2020 Pats: Prediction Poll

How many games will the Patriots win this season?


  • Total voters
    219
  • Poll closed .

Soxy

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A lot of pessimism around this group, both locally and nationally. I am more bullish than others, for a few reasons.
  • Cam could be an overall upgrade from 2019 Brady
  • Knock on effects from having Cam as QB will help the running game
  • Secondary is still elite
  • O-line has potential to be elite
  • AFC East is still weak
  • They have potential answers on the roster for all of their front seven questions
  • Schedule looks tough, but good luck forecasting how any of these NFL teams will look 2+ months from now (needless to say, I don't put a ton of weight on projected strength of schedule beyond the first few weeks; and that's more complicated this year because of the fan situation)
The way I see it, the two biggest question marks are the front seven and the passing game. Admittedly, those are fairly large question marks to have going into a season. They may never solve those issues and the team could crash and burn to a sub-.500 record, but I think the potential upside if things break right also exists.

We're starting to see a trend towards offenses getting bigger and moving away from an excess of 3+ WR sets. I think it was Warren Sharp who pointed out that NFL plays run out of 21 personnel (two backs + one TE) were more efficient than any other formation last season. This offense is going to look a whole lot different than recent vintages, but it's not like the offense looked good down the stretch last year. They were terrible.

Put me down for 10-6 and AFC East champs, again. Maybe I'm just being a homer (I'm also a Cam stan), but I don't think betting against Belichick and his coaching staff is a wise thing to do. Not during a season where coaching, preparation, and organization may matter more than ever. They might never get the passing game going, the front seven could get gashed constantly, and we don't know if they'll be able to get a consistent pass rush. If all of that happens, maybe they stumble to a 6-10 record. That is absolutely a realistic possibility.

I just feel that there are legitimate pieces in place for this to be a very good football team. So many of them are unknowns that it's difficult to firmly plant a flag on one side or the other, but I'll bet on talent (Cam, O-line, RB, defense) and coaching (duh) and say that they figure it out somehow.

If they hadn't gotten Cam, then I would be right there with y'all saying they'll miss the playoffs. He's capable of being that good. The man dragged a receiving corps of Ted Ginn, Jerricho Cotchery, and Philly Brown to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl. Playing with a bunch of nobodies at receiver should come naturally to Cam, because he's been doing it for most of his career.
 

JohnnyK

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I voted 7 to 9, solely based on their strengths like the secondary and the coaching staff.

There is a good chance Cam has lingering effects from his injuries and is just not that good anymore, and the offensive skill positions are full of question marks. Linebackers are a potential problem with all the new faces as well.
 

Salem's Lot

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If Cam is healthy all year they have the best QB in the division. My prediction is an epic Monday night game between New England and Buffalo that essentially decides the division in week 16.
 

54thMA

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I voted 10-12, I'm bullish on Cam and Belichick, both out to prove people wrong, Cam that he is done, Bill that Brady was the reason for their success.

The man can flat out coach and I am thrilled to have Cam on this team, I love his attitude, his personality and just him as a human being, here's hoping he has a monster year.

I also believe in Josh as a coach and I think he is going to show a lot of new wrinkles with Cam as his QB very excited to see what the three of them come up with.

Patriots fan for life, they are my team through think and thin, they've brought me a lifetime of joy and happiness.

They won the Super Bowl about two weeks before my Dad died in 2017 and I will always be grateful for them for giving he and I one last sports victory to celebrate, I looked up to the heavens when they beat the Rams, it wasn't the same without him here, but I know he had a front row seat up in heaven for it.

Love you Dad......................
 

Soxy

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I just realized I borked the poll options. Should say "4-6 wins" and "3 or less" as options.

Oops.
 

Soxy

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I can add them as additional options but I don't seem to be able to delete the erroneous options.

Tough but fair. I should have to live with my shame.
 

Captaincoop

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I voted 7-9 though I think 10-12 is possible if everything breaks their way. The team is better than people think but the schedule, both in terms of SoS and travel, is brutal.
A lot of people have mentioned the travel. Is there data to demonstrate that it's likely to impact a team, or is just being assumed?

