The New England Patriots’ 2020 season was a disappointment but it ended on a positive note: the team of head coach Bill Belichick was able to beat the New York Jets 28-14 on Sunday to improve its final record 7-9. But while the Patriots played a pretty good game overall and saw some contributions from all three phases, they also suffered multiple injuries along the way.
With that said, let’s take a look at the Patriots’ injury situation after their season-ending win over New York.
S Adrian Phillips: Just four plays into their first defensive series, the Patriots already lost one of their starters when Phillips stayed on the ground after 9-yard run. He did walk off the field slowly but under his own power, but still headed straight to the blue medical tent and later the locker room. Phillips was initially announced as questionable to return because of a hip injury, and later ruled out for the remainder of the contest.
LB Chase Winovich: Coming out of the locker room at the half, Winovich’s right hand was heavily wrapped after he had suffered an apparent injury at one point over the first 30 minutes. He was seen looking at his hand at least twice in the second quarter — first after a tackle on a short run — and was then not on the field for the opening series of the third. Despite the injury, however, Winovich finished the game with a 90 percent playing time share.
WR Damiere Byrd: Byrd was hit hard at the end of a 4-yard end-around run midway through the third quarter, and did not get up following the collision. He did eventually walk off the field on his own but did not return to the game after leaving for the locker room: the Patriots quickly ruled him out to reenter the contest because of a head injury.
OT Justin Herron: Just one play after losing Byrd, the Patriots’ left tackle also played his final snap. While Justin Herron did not suffer an obvious injury, the rookie was not on the field for the next series and instead announced as questionable to return because of an ankle issue. Herron, who had played all 41 offensive snaps to open the game, spent the remaining 24 sitting on the bench with his right leg suspiciously outstretched.
DT Adam Butler: On the very next drive, New England suffered another high-profile injury when defensive tackle Adam Butler hurt his thigh. The 26-year-old stayed on the ground following a short run, but was able to walk off the field. His injury was later announced as a thigh issue, and even though he was listed as questionable to return, he did later reenter the game and finish with 49 of a possible 65 defensive snaps played.
P Jake Bailey: After the Patriots went up 21-14 in the early fourth quarter, they did not send punter Jake Bailey onto the field to perform his usual duties as a kickoff specialist. Instead, the team went with place kicker Nick Folk. However, it does not appear as if an injury was the reason for the change: Bailey was on the field for the extra point kick preceding the kickoff and later performed another kickoff after New England increased its lead to 28-14.
What this means for the Patriots
With no more games to be played for the Patriots this season, the team can now focus on getting back healthy again until the first phase of offseason workouts gets kicked off in April (if the Coronavirus pandemic allows it to take place as planned, that is). With that in mind, two of the injuries suffered on Sunday stand out in particular: Adrian Phillips’ and Damiere Byrd’s.
While it remains to be seen how serious Phillips’ hip injury turns out to be, getting hurt in the last game is never encouraging when it comes to the preparation process for the next year. Depending on the severity of the ailment, after all, it could force a player to miss parts of the offseason workouts while focusing on a recovery process. That said, this is all just speculation at this point in time and there is no telling whether or not Phillips will miss any time after hurting his hip versus the Jets.
The same has to be said about Byrd’s head injury. While it cannot be said how serious it turns out to be, it might impact his personal outlook headed towards free agency. It seems unlikely, though, that that will be the case: even if undergoing concussion treatment, Byrd should be back at full strength by the time free agency medicals usually take place.
The status of all the other injuries, as well as those suffered by the rest of the Patriots’ roster at one point this season, remains up in the air as well. As noted above, the team will likely not return to work before April.