The first half of the New England Patriots’ season ended on a down note when they lost Sunday night to the Baltimore Ravens. But we can still look back at the Patriots’ 8-1 start in a positive light with our midseason superlatives.
OK, technically, the first half of the Patriots’ season concluded last week after New England toppled the Cleveland Browns. But it’s the bye week now, and let’s be honest, the Patriots’ season lasts more than 17 weeks.
Without further ado, let’s hand out some awards:
CB Stephon Gilmore
Just last week, we called linebacker Jamie Collins the team’s MVP. He hasn’t had the best two-week stretch, which now has me pushing this award in Gilmore’s favor.
Gilmore is the best player on the Patriots’ defense. And even as the unit struggled Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens, Gilmore was doing his job against speedy wide receiver Marquise Brown.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE HALF
WR Julian Edelman
Edelman is in the running for team MVP as the Patriots’ top offensive skill player. He’s on pace for career highs in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns, which is mighty impressive for a 33-year-old “slot receiver.”
Edelman is oft-compared to Wes Welker. Welker caught 49 passes for 464 yards with two touchdowns in his Age 33 season. Edelman already has 63 catches for 663 yards for four touchdowns.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE HALF
LB Jamie Collins
We didn’t give Collins the team MVP, but we will make him our defensive player of the half. He has six sacks, three interceptions, eight quarterback hits, seven tackles for loss and a touchdown in nine games. He’s been all over the field in his return to the team after three seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
ROOKIE OF THE HALF
OLB Chase Winovich
The top choices here were Winovich, punter Jake Bailey and wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. Picking a punter is kind of boring, so let’s go with Winovich, who has 4.5 sacks in limited pass-rushing reps.
Winovich has been a part-time player, but he’s still making a major impact.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
DT Adam Butler
Butler has taken on a significantly bigger role this season, and he has 4.5 sacks to go along with it. Butler has two two-sack performances to his name in his third NFL season. He was a solid player before this season, but now he’s been a playmaker on the Patriots’ defense.
OLB Jamie Collins
Collins was expected to compete for a starting role in the Patriots defense. Not only did he win one, but he’s also been the team’s biggest playmaker. That constitutes a surprise.
DE Michael Bennett
Bennett should have been a favorite for that defensive player of the half honor. Instead, he’s not even on the team anymore. The Patriots traded for Bennett this offseason then shipped him out to the Dallas Cowboys before the trade deadline. Running back Sony Michel and right guard Shaq Mason also have underperformed this season.
PLAY OF THE HALF
Gilmore’s pick-six vs. Miami
There were many big defensive plays to pick from. We’ll go with this one from Gilmore. It was the first touchdown of his NFL career.