Team charters are comfortable, Ive been on many. I don't think it's the grind some folks are imagining.
 

heavyde050

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I voted 7-9, with my actual pick being 7 or 8 wins with an outside shot at 9 wins.
Coaching this team to 8 or 9 wins would be one of the best coaching jobs I have seen from BB.
I am still not sold on Cam being an amazing upgrade. I mean he was really good in 2018 (still not as good as Brady) and had a phenomenal 2015 (was the clear MVP), but a majority of the rest of his career he was a good fantasy QB, not as good an actual QB.
I guess we will see.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/N/NewtCa00.htm
 

Super Nomario

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I love Cam but the receiving weapons are still really bad. I expect they'll run the ball better ... will they run the ball at a level that lets them deploy a run-first offense in a pass-happy era? I doubt it. Cam gives them a better shot of that than Brady did, but I'm still skeptical of the bullyball approach.

The D is interesting. They finished as the best D in the league last year, but over the back half of the season they were playing more like they did in 2018, when they finished 7th in points allowed and 11th in yards allowed per drive. It was basically the same D as 2018, minus Trey Flowers and plus Jamie Collins. Now Collins, Van Noy, and Hightower are gone in favor of a bunch of unproven guys, basically. I think the D is going to be inconsistent. We saw them struggle in stretches late in the year, and they had a really easy run of bad NFC East teams, catching teams early that were much better late, and backup QBs in the first half of the season. I think they're going to be inconsistent on both sides of the ball week to week and struggle against good teams. I'm expecting 8 or 9 wins.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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7-9. Defense, outside the secondary, is suspect and much closer even in optimum circumstances (i.e. had they run back the same players again) to the D we saw second half than the one setting records in the first half. I think the line will be fine, but the LB corps is decimated.

Offense they have a very solid line (sorry, it's not elite), a hope and a prayer on Cam and....a whole bunch of variables or nothing to speak of. Terrible WRs/TEs, leads to stacking he box and these backs aren't good enough for that. The WR corp has no one that an opposing team should feel the need to double. I'm on the Cam train but he has no one to throw to and he's going to take a licking if he sits all day facing seven guys in the box stopping an unspectacular RB group.

Add in all the other variables, the entirety of the division looking to have improved and yeah, 7-9, both in wins and record. If they make the playoffs or win 10 games, BB should take a bow.
 

MuppetAsteriskTalk

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I voted 6-8 because I didn't read the choices carefully enough. 7-9 more accurately represents my opinion as I'm thinking 8 wins, with +/- a couple in either direction possible.
 

SMU_Sox

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Rookie TEs and no WRs with a new QB and a ton of turnover on defense?

I love the OL, the secondary, and the fit of many of the rookie contract guys minus Sony (who is just a shadow of his UGA self) and Harry who I’ll believe he actually is something when I see it.

I think Harris is going to impress by EOS.

Could this be another 2010 or do we finally see him go under .500? I was toying with 7-9 or 6-8. I think they go 6-10 or 7-9 with both units struggling to start the year and a strong finish that won’t be reflected in picking high (for them) in the draft. 8-8 is another likely outcome but I don’t have the offensive optimism that they can be better than 9-7.

I can see a path to 9-7 or better but it would involve Asiasi playing like the beast he is, Jules staying healthy, one of the bell-cow RBs actually creating and not just barely taking what the line gives him, and one of the receivers stepping up. The team gets on the same page quickly. The rookie contract defenders in the front seven step up (I have some questions about the run defense) and the secondary stays sharp.

I think we feel good about the team next year but this season is a bitter pill to swallow.
 

streeter88

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I originally voted 6-8 wins with a bias toward the lower end, because as with many posters above I am unconvinced by Cam and the WR / TE corps and concerned about the tough, travel-heavy schedule. I wasn’t as worried about the defense as some due to the secondary, the new LBs and Joejuan as a replacement for Chung.

Soxy’s post convinced me to be more optimistic, which to be honest is really needed here in full lockdown in Melbourne Australia - not like to be let out for 6 more weeks on top of 6 already served.
 

Section30

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I voted 10-12. I think a more run oriented offense that gives a mobile QB more options.Plus BB's preparation will make a difference early in the season.
 

snowmanny

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I voted 10-12 but I think the most likely outcomes are 9,10, 8, 11 in that order. Coaching, culture, and QB talent can overcome a lot. I don't think they lose more than they win.
 

mostman

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These are well picked ranges. I’m 9 or 10 wins, so right between those two options. In a vacuum, I might say 10. But given the actual schedule they have, 10 is going to be very hard.
 
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Yeah, I find the optimism on this thread surprising. I hope I'm wrong and most here are right, but this roster is super iffy, the depth is thin, the weapons at TE/WR are suspect and the schedule is a bitch. If they get to 10 wins, hand BB the award-soon-to-be-named-after-him.
 

