The 2020 NFL season was a failure for the Patriots, at least by their standards.
New England responded by attacking the offseason.
After finishing below .500 for the first time since the 2000 campaign, the Patriots took part in an uncharacteristic spending spree in free agency to address a variety of needs. New England also checked off a few boxes in the draft and managed to keep a handful of veteran team leaders in house.
In turn, it comes as no surprise Bill Belichick’s team ranks high on ESPN’s power ranking of the most improved NFL teams. The Patriots come in at No. 5, trailing only the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Washington Football Team and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.
“Some have criticized New England’s offseason spending spree, but I’m struggling to see how this roster isn’t significantly better than it was last season,” Mike Clay wrote.
“(Hunter) Henry and (Jonnu) Smith were the two best tight ends on the market and will play major roles. (Kyle) Van Noy, (Matt) Judon, (Davon) Godchaux, (Henry) Anderson and (Dont’a) Hightower are all potential starters, and (Jalen) Mills also will play a significant role. (Nelson) Agholor and Kendrick Bourne help replace retired (Julian) Edelman. (Joe) Thuney is a tough loss, but New England still has one the league’s best overall offensive lines after adding (Trent) Brown at right tackle. Oh, and New England very well could have a franchise QB after selecting (Mac) Jones in the first round.
Clay raises valid points, but touchdowns aren’t scored and tackles aren’t made on paper. Those aforementioned players all will need to live up to expectations if the Patriots want to be a true Super Bowl contender this season.