It’s a new year and that means we’ve got some new series’ for you here at Pats Pulpit. In this one we are going to take a look at the unsung heroes and plays from each week’s New England Patriots game. Every week we hear about gaudy numbers and replay the flashy plays, but what about the people who help make those plays happen? The linemen, special teams stars, hell, even the fullbacks. We will cover any and everyone who deserves more recognition and credit for the product you see on the field.
Before we profile each week’s player, I want to highlight some great plays from the guys that didn’t make the cut.
Chase Winovich’s first-down saving tackle
Chase Winovich cares not for your holds. He makes plays anyway. pic.twitter.com/EPq2rLrIuE— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 14, 2020
This play by Winovich is a great example of what effort can get you. Despite being held he makes a good play to prevent a first down. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make an interception like this later in the season.
Damiere Byrd and Devin Asiasi downfield blocking
Asiasi and Byrd both did a great job on this play, these are the things that you need to do to earn more time/stay on the field in New England. It looks like the two first-year Patriots recognize that.
Adrian Phillips’ pressure on Stephon Gilmore’s interception
Without the pressure from Phillips, Ryan Fitzpatrick likely doesn’t make that throw. Overall, it was a great call by Steve Belichick/Jerod Mayo and even better execution by the pass rush.
I thought they’d do more of this given their history with Miami Dolphins center Ted Karras and the state of the team’s interior offensive line, but I assume New England didn’t want to show a whole lot in Week 1.
Lawrence Guy and Anfernee Jennings’ goal line stop
Larry Guy continues to be a stud. I can’t believe Bill hasn’t extended him yet. (Nice play by the rook Anfernee Jennings as well.) pic.twitter.com/Baboi0oAkK— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 14, 2020
Lawrence Guy has been the Patriots’ most consistent defensive lineman for the last three years and shows why here. No matter what he’s asked to do, he gets it done. Jennings, who the Patriots kept active over fellow rookie Josh Uche, combined with him on the stop. Good, hard-nosed, football from the rookie.
There were a ton of great plays that flew under the radar this week but there was one man who made multiple of them.
G/OT Michael Onwenu
In one of the biggest surprises of the week, sixth-round draft pick Michael Onwenu led all Patriots rookies with 26 snaps. All together he played right tackle, jumbo tight end, and was one of the protection men on field goals. He did all of this without even playing guard, which is his natural position. Positional versatility isn’t something I was expecting to highlight when talking about Onwenu after the first week of the season.
Not only did Onwenu play a good amount — he was on the field for 34% of offensive snaps — but he started the game at tight end, making a great play to open up the Patriots’ season:
Michael Onwenu was great yesterday. I did a little break down of his first career snap, where they ran right behind him. pic.twitter.com/FZeHJq9m87— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 14, 2020
Onwenu seemed to be in a rotation at right tackle with Jermaine Eluemunor, who saw most of the snaps. When the rookie was on the field, though, he played well: he had a clean sheet in pass protection and a couple nice blocks that helped break off some good runs, including this beauty:
He spent time right tackle and sprung J.J. Taylor loose on a nice run in the third quarter. pic.twitter.com/zrB0aEsW4G— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 14, 2020
Onwenu was also critical on the Patriots’ lone fourth down play in Week 1, where Cam Newton ran right behind him for a first down. The Michigan product crashed down and allowed fullback Jakob Johnson to lead the way for New England’s dual-threat QB. The team showed that it has a lot of trust in Onwenu to run their quarterback right behind him in a critical spot. He stayed in on Sony Michel’s touchdown run as well:
They trusted him a ton, running behind him on more than a few occasions, including their lone fourth down play. pic.twitter.com/z6KVZikdg9— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 14, 2020
Overall, you couldn’t ask for much more out of a rookie sixth rounder, especially in 2020. If Onwenu can build on his performance he should see the field plenty this season.
That will do it for this week. If you guys saw something that I missed, let me know over on Twitter: @KeaganStiefel. We’ll see you next week!