SMU_Sox

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One last thought before the weekend... I do think the defense can and will be a top flight unit. I think if there is a reason for optimism it's that we have guys like Wino, Uche, Jennings, Dugger, Wise, Rivers, Cowart, JJW, on defense who look like they are going in the right direction this year and could make some big contributions. Very excited to see who makes instant contributions and big jumps!

Offensively I feel that way about Wynn, Asiasi, Harris, Onwenu, Froholdt, Herron, Eluemunor, JJ (Jakob Johnson), and Keene (in/by year 2 so 2021). I think Izzo might actually have a year 2 (not counting red-shirt year 1 technically) where he actually lives up to his billing of being a good blocking TE. Oh and Cam. I can't wait to see how much new stuff they implement like HT: Mark Schofield wide zone concepts and designed QB runs. It's just hard to win without a good receiving corps (including TEs) and they have a ton of uncertainty there. But there is plenty to be excited about as well as nervous/concerned. Let's win some rock fights (HT SuperNomario)!
 

Saints Rest

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I voted 10-12 but I think the most likely outcomes are 9,10, 8, 11 in that order. Coaching, culture, and QB talent can overcome a lot. I don't think they lose more than they win.
I think snowmanny most reflects my feelings/opinions. I think that coaching and continuity may help them head into KC at 3-0 (2-1 at worst). I think there will be a bit of a rut from the KC game thru the HOU game where they go 3-4 at best. Then they right the ship for the back end of the schedule, going 5-1 over those last 6 games. The hot run heading into the playoffs will give them the label of "Team No One Wants to Face in Playoffs." A win in the first round of playoffs will be followed by a loss in the Divisional Round.
 

EL Jeffe

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I went with 6-8 wins. I'm probably in the minority where I worry more about the defense than the offense. I think the offense will be fine; this group of weapons is more or less in line with what Cam has had his whole career. McCaffrey is obviously excellent and Olsen has always been an above average TE, but Carolina's WRs generally have been JAGs (with exceptions here and there). I think McDaniels (and Fisch) will have a scheme that works. If Cam is right physically (and all signs are that he is), that dude is a Top 10 QB.

Defensively, I just don't see how you lose KVN, Collins, Hightower, Chung, and Shelton and not drop off. The 2019 defense looked human the 2nd half of the year after an historically great 1st half against an historically soft schedule. I really (REALLY) love Uche and I think Dugger will be a dude, but I'm not sure what to expect from them as rookies. Who knows what's going on with Beau Allen or if he'll even amount to anything if/when he gets back. There's no massive 330# space eater in the middle of the defense, and I can't remember when that was last the case. Guy is very good against the run and maybe Cowart will be, but there's a chance they get gashed there which leads to all sorts of issues.

I'm definitely optimistic moving forward in 2021 and beyond; I just don't have high expectations this season. Which might be kind of nice for a change.
 

cornwalls@6

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9-7. If Cam is fully healthy, and can bring his unique playmaking ability to the table, that can hopefully mitigate the poor receiving group to some degree. A lot of questions about the front 7, but the secondary is elite. Coach em up, run the ball, defend against the pass, hold their own against the run, be solid on special teams. Not a contender for the AFC, IMO, but if everything goes as well as possible, definite wild card team. And maybe AFC east, if Buffalo fails to make the leap forward some are predicting.
 

Harry Hooper

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Edelman is apparently already nicked up. Feels like 8-8 when it's all said and done. Nine wins might take the division.
 

Soxy

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See, all you need to do is combine @SMU_Sox's take on the defense with @EL Jeffe's take on the offense, and you get to double digit wins and a playoff spot! :)

It really does feel like this team will go as far as their young players take them. If enough of them become key cogs quickly, they've got a shot. If the growing pains are frequent and painful, that's probably how they stumble to a losing record.

With Cam and Belichick's proven ability to make the sum of the whole greater than its individual parts, I'm betting that they find a way to pull it together. Should be a fun, exciting season either way! Definitely gonna be a weird one.
 

Super Nomario

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I went with 6-8 wins. I'm probably in the minority where I worry more about the defense than the offense. I think the offense will be fine; this group of weapons is more or less in line with what Cam has had his whole career. McCaffrey is obviously excellent and Olsen has always been an above average TE, but Carolina's WRs generally have been JAGs (with exceptions here and there). I think McDaniels (and Fisch) will have a scheme that works. If Cam is right physically (and all signs are that he is), that dude is a Top 10 QB.
I'm on the same page with Cam, but going from Olsen to this trio is a gargantuan dropoff. We've seen Pats teams over the last decade compensate for suspect (or worse) receiving corps by targeting the tight ends more; we also saw how limited that approach was last year when the tight ends weren't there. Cam is a unique weapon, but history suggests he's just as susceptible to varying performance based on the quality of his supporting cast as any other quarterback. And I have a lot of concerns with this supporting cast.

