While the entirety of 2020 has different for everyone, the New England Patriots have had to deal with some extra changes. After two decades with Tom Brady under center, the veteran quarterback headed south to Tampa; Cam Newton took his place. Since then, on-field results have suffered, too, with the usually dominant Patriots falling to 2-4.
Ahead of a difficult meeting with the Buffalo Bills, however, the New England Patriots just received $65 million worth of bad news. Stephon Gilmore is the latest addition to the club’s lengthy injury report.
2020 hasn’t been easy for the New England Patriots
For the past two decades, the New England Patriots seemed like an unstoppable force; no matter what happened, Bill Belichick was able to solve any problem and keep the team on track. The 2020 campaign, however, has been a bit different.
When the season kicked off, though, things looked pretty good. Cam Newton played well in a Week 1 victory over the Miami Dolphins; although the Patriots fell to the Seahawks in Week 2, they came within a few yards of victory. After a comfortable win over the Raiders, New England seemed to be conducting business as usual.
Since then, however, things have started to crumble. In Week 4, the Patriots hit the field without Cam Newton; they probably played well enough to beat the Chiefs, but Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham both faltered at the key moments. The club followed that up with two more defeats, falling to 2-4.
Perhaps most strikingly, the Patriots just don’t look that good. Particularly on offense, the team seems short on both talent and ideas.
Stephon Gilmore gives the New England Patriots a new $65 million problem
Whether it’s due to the lack of a preseason or simple bad luck, the 2020 NFL campaign has been blighted by some unfortunate injuries. The New England Patriots have experienced that unfortunate reality more than most.
While the club has been playing with a patchwork offensive line all season, things have gotten worse ahead of Week 8’s date with the Buffalo Bills. Julian Edelman had knee surgery, ruling him out for this weekend; there’s no definitive timetable for his return yet, landing on injured reserve means that he’ll miss at least a few weeks of action. N’Keal Harry won’t be taking the field either, due to a concussion.
Late on Saturday night, the Patriots suffered another $65 million blow. As explained by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Stephon Gilmore collided with a teammate during Thursday’s practice; he sat out on Friday before officially being downgraded to “out.”
Stephon Gilmore’s injury will only exacerbate Bill Belichick’s problems
On a more cynical level, you could argue that Stephon Gilmore’s absence isn’t a major issue; the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year hasn’t been at his $65 million best this season. With that being said, though, his absence will only make the Patriots’ problems even worse.
This season, we’ve seen Bill Belichick’s personnel decisions come home to roost. While the coach always seemed to have the magic touch and ability to pluck the perfect player from the practice squad to slot into the lineup, things haven’t exactly worked in 2020. On the whole, the Patriots have a lack of depth and talent.
When Rob Gronkowski retired (and eventually headed to Tampa), the Patriots didn’t properly replace him. With Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry (both of whom have struggled this season) injured, Cam Newton will be throwing to Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, and Gunner Olszewski; that corps won’t exactly terrify opposing defenses.
Even if Stephon Gilmore isn’t his old self, he’ll be another veteran presence taken out of the Patriots lineup. Facing a talented Buffalo Bills offense, that’s far from the ideal scenario.
As the old cliche says, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” In 2020, it seems like the New England Patriots are finally falling and falling hard.