It’s weird feeling this upbeat after a New England Patriots loss. Somehow I am more than comfortable saying that the positives far outweigh the negatives from Sunday night’s loss in Seattle. Cam Newton was great again, Julian Edelman had a career night, and the defense — after a rough performance — gave the team a chance down the stretch. We all know about that stuff, but here we will take a look at things that may have gone unnoticed, including a guy who earned himself a lot more playing time moving forward.
Before we get to him, let’s look at the underrated plays.
John Simon, CEO of doing the little things.
John Simon is good at football. pic.twitter.com/pMdj8xawPd— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 21, 2020
If you ever wonder why John Simon is on the field so much, it’s because of plays like this. He does his job and doesn’t make mistakes. That’s all that Bill Belichick asks.
The offensive line wins five-on-five.
The offensive line gave Cam Newton 5 seconds to convert a 3rd and 2. Seems like a recipe for success. pic.twitter.com/WrFzf9Ctf8— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 21, 2020
If you’re going to be successful on offense your offense needs to be able to win five-on-five battles. They did that here as each man held down the fort to give Cal Newton an eternity in the pocket.
Wise-Guy sniffs out a screen.
Deatrich Wise playing smart and instinctive football is all I've ever wanted. pic.twitter.com/KGBSvCxoAl— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 21, 2020
Deatrich Wise Jr’s growth has been evident through two games this season. This is one of the smartest plays i’ve ever seen him make.
Rex Burkhead or Matt Light? I can’t tell.
Rex Burkhead stepped up HUGE in the absence of James White. pic.twitter.com/UtIOFAT9rZ— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 21, 2020
This past offseason I was trying to run Rex Burkhead out of town. I was wrong. Without him this team wouldn’t have a serious three-down threat. He’s been great through two weeks.
Now, let’s take a look at a player who has made tremendous strides early on.
S/LB Kyle Dugger
If you told me heading into the season that I would feature two rookies in the first two installments of this series I would have yelled at you about how rookies don’t contribute heavily this early on under Belichick. I was wrong. Michael Onwenu was great in Week 1 and Dugger was outstanding in Week 2. After only playing 11 snaps against Miami, the Patriots upped his work load as he saw the field 34 times, or 54 percent of the team’s defensive snaps on Sunday.
His biggest contribution came as a blitzer, picking up half a sack on this beautiful rush. Chase Winovich and Derek Rivers were stellar as well, something I talk about in this breakdown.
It’s even more beautiful from the end zone view.
It would have been nice to just see Dugger play that aggressive on the sack, but he continuously brought the wood on blitz plays and in the run game. As the great Scott Zolak said, “This kid’s got a little bit of lead in his pencil.”
Kyle Dugger was a damn maniac last night. pic.twitter.com/75jcC2j8vD— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 21, 2020
In coverage, Dugger also played well. He actually got the Greg Olsen assignment throughout the second and third quarters, a bit of a surprise after Joejuan Williams looked good against Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki last week. Moving forward it seems like we will see the two of them trade off on the assignment, depending on the week. Las Vegas will be a great test as they have one of the league’s best tight end duos in Darren Waller and Foster Moreau.
Two weeks down, two rookies highlighted. If you saw something that I missed, let me know over on Twitter @KeaganStiefel. We’ll see you next week!