Defensively, I just don't see how you lose KVN, Collins, Hightower, Chung, and Shelton and not drop off. The 2019 defense looked human the 2nd half of the year after an historically great 1st half against an historically soft schedule. I really (REALLY) love Uche and I think Dugger will be a dude, but I'm not sure what to expect from them as rookies. Who knows what's going on with Beau Allen or if he'll even amount to anything if/when he gets back. There's no massive 330# space eater in the middle of the defense, and I can't remember when that was last the case. Guy is very good against the run and maybe Cowart will be, but there's a chance they get gashed there which leads to all sorts of issues.
Probably 2013, when Wilfork got hurt and only played four games and they were running out Chris Jones (not that Chris Jones) and Joe Vellano all season. The run D slipped quite a bit from 2012 (4.6 YPC vs 3.9), though it's worth noting that the overall quality of the defense was not a lot different (they went from 9th in scoring D / 25th in yardage D to 10th in scoring D / 26th in yardage). Late in the year they did bring in Sealver Siliga.
 

Soxy

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Probably worth noting that Greg Olsen hasn't done a damn thing when Cam Newton was not his quarterback. Granted, his QBs before Cam were a Kyle Orton/Rex Grossman/Jay Cutler triad of nonsense. But still. Worth noting.

Greg Olsen was a very good TE who was an underrated blocker, but I have a hard time separating his success from Cam's.
 

Super Nomario

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Probably worth noting that Greg Olsen hasn't done a damn thing when Cam Newton was not his quarterback. Granted, his QBs before Cam were a Kyle Orton/Rex Grossman/Jay Cutler triad of nonsense. But still. Worth noting.

Greg Olsen was a very good TE who was an underrated blocker, but I have a hard time separating his success from Cam's.
Olsen definitely took his game to a new level in Carolina, especially in the '14-'16 period when he went over 1000 yards every year, but he was a 400-600 yard guy in Chicago, including a 612-yard, 8 TD year in 2009. Meanwhile the Patriots TE corps consists of two rookies and Ryan Izzo, who has 6 catches in two seasons.
 

EL Jeffe

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I'm on the same page with Cam, but going from Olsen to this trio is a gargantuan dropoff. We've seen Pats teams over the last decade compensate for suspect (or worse) receiving corps by targeting the tight ends more; we also saw how limited that approach was last year when the tight ends weren't there. Cam is a unique weapon, but history suggests he's just as susceptible to varying performance based on the quality of his supporting cast as any other quarterback. And I have a lot of concerns with this supporting cast.


Probably 2013, when Wilfork got hurt and only played four games and they were running out Chris Jones (not that Chris Jones) and Joe Vellano all season. The run D slipped quite a bit from 2012 (4.6 YPC vs 3.9), though it's worth noting that the overall quality of the defense was not a lot different (they went from 9th in scoring D / 25th in yardage D to 10th in scoring D / 26th in yardage). Late in the year they did bring in Sealver Siliga.
No doubt about it on offense; Greg Olsen is likely to be superior to this group unless Asiasi and/or Keene are really unique. I do think Asiasi is going to be legitimately playable as a rookie though. 2 years in the Chip Kelly offense is almost like a master class for college football TEs. UCLA did a lot of really fun stuff with their TEs. But in any event, outside of these past few All-Pro type McCafferey seasons (where Cam wasn't always available or healthy), I'd put this Patriots group ahead of Carolina's. This WR group is generally on par with most Carolina seasons. Pending health, this OL is as good or better than what Cam Carolina had. Norv is obviously a quality OC, but I'd put this offensive coaching staff ahead of what Carolina has had. If Cam is healthy, they're going to be fine on offense. Middle of the pack fine; potentially better if a couple of the young guys are ready for primetime.

Also, I come to this site for Joe Vellano references. I completely forgot that guy was ever a thing, let alone a starter. In any event, 2013 had Nink, Chandler Jones, Hightower, Spikes, a few games of Mayo, a few games of Wilfork, rookie Jamie Collins. It was a weird combo of duct tape (Vellano, Jones, Tommy Kelly) and legit front 7 guys. I just see so many question marks on this defense. A really good QB (which healthy Cam is) and a top OL (on paper/if healthy) can carry an offense to respectability, which is why I'm not particularly concerned about the offense. On D, the corners are great and DMac is DMac, but Lawrence Guy looks like their best front 7 player, and by a decent margin. I really like Guy, but they need so many of their young upside guys to pop. It's a tall order.
 

