The New England Patriots and the Las Vegas Raiders are playing in the same conference, but have still not crossed paths since November 2017. Back then, the two teams participated in the NFL’s International Series — remember that one? — and played a regular season contest in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca. The Raiders did not stand a chance and were dismantled 33-8.
However, the players scoring the points that day are all gone three years later: Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks and Stephen Gostkowski are no longer with the Patriots, let alone quarterback Tom Brady, while wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have left the Raiders. And those are not the only changes, just think about the fact that the Raiders still called Oakland their home in 2017.
With all that being said, let’s take a look at how the two teams have changed since their trip to Mexico.
The following players from the teams’ last meeting on November 19, 2017, are still with the Patriots:
C David Andrews, RB Rex Burkhead, DT Adam Butler, LS Joe Cardona, CB Stephon Gilmore, DT Lawrence Guy, QB Brian Hoyer, CB Jonathan Jones, G Shaq Mason, S Devin McCourty, WR Matthew Slater, G Joe Thuney, RB James White, DE Deatrich Wise Jr.
Offense: Besides the two biggest changes — Brady and Rob Gronkowski leaving — the Patriots also saw some additional turnover on the offensive side of the ball. Julian Edelman and David Andrews, who missed the game in Mexico because of injury, are back in the lineup, while the wide receiver and tight end positions as a whole saw considerable turnover. Offensive tackles Isaiah Wynn and Jermaine Eluemunor have also not been with the club back in 2017.
Defense: This year’s offseason has impacted the Patriots defense quite a bit, with three of 2017’s starters leaving the club: Patrick Chung opted out, while Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts left in free agency. Furthermore, Duron Harmon was traded. With Trey Flowers, Alan Branch and Malcolm Butler all long gone as well, you get quite a bit of personnel turnover since 2017. Nevertheless, six players still remain that were part of that defense — including three members of the team’s starting secondary.
Special teams: While Joe Cardona and Matthew Slater remain in New England as core special teamers, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Ryan Allen and safety Nate Ebner are no longer part of the equation. Allen left the team in 2019 after losing the training camp competition against Jake Bailey, with Gostkowski and Ebner departing earlier this year.
Coaching staff: While the likes of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels are still running the show in New England, the rest of the coaching staff saw quite a bit of turnover. The most prominent departees are long-time offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who retired this offseason and was replaced by Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo, as well as defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Since Patricia’s departure after the 2017 season, the Patriots are operating with an official coordinator on that side of the ball.
The following players from the teams’ last meeting on November 19, 2017, are still with the Raiders:
QB Derek Carr, S Erik Harris, C Rodney Hudson, G Gabe Jackson, LB Nicholas Morrow, RB Jalen Richard
Offense: While the quarterback, center and right guard positions are still in the veteran hands of Derek Carr, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson, respectively, the team did see plenty of turnover elsewhere. With he exception of reserve running back Jalen Richard, the skill positions look nothing like they did in 2017: gone are starters such as Amari Cooper, Marshawn Lynch and Jared Cook, with players like Henry Ruggs, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller filling their roles on the 2020 team.
Defense: While the Patriots did see a lot of turnover on defense, it does not compare to the Raiders over the last three years: not a single member of the team’s 2017 starting defense is still around — including star edge rusher Khalil Mack. In fact, safety Erik Harris and linebacker Nicholas Morrow are the only two defenders that have already been a part of the team when it traveled to Mexico to take on the Patriots.
Special teams: Back in 2017, Jalen Richard fairly caught one punt against the Patriots. While he is still around as a special teams presence, his role has changed: he is now the team’s primary kickoff returner, with Hunter Renfrow now returning punts. This is far from the only change for the Raiders, who also replaced their kicker, punter and long snapper as well as virtually their entire coverage units.
Coaching staff: Why are there only six Raiders remaining from the November 2017 game versus New England? Because, coaching. Jack Del Rio was fired six weeks after his team’s 33-8 loss to the Patriots, and later replaced by Jon Gruden. Gruden retained just two coaches — Nick Holz (now: quality control offense) and Travis Smith (now: assistant defensive line) — while bringing in his own guys to fill the other spots.