Keyshawn Johnson believes the Patriots aren’t receiving enough respect as the start of the 2021 NFL season draws closer.
New England had a miserable 2020 season by the standards set in Foxboro, but a productive offseason has inspired optimism for Bill Belichick’s team heading into the new campaign. The Patriots are poised to be much improved on both sides of the ball in 2021, particularly on offense.
Johnson clearly is expecting big things from New England in the upcoming season. The former NFL wide receiver campaigned for the Patriots as he debated with First Take’s Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman over which team is the biggest threat to the Kansas City Chiefs this season.
“You mentioned every team. You mentioned the Titans, right? You mentioned the Browns, the Ravens. Nobody mentioned the Patriots and I don’t know why,” Johnson said Thursday on ESPN. “Why do you not mention the greatest modern-day head coach. Mind you, went out in free agency, spend a boatload of money — something they’ve never done before — to shore up certain positions. They got Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne came over from the Niners. They traded back for Trent Brown with the Raiders. He had the best seasons that got him paid to Oakland, at the time, from New England. On top of all of that, they bring in Matt Patricia, who got hired as a defensive coordinator specialist to head coach in Detroit. We know how that worked out, but his thing is defense. He comes in, and we know he’s probably not gonna get the title, but he’s going to be calling the defense.
“On top of that, Cam Newton. He’s as healthy as ever. When you look at him prior to COVID, his numbers were way better than they were after COVID. So when you start to think about that, man, how can y’all leave out New England? I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.”
Johnson makes fair points, but he might be a little ambitious with his take. One could argue the Patriots aren’t even the team to beat in their own division, as the reigning AFC East champion Buffalo Bills are primed for another deep postseason run led by potential MVP candidate Josh Allen.
The Patriots should contend for a playoff spot this season, but it’s far too early to view them as the second-best team in the AFC.