Super Nomario

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No doubt about it on offense; Greg Olsen is likely to be superior to this group unless Asiasi and/or Keene are really unique. I do think Asiasi is going to be legitimately playable as a rookie though. 2 years in the Chip Kelly offense is almost like a master class for college football TEs. UCLA did a lot of really fun stuff with their TEs. But in any event, outside of these past few All-Pro type McCafferey seasons (where Cam wasn't always available or healthy), I'd put this Patriots group ahead of Carolina's. This WR group is generally on par with most Carolina seasons. Pending health, this OL is as good or better than what Cam Carolina had. Norv is obviously a quality OC, but I'd put this offensive coaching staff ahead of what Carolina has had. If Cam is healthy, they're going to be fine on offense. Middle of the pack fine; potentially better if a couple of the young guys are ready for primetime.
Who's the best TE Kelly produced? Ed Dickson? (Coincidentally, Dickson replaced Olsen in Carolina when he got hurt in 2017).

I like Asiasi, and for that matter Keene, a lot. But T.J. Hockenson was a generational TE prospect, a top 10 pick last year, and he couldn't crack 400 receiving yards. Given the variety of run and pass game responsibilities, TE is probably the most complicated position in the offense other than QB. We've certainly lamented the inability of rookie WRs to contribute in the past, but TEs have to know everything WRs do, plus all the pass protection and run game assignments, and it's a year with a limited preseason. I'm just really skeptical banking on rookie TEs for much, even though I think of his draft class, Asiasi is the most ready to contribute in an all-around role.

Also, I come to this site for Joe Vellano references. I completely forgot that guy was ever a thing, let alone a starter. In any event, 2013 had Nink, Chandler Jones, Hightower, Spikes, a few games of Mayo, a few games of Wilfork, rookie Jamie Collins. It was a weird combo of duct tape (Vellano, Jones, Tommy Kelly) and legit front 7 guys. I just see so many question marks on this defense. A really good QB (which healthy Cam is) and a top OL (on paper/if healthy) can carry an offense to respectability, which is why I'm not particularly concerned about the offense. On D, the corners are great and DMac is DMac, but Lawrence Guy looks like their best front 7 player, and by a decent margin. I really like Guy, but they need so many of their young upside guys to pop. It's a tall order.
I'm having trouble with the bolded. I think you need some skill talent. It doesn't have to be WRs, it doesn't have to be TEs, but this team has neither.

I also think the defensive concerns you have (which I share, though maybe not to the same degree) feed offensive concerns. You can maybe get by shoving teams around with a run-first offense if your D is shutting them down and you build up a lead. But if your D isn't stopping people and you fall behind, now you've gotta spread things out and throw, and that's where I have real concerns. If I knew the D was going to be as good as last year (especially the first half), I'd be a lot more optimistic about the offense, if that makes any sense.
 

NJ_Sox_Fan

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I voted 10-12, although I was torn between 7-9 and the 10-12 range. I think they have enough, in a still weak division, to get to 10 wins.
 

EL Jeffe

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I'm having trouble with the bolded. I think you need some skill talent. It doesn't have to be WRs, it doesn't have to be TEs, but this team has neither.
I think the skill talent is enough (not good, but enough) for the system when it's combined with this QB and OL. We know what Jules and James White are, and they are certainly Super Bowl caliber weapons. I may be overly optimistic about Harris; his pedigree is insane. When you're Alabama's all-time leader in YPC, that's saying something. 1,000 yard seasons as a sophomore and junior while averaging more than 7ypc both years is nuts. The combine numbers were good and we saw the burst, vision and contact balance in the preseason last year. By all accounts, he was great in camp this year. My hope is he's the feature back when he returns, but time will tell. Who the hell knows with Sony; he was a serviceable runner as a rookie and then lousy last season. Supposedly he slimmed down and looked quicker in camp, but his knees are what they are (as are his receiving skills). Outside looking in, it's a bit crazy Harris didn't get some of those Sony touches last year.

