
Defensively though, they may have been better than they were on offense. Which was a pleasant surprise given this D’s struggle in recent weeks. But hey, sometimes the D just can’t get up when it needs to, it’s not a big deal. It happens to a lot of guys!..I mean..teams. Yeah, teams. Anyway, interceptions!
Are 9 interceptions good? I feel like I have to ask because the local media, and fanbase to some extent, have a weird infatuation with being overly critical of this guy. This is just his third year in the league and he’s shown every single skill you’d want for a future #1 cover corner. But yet the second he has a bad play/game, you people are all over him. Why?
I know he has had a few off games, but you know who else has? EVERY SINGLE CORNER WHO HAS EVER PLAYED IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Let the kid grown and develop. With Gilmore likely gone next year, Jackson is going to jump into that lead DB role and guess what? I think he’ll be fine. Perfect? No. Gilmore level? Potentially. We’ll see. But I for one have seen nothing that makes me hesitant with giving him the mantle of #1 corner next season and seeing how it goes.
Listen, at the end of the day, I know this win was against the Jets. I’ve already said that I understand that, but it’s still nice to see a team come out and play like that when they have nothing to really play for. As a fan, you love to see that. There were plenty of things missing from this team in 2020, but heart wasn’t one of them.
So we’re onto 2021 now, and judging by the noise coming out of Foxboro, the team that takes the field next season will be vastly different than the one we saw this year.
The 2021 season is going to be a wild ride. Possibly even more crazy than this one, if you really think about it. The Patriots have numerous veterans that could retire. Hightower will be back most likely, but Chung and Mason are expected to call it quits (McCourty said that he plans on coming back so that’s good). With young players like Meyers, Harris, Winovich, Uche, Dugger and more at almost every position, it’s going to be extremely vital that they all improve going into next year.
And then of course there’s the elephant in the room: quarterback. Will Newton be back? Is Stidham the answer? Will Belichick go out and sign a veteran stopgap until he figures it out? Or, with the 15th pick in the draft, will they dip into the deep cache of talented QB’s coming out of college? Who knows. But one thing is for sure. This team is going to look very, very different next year.
P.S. Adam Schefter is on Belichick’s shitlist. And I love it.