What Patriots Can Take Away From All 14 Teams Who Made NFL Playoffs

There's a lesson to learn from each team in the 2020 NFL playoffs


Jan 9, 2021

The New England Patriots are perhaps the most well-run franchise in the NFL, but there’s always something to take away from a successful team.

Here are lessons the Patriots can learn from all 14 teams that made the 2020 NFL postseason.

The Patriots need to start taking more chances on early-round quarterbacks. Reaching for a quarterback is never a smart idea, but the Chiefs found their quarterback, superstar Patrick Mahomes, 10th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.

All nine teams ahead of the Chiefs would probably trade anything away to get a second chance in that draft.

The Patriots pick 15th overall. If the right QB is there, take a shot. Who knows.

The relationship between an offensive coordinator and quarterback is paramount. Look no further than the strides Bills QB Josh Allen has made since his rookie season. The Bills would not be where they’re at right now without offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s work with Allen.

The Patriots could steal some of Pittsburgh’s scouting methods on wide receivers. The Steelers just keep producing top-tier players at the position, and New England would gladly take Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, Juju Smith-Schuster or even James Washington off of their hands.

Sometimes it’s worth seeing if you can fix a retread quarterback. Ryan Tannehill was nothing more than a middling starter before taking over for Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. Since that time, he’s been one of the most efficient passers in the league.

Perhaps the Patriots could fix a player like Mariota, Sam Darnold, Jimmy Garoppolo or Carson Wentz.

Teams can still win with a subpar group of weapons. It could be difficult for the Patriots to completely overhaul their wide receivers and tight ends in one offseason. Lean into your other strengths. That’s what the Ravens have done.

You don’t need an overly mobile quarterback to have a strong rushing attack. Damien Harris and Sony Michel might not quite be Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, but no matter who is at quarterback in 2021, the Patriots should be counting on their run game to carry them next season.

The draft is the simplest way to build a winning team. Over the last three years, the Colts have overhauled their roster by drafting Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, Tyquan Lewis, Nyheim Hines, Rock Ya-Sin, Bobby Okereke, Khair Willis, Michael Pittman Jr., Jonathan Taylor and Julian Blackmon. They also traded a first-round pick for standout defensive lineman DeForest Buckner.

Don’t give up on those tight ends. Robert Tonyan broke out in a big way this season with 11 touchdowns three years after he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Indiana State.

The cap is crap. The Saints are in salary cap hell every season yet somehow still find a way to keep being competitive. It is possible to keep kicking that can down the road. Just ask Saints general manager Mickey Loomis.

Maybe don’t always draft a wide receiver based on 3-cone time. DK Metcalf has been pretty dominant since entering the NFL in 2019.

Join a worse division? There’s really not much to learn from the WFT. They have some pretty sweet new uniforms, though.

Nose tackles matter. Vita Vea has been well worth a first-round pick in Tampa Bay. And if the right quarterback isn’t there for the Patriots at No. 15 overall, then New England might want to upgrade the middle of their defense with a big body.

Size doesn’t always matter on defense. The Rams regularly play with a light box and are still able to capable of stopping the run.

You can totally butcher your quarterback situation and still make the postseason. Sometimes it’s better to miss out and get a higher draft pick, though.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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