By Matthew Geagan, CBS dangolka
dangolka (CBS) — Right here comes one of the unpredictable seasons for the Patriots in an extended, very long time.
As a result of, actually, we now have no clue what the heck is about to go down in Foxboro. Tom Brady is gone, with Cam Newton taking his place at QB. The large receiver place is a little bit of a multitude — once more. And half of New England’s protection is gone, both by the use of free company or through 2020 decide outs.
And simply to make issues a bit of extra cloudy, the vast majority of gamers haven’t performed an precise soccer recreation since January. This ought to be enjoyable.
At the very least the Patriots nonetheless have Invoice Belichick, who’s going to have his work reduce out for him this season. It looks like individuals imagine the Patriots will both proceed their reign atop the AFC East, or go 5-11. There doesn’t look like a center floor.
However that’s all an extended methods away, and proper now, we’re centered on Week 1 in opposition to the Miami Dolphins. That is our very first take a look at the Newton-led Patriots away from the follow area, the primary time we’ll see gamers ship and take hits since that disappointing night in opposition to the Titans 9 months in the past.
Buckle up, people. That is going to be attention-grabbing.
The Cam Connection
In fact many of the consideration goes to be on Cam Newton. He’s the man now that No. 12 is in Tompa Bay, taking on for Brady below middle and for Pat Patriot with the No. 1 jersey.
It has been a tricky few years for Newton, who has handled a slew of accidents that induced a dip in manufacturing. He performed simply two video games final yr after struggling a Lisfranc harm and 14 video games in 2018. He truly put up some respectable numbers two years in the past — 3,395 passing yards with 24 touchdowns, including one other 488 yards and 4 touchdowns on the bottom — which was spectacular given he was coping with a nagging shoulder harm for a lot of the season.
Newton was a discount discover for the Patriots as a result of no different group needed him this offseason. That ought to be loads of motivation for the quarterback, however that motivation gained’t matter if he’s not wholesome. We’ll get a fairly respectable really feel of the place he’s health-wise this weekend.
In fact, it could assist if he had some receivers to throw to. In the mean time, he has only one bona fide pass-catcher in Julian Edelman, who additionally carries that well being tag with him. With Mohamed Sanu despatched packing final week, N’Keal Harry is No. 2 on the depth chart, adopted by Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers. It’s not a gaggle that screams security web for its quarterback, however that’s what Newton will likely be working with.
Count on Newton to get very acquainted with James White early and infrequently.
Newton Racing Crew
Can Cam nonetheless run? He’s a monster at 6-foot-5, 245 kilos, however 934 profession carries are rather a lot for a now-31-year-old who took a beating over the past decade. He most likely gained’t be the twin risk that he was simply 5 years in the past, when he took residence NFL MVP honors after an obscene season by means of the air (3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns) and on the bottom (635 yards, 10 touchdowns). But when he can nonetheless discover a technique to scamper for 5-6 yards a couple of occasions a recreation, will probably be an enormous enhance to a questionable Patriots offense.
No place noticed as a lot turnover on the New England roster as linebacker. Dont’a Hightower opted out. Jamie Collins is now in Detroit, and Kyle Van Noy will likely be a customer in Week 1.
Now the Patriots will flip to third-year linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley to steer the pack. He performed in 16 video games final season however solely performed 27 p.c of New England’s defensive snaps. He’s about to get a large improve in taking part in time.
He’ll be main a pair of rookies in second-round choose Josh Uche and third-round choice Anfernee Jennings. Each of these children carry a unique skillset to the desk, with Uche a proficient pass-rusher and Jennings a do-it-all run stopper.
All three are going to have rather a lot on their plates all through the season, and all of it begins in Week 1.
Who Will get After Fitzmagic?
Kyle Van Noy will likely be on the customer’s sideline on Sunday. Jamie Collins will likely be in Detroit going through the Bears. Dont’a Hightower will likely be altering diapers.
Gone are 19 of New England’s 47 sacks from final season, and you’ll add three extra to that tally with Danny Shelton additionally now a member of the Lions. So who’s going to get after the Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday?
It’s going to be one thing to observe all season, however Chase Winovich is the likliest of candidates to offer many of the pass-rush for New England. He was spectacular in spurts as a rookie, and is about to get much more taking part in time in his second season.
Per regular, Invoice Belichick will likely be altering it up with completely different appears to be like, so everybody might have an opportunity to get to Fitzpatrick. Don’t be shocked if we see some safeties faux to be linebackers, and get a couple of possibilities to chase after Fitzpatrick. Defensive sort out Adam Butler additionally had six sacks final season, so he’s a candidate to throw him to the bottom on Sunday.
Bonus: Tua Time?
Fitzpatrick is Miami’s starter, however with out the advantage of any preseason video games, Brian Flores could ship his rookie QB out for a sequence or two simply to alter issues up. That would definitely be a a lot completely different search for the Patriots protection.
You’ll be able to watch the Patriots kick off their 2020 season Sunday on WBZ-TV — the house of the New England Patriots! Protection kicks off Sunday at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay. The Patriots and the Dolphins sq. off at 1 p.m., and keep on with WBZ-TV after the sport for Cam Newton’s first postgame press convention on Patriots fifth Quarter!