The Patriots have played five games thus far and sit at a modest 3-2, a record even the most anti-Patriots fans would say surprised them. After all, going into the year there was a lot of talk about another run at a 16-0 regular season, but that was put to bed early as the lone undefeated team left in the NFL, the Chiefs, came in and knocked the defending champs around. Nonetheless, 3-2 is the same spot the Patriots were in when they won the championship in 2014 and it also has them tied for first in their division with the Bills and the surprising Jets.
One positive has been the play of certain Patriots this season that has allowed them to stay afloat while the team figures out certain things on defense and the offense gets adjusted to the personnel they have week-to-week, something that has become somewhat of a moving target due to either injury or change in gameplan. Either way, there have been a number of bright spots despite the mediocre and un-Patriot like performance so far.
Here are the top five Patriots performers from five to one for this season through five games:
5. Chris Hogan, WR
The Patriots have had a really good offense so far to start the season as they are number one in the NFL in total yard per game, passing yards per game, and third in points per game. A big part of that success has been thanks to Hogan, who has taken on a bigger role this year with the loss of Edelman and the inconsistent play of Brandin Cooks thus far.
After a basically non-existent first game for Hogan, he has played a huge role for this team finishing with at least 60 yards and one touchdown in every game since then. Hogan has also given Tom Brady a familiar target that he can trust, which has been huge considering the poor play of the offensive line from a pass protection standpoint. Hogan has given the Patriots another big body to target when Gronk is unavailable or less than 100 percent.
Look for Hogan to continue this impressive run and finish with close to 1,000 receiving yards and at least 10 touchdowns, numbers that represent a top option in any offense.
4. Deatrich Wise, DE
Hard to believe that Wise could be this high on the list considering he is not really a full-time player yet, but it is true. Wise already has three sacks just two behind Chandler Jones, who is seventh in the NFL, despite being a rookie. Wise has shown impressive power and strong pass rush moves, but he also has given the Patriots another pass rusher along with Trey Flowers and another rookie, Adam Butler, to form a relatively strong trio of rushers.
Wise has been surprising how far he has come in such little time, something that even fellow Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers cannot even say as his first year was for all intents and purposes, a red-shirt year. One thing is for sure though, if Wise had not progressed to this level this fast the Patriots would have a much weaker pass rush, something that would make their average to below average unit weaker than it already is.
3. Trey Flowers, DE
The most important and top defensive player for the Patriots thus far is without a doubt Trey Flowers who has done it all for the Patriots. Flowers has been very strong against the run and has three and a half sacks to lead the team. Flowers has been a full-time player and has taken very few snaps off this year, something that is extremely impressive considering how much effort it takes to rush the passer.
Flowers currently sits fifth on the team in tackles with 22, something that shows how strong he is in using his leverage and controlling the line of scrimmage. In a short amount of time Flowers has become one of if not the most irreplaceable players on defense considering how short the Patriots are on defensive linemen that can rush the passer. Should the Patriots lose Flowers, his snap numbers would take two or potentially three players to take those snaps and get that production.
The defense is one of the worst in the NFL so far, but without Flowers, there wouldn’t be a question, it would be the worst.
2. Danny Amendola, WR
As impressive as Chris Hogan has been thus far, Danny Amendola has been even more impressive. Amendola has once again shown when given the opportunities he is a damn good football player and can separate against any player at any moment. In fact, the past few weeks the play of Amendola was reminiscent of the player the Patriots targeted when Wes Welker hit free agency and they decided to move on.
Amendola has 23 catches for 267 yards and touchdown, numbers that don’t look really strong, but keep in mind he missed one game due to a concussion. One key trait that Amendola brings to this offense that I previously mentioned was the ability to separate from the corner covering him, but also doing it quickly something that has allowed the Patriots to stay among the top teams in the NFL despite the loss of Edelman (they sit 10th at a 42.4% conversion rate, down from 46.6% last year).
Amendola clearly has the trust of Brady, McDaniels, and Belichick, something that cannot go unnoticed and his team-first attitude and toughness can also not be questioned. His play has been vital to the team and will be going forward if they are to achieve their goals for this season.
1. Tom Brady, QB
Surprise, surprise Brady is the top-performer again despite being 40 years old, playing behind a shaky offensive line thus far, and missing his favorite target for the season and having different players in and out of the lineup thus far.
So far Brady has a 68 percent completion percentage, 1,702 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception. Numbers that him on pace to finish the year with 5,446 pass yards, 35 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. All this despite being sacked as many times this year in five games as he was all of last year.
One thing Brady has done this year that is different from past years is how many deep balls he has been throwing, something that is obviously tied to the speed this offense possesses with Brandin Cooks and Hogan, as well as having Gronk running down the middle of the field.
Clearly, age is just a number to Brady and with his play thus far there is a good chance if he keeps it up and the Patriots go on their patented run in the second half of the year that Brady could end the season with another MVP trophy.
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