Eight games are in the books for the New England Patriots so we polled the Pats Pulpit staff to get their thoughts on the first half of the season. We’ll be posting other awards this week, including Offensive and Defensive Player of the Half-year, the Non-Tom Brady Most Valuable Player, and the Most Improved Player of the Half-year.
We added some smaller categories do, so here’s our winners for Comeback Player, Best Coach, Best Play, and more down below.
Comeback Player: TE Rob Gronkowski
Thomas: Dion Lewis
Moore: Dion Lewis
Rewinski: Rob Gronkowski. We truly can't overstate how much of an "IF" it is that Gronk comes back from his laundry list of injuries and comes back peak Gronk. It's good to be Gronk, and it's good to be back.
Keiran: Gronk, for all-too-obvious reasons
Bernd: TE Rob Gronkowski. After ending last year on injured reserve, the league's best tight end is back and looks like his usual self as both a blocker and a pass catcher. Overall, Gronkowski has caught 34 passes for 509 yards and five touchdowns in seven games - an impressive output as it is; even more impressive for a player coming off a season-ending injury.
Rich’s thoughts: I agree with the Gronkowski nod after coming back from a serious back surgery and picking up where he had left off. He’s still the best tight end in the NFL.
Best Rookie: DL Deatrich Wise
Thomas: Deatrich Wise
Moore: Deatrich Wise
Rewinski: Deatrich Wise. Fun fact: as of this week, Wise has more QB hits than Joey Bosa does.
Keiran: Deatrich Wise both by default and because he’s been legitimately good. Watch out for Adam Butler to have something to say about this by the end of the season though.
Bernd: Deatrich Wise Jr. Due to the great defensive end exodus of 2017, Wise Jr. was needed to step up on the opposite side of Trey Flowers. He did not disappoint and despite sone expected growing pains, played a good first half of the season. How good? According to Pro Football Focus only one other rookie has more quarterback pressures than Wise Jr.'s 24.
Rich’s thoughts: The winner was either going to be Wise or Adam Butler and Wise is simply a superior player and already a noteworthy defender for opposing coaches.
Best Coach: WR coach Chad O’Shea
McDermott: No positional unit has exceeded expectations IMO, but I'll give it to Josh Boyer since the Patriots defense has done a good job with Gilmore and Rowe on the shelf
Thomas: Chad O'Shea, for the top-three wideout's production without Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell.
Moore: Chad O'Shea (WR coach), has gotten great production from Hogan & Cooks
Keiran: Scar. Solder has stunk, but Mason and Andrews have been at the top of their positions around the league, Cannon has maintained his steadiness from last year, and Thuney has been good and cut down on the penalties that plagued him last year.
Bernd: Joe Judge. On average, New England's opponents start drives on their own 24.8 yard-line - a testament to the Patriots' risk-averse offense but also to outstanding special teams play. The coverage units and kicker Stephen Gostkowski have been very good this season. Gostkowski has also rebounded nicely from an inconsistent 2016, all while Ryan Allen and Joe Cardona have been their usual reliable selves. All in all, another good campaign so far by Judge's units.
Rich’s thoughts: I really like Bernd’s nod to the Patriots’ special teams unit that has been outstanding through eight games. I also respect the O’Shea pick because he helped integrate a few new receivers in Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett and overcame the loss of Julian Edelman.
Best Game: Week 3 vs Texans
McDermott: Patriots dominating the Falcons in Week 7
Thomas: Patriots' 36-33 win over Texans
Moore: NE vs. HOU
Rewinski: Got to be the Texans win. And since then, the Texans have proven they're not the same old Texans, either. Looks a lot better when Houston's hanging 38 on Seattle, in hindsight.
Keiran: Texans. Look up the GWTD set to Titanic music. Glorious.
Bernd: Week 7 against the Falcons. The Patriots looked good in stretches through the first half of the season but played only one truly dominant game: week seven's 23-7 victory over the visiting Falcons. New England displayed its potential in all three phases of the game against a very good opponent and for the only time so far in 2017 delivered a 60-minute performance.
Rich’s thoughts: It was either the Super Bowl rematch for the game-winning drive against the Texans and it’s not hard to argue that the Texans game was more exciting to watch.
Best Play: Brandin Cooks’ game-winner vs Houston
McDermott: Gronk making the Saints look silly
Thomas: Danny Amendola's third-and-18 catch to set up Brandin Cooks' game-winner versus Houston
Moore: Brandin Cooks' reception to win the game vs. HOU
Rewinski: Malcolm Butler's pass deflection on Julio Jones to preserve the shutout (until garbage time, anyway). There is no quit in Butler, period, end of story. I'm going to miss him.
Keiran: Gotta be the Cooks GWTD.
Bernd: Brandin Cooks' game-winner versus the Texans. The two-minute drill, Tom Brady's natural habitat. Down five with 2:24 left, New England's quarterback led a masterful drive down to beat Houston with the play of the year: Despite the pressure getting to him, Brady was able to deliver a perfect throw to a spot where only Cooks could grab it. One of the best passes you will ever see; the fact that it took place in absolute crunch time only adds to the play's greatness.
Rich’s thoughts: Cooks’ game-winner is one of the best throws to cap off one of the best drives in Tom Brady’s career. It’s an easy choice.