I was never a N'Keal fan and had him as a 3rd rounder, but I can definitely see him duplicating what Funchess did in Carolina. I think N'Keal is the better athlete and more talented player; I just don't think a 60/800 type season is too aggressive of a projection for him. 6 months ago I thought having Gunner on the team would be a major red flag--it may still be--but I'll buy into the camp hype. The hands were apparently inconsistent, but it sounds like he showed route explosiveness and created real separation. I just think if you can keep a clean pocket and have a high-end QB, you'll be okay. Jules and White will do their thing, Harry will step up to be a serviceable complimentary receiver, and at least one of Meyers, Gunner, and Byrd will be okay. I also think Cam's running in the goal-to-go situations will help where they had some struggles there last year.

I have them in the 6-8 win range because I think they're middle of the pack on offense and defense. Just too many unknowns and inexperienced players are being relied on. Combine that with a very challenging schedule and an iffy kicking game, and I can't see a winning record. But I'm absolutely looking forward to watching the young guys play and not having the crushing expectations where every loss felt like a punch to the gut.
 

Jimbodandy

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Who's the best TE Kelly produced? Ed Dickson? (Coincidentally, Dickson replaced Olsen in Carolina when he got hurt in 2017).

I like Asiasi, and for that matter Keene, a lot. But T.J. Hockenson was a generational TE prospect, a top 10 pick last year, and he couldn't crack 400 receiving yards. Given the variety of run and pass game responsibilities, TE is probably the most complicated position in the offense other than QB. We've certainly lamented the inability of rookie WRs to contribute in the past, but TEs have to know everything WRs do, plus all the pass protection and run game assignments, and it's a year with a limited preseason. I'm just really skeptical banking on rookie TEs for much, even though I think of his draft class, Asiasi is the most ready to contribute in an all-around role.


I'm having trouble with the bolded. I think you need some skill talent. It doesn't have to be WRs, it doesn't have to be TEs, but this team has neither.

I also think the defensive concerns you have (which I share, though maybe not to the same degree) feed offensive concerns. You can maybe get by shoving teams around with a run-first offense if your D is shutting them down and you build up a lead. But if your D isn't stopping people and you fall behind, now you've gotta spread things out and throw, and that's where I have real concerns. If I knew the D was going to be as good as last year (especially the first half), I'd be a lot more optimistic about the offense, if that makes any sense.
I don't dispute your take on the complexity of the TE position, but I think that you can make a case that the two most impactful rookie receivers of the BFB era were at that position. Probably depends on the guy.
 

Super Nomario

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I think the skill talent is enough (not good, but enough) for the system when it's combined with this QB and OL. We know what Jules and James White are, and they are certainly Super Bowl caliber weapons. I may be overly optimistic about Harris; his pedigree is insane. When you're Alabama's all-time leader in YPC, that's saying something. 1,000 yard seasons as a sophomore and junior while averaging more than 7ypc both years is nuts. The combine numbers were good and we saw the burst, vision and contact balance in the preseason last year. By all accounts, he was great in camp this year. My hope is he's the feature back when he returns, but time will tell. Who the hell knows with Sony; he was a serviceable runner as a rookie and then lousy last season. Supposedly he slimmed down and looked quicker in camp, but his knees are what they are (as are his receiving skills). Outside looking in, it's a bit crazy Harris didn't get some of those Sony touches last year.
I want to respond to some of the parts of this, but I'm not going to because ultimately I don't think it matters. I think they will be able to run the ball against average or worse run Ds in most situations. But if they fall behind and have to throw, it's not going to matter whether it's Michel or Harris or how good those guys are, because they won't be in the game: James White will.

I was never a N'Keal fan and had him as a 3rd rounder, but I can definitely see him duplicating what Funchess did in Carolina. I think N'Keal is the better athlete and more talented player; I just don't think a 60/800 type season is too aggressive of a projection for him.
It's worth noting - Funchess only hit those numbers once, and in 3 of his other 4 years in CAR, he was closer to half that. Even at his best, he wasn't that efficient (57% catch rate in 2017; 52% for his Panthers career). Cam has often had receivers like Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin who got a lot of volume but were incredibly inefficient. I can't see Belichick letting Harry get 100 targets if he's only catching half of them, and if that's going on, the pass game is going to suck.

And as mediocre as Funchess is, Harry has a long way to go to prove he can get there. Ryan Izzo and Brandon Bolden had more receiving production last year, for goodness sakes. And once you accept that Harry has basically no floor, the whole receiving corps falls apart: it's old, already-banged up Edelman and nothing whatsoever proven besides.
 

EL Jeffe

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I want to respond to some of the parts of this, but I'm not going to because ultimately I don't think it matters. I think they will be able to run the ball against average or worse run Ds in most situations. But if they fall behind and have to throw, it's not going to matter whether it's Michel or Harris or how good those guys are, because they won't be in the game: James White will.


