However, in 2021, the Patriots have a refreshed roster and a quarterback of the future waiting in the wings. On that note, let's have a look at the five biggest strengths and weaknesses of the New England Patriots in 2021.
Five strengths of the New England Patriots
#1 Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick has been to numerous Super Bowls. He has been in the league for decades and enjoyed success during most of his stint. If there is any coach that can turn around a 7-9 football team, it is Bill Belichick. Most teams in the league would trade their coach for Belichick at a moment's notice.
#2 Josh McDaniels
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has flown under the radar in the last few years. However, looking at last year, it is clear that McDaniels is still capable of putting together a good game plan.
Last season, the Patriots had arguably the worst offensive roster in the NFL. However, they ranked 27th overall simply because of Josh McDaniels.
#3 Mac Jones
Last season, there was almost no hope at quarterback. However, this season, fans will have hope, even if Cam Newton does not work out.
Mac Jones is the first big investment the Patriots have made at quarterback in quite some time. Fans are hoping Mac Jones is the answer for a team that could otherwise be in for an underwhelming season if Cam Newton throws for eight touchdowns and ten interceptions again.
Mac Jones gives fans a reason to watch even if the team does not win games, as they will get to watch Mac Jones' development.
#4 Revamped offense
The Patriots have not had much luck drafting players on offense in the last few years. However, this off-season, their focus was on attaining players through free agency. The Patriots signed Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith and others.
Many franchises would take years to attack a weakness in their team with the same intensity as the Patriots did this off-season.
Assuming Stephon Gilmore returns to the Patriots in 2021, their defense will be just as good as it has been in years past.
Last season, the Patriots' defense ranked 15th overall. While the stats did not jump off the page, the situational and red-zone defenses are the hallmarks of the Patriots' defense. While the offense has dropped since losing Tom Brady, the defense is as good as at any time in the past.
New England Patriots' five weaknesses
#1 Cam Newton
Putting it simply, Cam Newton has not been a good quarterback since his 2015 season that saw him reach the Super Bowl. Aside from enduring seasons plagued with injuries, Newton had his worst season in 2020. Last season, Cam Newton threw for eight touchdowns and ten interceptions. He only had 2657 yards of offense.
If he has another season like in 2020, the Patriots will swap him out for Mac Jones. If that happens, the Patriots will be in for an investment season in which Jones will be learning lessons at the cost of wins.
#2 A lot of untested free agents
On paper, the addition of all of the free agents should give the Patriots a decent offense in 2021. However, these free agents all come from disparate offensive schemes. There is no guarantee they will be as good as they were with their respective teams in the Patriots' offensive system. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the players will be any good in general.
In order for these players to become free agents, their original teams had to say 'no' at some point. This means there could be a hidden issue for the Patriots to uncover.
#3 Stephon Gilmore contract dispute
While there is still plenty of time to sort this out, Stephon Gilmore is still in the midst of a hold-out. There is a chance the Patriots will be without their top cornerback in Week One. It doesn't matter how good a defensive coach Bill Belichick is, without their top cornerback, the Patriots' defense could be crippled from the get go.
#4 Losing record in 2020
The Patriots had a losing record in 2020. In the NFL, teams that have a losing record are much more likely to have another one.
The Patriots entered 2021 with a losing football team. Did they do enough to correct the issue? Once teams start losing, they get treated like a broken car. The parts get tinkered with, but until the team is tested, they won't know if they fixed it.
Unfortunately for the New England Patriots, if they did not fix the team, they will need to wait another year to attempt another fix at the cost of losing football games.
#5 Harsh practices
Bill Belichick is notorious for running a tight ship. Practice is strict, and expectations are high. But players tend to go along with it because the team wins. However, if the team continues to lose in 2021, players will likely get fed up with the harsh culture. If the culture falls apart, fans could be in for long, dark era.