The book on the 2020 Patriots season is officially closed.
New England ended its season with a 28-14 win over the Jets at Gillette Stadium Sunday afternoon. It ended the year with one of its most exciting halves of the season with snow falling at times, which created a nice environment.
Cam Newton had four total touchdowns — three passing, one receiving — and finished 21-of-30 for 242 yards, while adding a team-high 79 yards on 11 carries. The quarterback seemed in control of the game and looked the most comfortable we’ve seen in weeks.
Give credit to the coaching staff and leaders of the team for getting the group to play hard all year, especially the final few meaningless games.
Here are 10 quick observations from the game.
1. Newton didn’t show anything that we haven’t seen all year. The Patriots quarterback was inconsistent with some good plays, but also had some bad ones as well. There were several instances where he did not throw to the open receiver or made the wrong choice between running and throwing. While the Patriots have not shut the door on a possible return in 2021, it would be a surprise considering it’s clear the team can get better play at the position.
2. The Patriots called another trick play by the end zone, as Jakobi Meyers threw to Newton for an easy touchdown in the third quarter. It was the second time Meyers has thrown a touchdown pass this season as he did earlier in the year on a similar play to Rex Burkhead. Meyers finishes the season with two fewer home touchdown passes than Newton.
3. Defensively, it was a good effort that got contributions across the board. Chase Winovich was the biggest standout as he played very well, finishing with two sacks to finish with 5.5 on the year and was very disruptive on a number of stunt plays. This will be a big offseason for him to see if he puts on any weight to be a three-down player, as right now it doesn't appear like he's big enough. The unit also picked Sam Darnold off twice.
4. Sony Michel had another solid game finishing with 76 yards on 16 carries, while adding 60 receiving yards and a touchdown. It was the first receiving touchdown of his career and he's running as hard as he has in his three years in the league. Perhaps the emergence of Damien Harris has pushed Michel to be even better.
5. JC Jackson had another interception, his ninth of the year, which puts in second place in the league behind Xavien Howard (10). It was also his 11th takeaway, which is second-most in team history for a single season. He’s a restricted free agent this offseason, similar to Malcolm Butler a few years back where the Patriots just allowed him to play it out.
6. After Adrian Phillips went down with a hip injury early in the game, Kyle Dugger saw a lot of reps playing virtually a middle linebackers role. The rookie has played a variety of roles for the defense this season and really seems to have a bright future ahead of him.
7. James White finished the game with four receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn’t his best season. It would not be a surprise if what’s happened to him off the field has had some impact with his play on the field. It isn’t just his production that’s been down, his blitz pickup was not the same as well.
8. Undrafted rookie cornerback Myles Bryant made a few plays during the second half of the season in a spot role, but was exposed when he got more playing time Sunday. On the Jets’ touchdown drive in the first half he missed a tackle in space, didn’t attack the ball on a sideline throw which resulted in a Jets reception instead of an interception and then committed a hit on a defenseless receiver penalty on the touchdown.
9. Rookie wide out N’Keal Harry finished with two catches for 17 yards. In a game where the offense seemed to get a lot of people involved, it’s disappointing Harry couldn’t do much and build any momentum going into 2021. Meanwhile, Devin Asiasi recorded his first catch and touchdown in the game — a good sign heading into his second NFL season.
10. The attention now officially shifts towards 2021 where the team needs to really have a big offseason. It will have the third-most cap space in the NFL and a draft pick in the first half of the first round. There are clearly plenty of holes on the roster, most notably quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, defensive line and linebacker — all of which need to be addressed before the start of next season.
Newton’s 49-yard run in the first quarter was the longest run by a Patriots quarterback in team history.