It's worth noting - Funchess only hit those numbers once, and in 3 of his other 4 years in CAR, he was closer to half that. Even at his best, he wasn't that efficient (57% catch rate in 2017; 52% for his Panthers career). Cam has often had receivers like Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin who got a lot of volume but were incredibly inefficient. I can't see Belichick letting Harry get 100 targets if he's only catching half of them, and if that's going on, the pass game is going to suck.

And as mediocre as Funchess is, Harry has a long way to go to prove he can get there. Ryan Izzo and Brandon Bolden had more receiving production last year, for goodness sakes. And once you accept that Harry has basically no floor, the whole receiving corps falls apart: it's old, already-banged up Edelman and nothing whatsoever proven besides.
I don't want to derail this any more than I already have (but hey, I'm on topic at least). I'm generally aligned with you and part playing devil's advocate and part possibly being optimistic, but there's also a degree of realism here. How many yards do you foresee this offense having (assuming Cam stays healthy)? The Patriots threw for 4,153 yards last year. We all know who was on the team. The 2015 15-1 Panthers threw for 3,873 yards and that was with Olsen (very good season), and Ginn Jr, Corey Brown, and Funchess at WR. Stewart, Tolbert, and Whittaker at RB. That's not exactly a murder's row of talent. I mean, the Jaguars threw for 4,000 yards last year with Chris Freaking Conley getting 775 yards. It's a passing league and the yards will come. It's not like they're throwing a completely overmatched Luke Falk, David Blough or Ducky Hodges out there to play QB where it's just going to be a complete rock fight. We're talking about a healthy (for now, at least) Cam Newton.
 

SMU_Sox

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Ok I lied - y'all made such great points that I'm going to chime in once again. A big part of Harry's game is using that big body and physicality to create separation at the catch point and then he works his RAC/YAC magic. Most of the bigger receivers like the guy I was drooling over in the draft (Cephus) do this typically at the top of their route stem. JJAW (Eagles 2nd round WR last year) predicated his whole game on that at Stanford as another example. In order for that to be efficient you have to know exactly when the receiver is going to come "NFL open". JJAW, like Harry, struggled immensely in his first year. You can't just chuck the ball to them at any point in the route and expect them to make a tough catch. NFL corners know how to stick with receivers at the catch point and if you throw to them when the corner has had time to recover after the receiver breaks at the top of his stem then the corner can get his hands up at the catch point and make the catch a difficult task. So to me you need to have even more timing and anticipation when working with bigger receivers who primarily get open only for a short time at the top of their stems.

Edit: or you put those guys who struggle with separation in the slot, give them a clean release, and run routes that are easier to get open vs the types of coverage you are getting. There are man and zone beating concepts the Pat run all the time. IMO Harry and his skill-set would be much more beneficial in the slot until he is much more consistent and efficient against press on the outside.
 

Super Nomario

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I don't want to derail this any more than I already have (but hey, I'm on topic at least). I'm generally aligned with you and part playing devil's advocate and part possibly being optimistic, but there's also a degree of realism here. How many yards do you foresee this offense having (assuming Cam stays healthy)? The Patriots threw for 4,153 yards last year. We all know who was on the team. The 2015 15-1 Panthers threw for 3,873 yards and that was with Olsen (very good season), and Ginn Jr, Corey Brown, and Funchess at WR. Stewart, Tolbert, and Whittaker at RB. That's not exactly a murder's row of talent. I mean, the Jaguars threw for 4,000 yards last year with Chris Freaking Conley getting 775 yards. It's a passing league and the yards will come. It's not like they're throwing a completely overmatched Luke Falk, David Blough or Ducky Hodges out there to play QB where it's just going to be a complete rock fight. We're talking about a healthy (for now, at least) Cam Newton.
The issue with the Patriots last year was not the number of total passing yards (they finished 8th in overall passing yards), it's that they were inefficient (6.1 NY/A was below the league average of 6.3, and it was worse in the second half).

If Harry was on the 2015 Panthers and got 120 targets or whatever, he could certainly put up 60 / 800 as Funchess did in 2017 or Kelvin Benjamin did in 2014 and 2016. Those players were hurting the offense, however. We saw last year with the WRs (and many other times through the years at many other positions) that Belichick isn't just going to keep running guys out there who stink like that. They kept experimenting (futilely, and arguably counter-productively) to find combinations that worked, and nothing did. That's why only Edelman and White had 400 receiving yards last year. Dorsett or Meyers could have surpassed that easily if they'd stuck with them, but they were looking for more than they were getting from those guys.

