Patriots Playoff Preview


Photo by Alyssa DePasqua

Patriots warming up before their home opener against the Dolphins.

Alyssa DePasqua, Contributing Writer

As their 2021 regular season concludes and their venture into the playoffs begins, the New England Patriots are as confident and excited as ever. It’s no wonder this team has had outstanding success this season. Led by their star rookie quarterback from Alabama, Mac Jones, they won 10 games, losing 7.

Going into Wildcard Weekend, the Patriots will play the Bills for the third time this season. It should definitely be a great game. The Patriots and the Bills have so much hatred for each other and the games are always played to the full extent. There is never a dull moment in games like these. Players play hard and fans cheer even harder.

Of course, there were other standout players as well, like Matthew Judon, a newly added linebacker, Christian Barmore, rookie defensive tackle from Alabama, and Damien Harris, third-year running back. This season also surfaced a lot of new talent like Rhamondre Stevenson, rookie running back from Oklahoma, and Adrian Phillips, a veteran safety the Patriots acquired from the Chargers in the off season. 

Though the Patriots record doesn’t look so good on paper, Jones was the most successful rookie quarterback to come out of the 2021 NFL Draft, even beating those  who were picked before him. 2021 number one pick Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars went 3-14 and number two pick Zach Wilson and the New York Jets went 4-13. 

Fans should definitely feel comfortable going into the playoffs against the Bills Saturday night with a leader like Jones. He has done a great job keeping his offense in tact and is very good at time management. He can also read defenses really well and has proven that he can even change the play call at the line of scrimmage if he sees something he doesn’t like from the opponent. Head Coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft certainly made the right choice when it came down to picking Jones in the talent pool that was the 2021 quarterback draft class. 

Along with Jones having a successful season, the offense has drastically improved. Last year, the Patriots were mainly a running offense and didn’t pass very often. However, with Jones behind center, that all changed. Though the Patriots started the season off very similar to last year by running it almost every play, the coaches grew confident in Jones’ throwing ability. Receivers like Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne and tight ends like Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry were often targets for these passes. Watching this offense move like clock work at points in the season was very refreshing. 

The defense was equally successful, ranking second in points allowed by a defense in the NFL at 17 points a game, number one being the Buffalo Bills. New talent also resurfaced on the defense as well, especially linebacker Matthew Judon whom the Patriots acquired from the Baltimore Ravens. Judon ended the regular season with a total of 12.5 sacks and 22 tackle assists. Rookie defensive tackle Christian Barmore also had an outstanding first year, ending the regular season with 23 tackle assists and being a constant force on the line of scrimmage. Barmore is always looking to get at the quarterback and always making holes for the linebackers to come through and make a sack. 

In the secondary, both safety Adrian Phillips and cornerback J.C. Jackson were forces to be reckoned with. Jackson had the second most interceptions in the league during the regular season with a total of eight. Phillips only had a total of four interceptions during the regular season, but has consistently blanketed opposing receivers and has made many great plays by batting passes away. Other help on the defense includes veteran linebacker Dont’a Hightower, veteran safety Devin McCourty, acquired cornerback Jalen Mills from the Eagles, and outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy. 

Fans should feel good going into the playoffs. Though there are better teams and the Patriots will be playing on the road throughout the playoffs, I have confidence in this team and can’t wait to continue to watch them put on a show for New England. The comradery that this group of guys has is rare and one that doesn’t come very often to teams in the NFL. Their attitude and confidence makes it hard not to want them to go all the way to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. 

Make sure to tune into the game on Saturday, January 15 at 8:15.