The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons look very different from their last meeting on October 22, 2017. In the 49 months since they last took the field against each other, both teams have instituted major roster changes, turned over the majority of their coaching staffs, and even made some aesthetic alterations as well.
Now I'm not one to waste you beautiful people’s time so let’s jump right in and see how the Patriots and Falcons have changed over the past four years.
The following 13 players from the last meeting with Atlanta are still on the Patriots’ active roster:
C David Andrews, OG Shaq Mason, DT Lawrence Guy, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Dont’a Hightower, S Devin McCourty, ST Matthew Slater, ST Brandon King, RB Brandon Bolden, LS Joe Cardona, OG Ted Karras, DL Deatrich Wise Jr., LB Harvey Langi
Offense: David Andrews and Shaq Mason are the lone returning offensive starters from New England’s last matchup with Atlanta. Tom Brady, Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, and Joe Thuney have all since moved on, while James White and Chris Hogan are currently out of the game altogether —albeit for different reasons.
Defense: The Patriots have four starters that carry over from that 2017 squad in Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, and Lawrence Guy. Deatrich Wise Jr., was a rookie reserve player on that team who has turned into a consistent starter as well. Other players like Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Adam Butler, Trey Flowers, and Elandon Roberts have long since moved on.
Special Teams: Long snapper Joe Cardona is the lone holdover specialist from the Patriots’ last meeting with Atlanta. Nick Folk was kicking for the Buccaneers in 2017, while Jake Bailey was in college punting for the Stanford Cardinal. They’ve since replaced Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen who handled kicking and punting duties throughout 2017. Matthew Slater and Brandon King both made contributions on special teams back then as well.
Coaching staff: Despite Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and Matt Patricia — the head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator from the 2017 season — still being around, the Patriots’ staff looks vastly different than it did in 2017.
Steve Belichick is the defacto defensive coordinator, taking over for new special assistant Matt Patricia following his departure for the Detroit Lions. Carmen Bricillo has taken over for legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Demarcus Covington has replaced Brendan Daly as defensive line coach. Mick Lombardi took over for Chad O’Shea as wide receivers coach. Mike Pellegrino replaced Josh Boyer as cornerbacks coach. Jerod Mayo is now the inside linebackers coach, replacing current Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, while current New York Giants head coach Joe Judge was replaced by Cameron Achord as special teams coach.
The following 5 players from the last meeting are still on the Falcons’ active roster:
QB Matt Ryan, LB Deion Jones, DT Grady Jarrett, OT Jake Matthews, LS Josh Harris
Offense: Quarterback Matt Ryan returns to Atlanta for his 14th season. He is joined by Jake Matthews as the only offensive players to stick around in Atlanta from 2017, when they last played New England. Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, Alex Mack, and Tevin Coleman have all since moved on, paving the way for the likes of Calvin Ridley, Cordarrelle Patterson (formerly of the Patriots), Mike Davis, and Kyle Pitts.
Defense: Super Bowl stud Grady Jarrett will return for his seventh season in Atlanta, being joined by Deion Jones as the only defensive players to stick around in Atlanta from 2017, when they last played New England. Sensing a pattern? Former starters Vic Beasley, Robert Alford, and Keanu Neal are all gone, while A.J. Terrell, Dante Fowler Jr., and former Patriot Duron Harmon have taken their places.
Special Teams: Veteran long snapper Josh Harris is the only returning specialist for Atlanta, as the aging duo of Matt Bosher and Matt Bryant couldn’t hang on from the 2017 team. Younghoe Koo and Dustin Colquitt have taken over the kicking and punting duties since.
Coaching staff: Former head coach Dan Quinn was relieved of his duties following the 2020 season and has since been replaced by former Titans’ offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Former Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees serves as Smith’s defensive coordinator, while Dave Ragone is the offensive coordinator, and Marquice Williams handles the special teams duties. Former NFL quarterback T.J. Yates serves as a passing game specialist for Atlanta.