So to me, 60 / 800 is a really optimistic projection because it assumes that Harry is playing efficiently enough that they don't seek alternative options. But even if they do ride with him all year, if he's inefficient (like he was last year and like many of Cam's big WRs in Carolina were), he's not going to help the passing offense even if he puts up superficially respectable numbers like that. In Cam's best years, he was getting efficient production from other guys that offset the Benjamins and Funchesses.
 

EL Jeffe

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The issue with the Patriots last year was not the number of total passing yards (they finished 8th in overall passing yards), it's that they were inefficient (6.1 NY/A was below the league average of 6.3, and it was worse in the second half).

If Harry was on the 2015 Panthers and got 120 targets or whatever, he could certainly put up 60 / 800 as Funchess did in 2017 or Kelvin Benjamin did in 2014 and 2016. Those players were hurting the offense, however. We saw last year with the WRs (and many other times through the years at many other positions) that Belichick isn't just going to keep running guys out there who stink like that. They kept experimenting (futilely, and arguably counter-productively) to find combinations that worked, and nothing did. That's why only Edelman and White had 400 receiving yards last year. Dorsett or Meyers could have surpassed that easily if they'd stuck with them, but they were looking for more than they were getting from those guys.

So to me, 60 / 800 is a really optimistic projection because it assumes that Harry is playing efficiently enough that they don't seek alternative options. But even if they do ride with him all year, if he's inefficient (like he was last year and like many of Cam's big WRs in Carolina were), he's not going to help the passing offense even if he puts up superficially respectable numbers like that. In Cam's best years, he was getting efficient production from other guys that offset the Benjamins and Funchesses.
I'm not expecting the 2020 Patriots to be overly efficient, but there's a ton of unknowns with what this offense will look like.

Harry's efficiency will be interesting. I'm expecting a fair amount of tear/bubble screens (not sure what terminology NE uses for them). It's an efficient route, particularly for a guy like Harry who is so good after the catch. I think those will boost his efficiency, and then it will come down to how he does at the 2nd and 3rd levels. I'm sure NE has a plan for him because it's hard to make a living off back-shoulders and jump balls. We'll see what sort of 2nd year jump (if any) is in store for him and if the Footwork King time paid off. They kind of need him to step up, so maybe I'm just counting on that to happen.

I can 100% see a downside scenario where Cam isn't right (and Stidham isn't the answer, but time will tell on that front), or Edelman can't stay on the field, or White can't stay on the field, or the 2nd year guys are exactly what we saw last season. I'm going into this season expecting things go according to "plan."
 

Super Nomario

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Harry's efficiency will be interesting. I'm expecting a fair amount of tear/bubble screens (not sure what terminology NE uses for them). It's an efficient route, particularly for a guy like Harry who is so good after the catch. I think those will boost his efficiency, and then it will come down to how he does at the 2nd and 3rd levels. I'm sure NE has a plan for him because it's hard to make a living off back-shoulders and jump balls. We'll see what sort of 2nd year jump (if any) is in store for him and if the Footwork King time paid off. They kind of need him to step up, so maybe I'm just counting on that to happen.
Bubble screens might be efficient on a catch rate basis, but probably not in a yards per target basis. I think Sanu's removal is probably the best thing for Harry, as it will let them move him around more. He was pretty locked in at X receiver last year, where he was terrible, which makes sense because he had real problems against press in college. He really can't be any worse in that role this year, but even if he's not better, they have more freedom to use him better. Which only really solves the offense's problems to the extent Byrd can thrive in that X role, which is another pretty big question mark.

I can 100% see a downside scenario where Cam isn't right (and Stidham isn't the answer, but time will tell on that front), or Edelman can't stay on the field, or White can't stay on the field, or the 2nd year guys are exactly what we saw last season. I'm going into this season expecting things go according to "plan."
I just can't give them the benefit of the doubt on the WR/TE plan this year after the last two seasons. They added a bevy of flotsam and jetsam at WR in the 2018 offseason trying to see what would stick, with the answer ultimately being "none of it." They did the same last year pre-draft. Then they invested big in Harry, gave Brown real money, and traded a 2nd for Sanu, all of which were disasters in 2019. This year, they basically stood pat, waiting for the Harry and Sanu investments to pay off. One of those has already failed. They had zero plan at TE in 2019, from what I can tell, and this year they added no veteran presence whatsoever, so they're entirely at the mercy of what the rookies give them. I'm gonna have to see it, because nothing I've seen so far tells me this is going to work out.