Projecting Patriots' Offensive Starters for 2020 Season
The post-Tom Brady era in New England has a bit of uncertainty to it. With little money to spend this offseason and several holes to fill leading up to the draft, the Patriots are in unprecedented territory. There hasn't been this much uncertainty about the six-time Super Bowl champions since before Bill Belichick won his first championship in New England in 2001.
One reason for the unclear future of the Patriots is their offense. But before we get into detail, let's first look at New England's projected first-team offense for the 2020 season:
Offensive line (Left to Right)
As of Sunday, March 29, New England's projected first-team offense still has a few question marks and glaring concerns. With Benjamin Watson officially retiring earlier this month, the Patriots now have Matt LaCosse as the top tight end on the depth chart. That's concerning. LaCosse hasn't surpassed 250 receiving yards or 24 receptions in a single season in his four-year career; on top of that, last season he earned a 53.6 overall grade by PFF, which ranked 55th among tight ends. Unfortunately, LaCosse is New England's best option at the moment, as the only other TE on the roster is Ryan Izzo, who played his first healthy season in 2019 and caught just six passes.
While the offense line should be back to it's 2018 form as one of the best in the league - although this is assuming David Andrews fully recovers and is ready to play next season - what remains a question mark in the offenses run support is the fullback position. James Develin was placed on IR last season after suffering a neck injury, and the team signed Danny Vitale last week, which brings into question whether Develin will be healthy enough to play in 2020. If he isn't, then Vitale will be a downgrade from Develin's Pro Bowl-caliber talent. But Vitale should be better than linebacker Elandon Roberts, who filled in at fullback last season after Jakob Johnson also landed on IR.
With a healthier receiving corps next season, the Patriots should see a big boost in production from their pass-catchers. Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry and Mohamed Sanu all battled injuries throughout last season, so having them all healthy in 2020 will allow us to see what the offense will look like with Harry and Sanu having a full offseason with the playbook and no lingering injuries.
At the moment it seems that the starting QB job is Jarrett Stidham's to lose. However, Brian Hoyer was signed by the Patriots last week with the intention of him competing for the starting role. Hoyer is a serviceable option at QB, by Stidham provides much more upside at the position, which is why he is the projected starter at the moment. If Stidham can be a game manager while making a handful of key plays over the course of a game and allow his defense and the run game to shoulder the workload, New England will find success next season. But if he consistently makes mistakes - which is very possible given is lack of experience as a starter in the NFL - then the Patriots will be looking at one of their worst seasons since 2000. New England's 2020 season will weigh heavily on the play of the former fourth-round draft choice.