It’s safe to say the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers look a tad bit different since their last meeting on October 1, 2017. In the 49 months since they last took the field against each other, both teams have moved on at quarterback, turned over their kicking operations, and seen big changes on their coaching staffs and rosters.
Keagan, won’t you tell us all about the changes that have been made since that game? I sure will! Here is how the Patriots’ and Panthers’ rosters have changed since their last meeting.
The following 13 players from the last meeting with Carolina 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, ST Harvey Langi, RB Brandon Bolden, LS Joe Cardona, OG Ted Karras, DL Deatrich Wise Jr.
Offense: David Andrews and Shaq Mason are the lone returning offensive starters from New England’s last matchup with Carolina. 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 Adam Butler, Trey Flowers, Elandon Roberts, and Malcom Brown have long since moved on. Stephon Gilmore was in his first season with the Patriots, but will be playing on the opposite side this time around.
Special Teams: Long snapper Joe Cardona is the lone holdover specialist from the Patriots’ last meeting with Carolina. 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 4 players from the last meeting are still on the Panthers’ active roster:
LB Shaq Thompson, RB Christian McCaffrey, LS J.J. Jansen, OT Taylor Moton
Offense: Christian McCaffrey, who is currently on Injured Reserve, and starting tackle Taylor Moton are the only two offensive returners for Carolina since their last matchup with New England. Former Patriots legend Cam Newton started that game at quarterback for Carolina and led them on a game winning drive, but has since been replaced by another former Patriots legend in Sam Darnold. Devin Funchess, Kelvin Benjamin, and Chris Manhertz have since been replaced by the likes of D.J. Moore, Robbie Anderson, and Ian Thomas.
Defense: Since the arrival of new head coach Matt Rhule, (more on him later) the Panthers have undergone a youth movement on defense. The only returning defender from 2017 is starting linebacker Shaq Thompson. Derrick Brown, Jeremy Chinn, Daviyon Nixon, Yetur Gross-Matos, Kenny Robinson, Bravvion Roy, CJ Henderson, Brian Burns, and old friend Stephon Gilmore have all been added in the past 24 months to make for a new and exciting defense. Gone are the days of Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly.
Special Teams: J.J. Jansen is the only holdover from Carolina’s 2017 specialist group. Graham Gano, who hit a game winning field goal in that last matchup with the Patriots, is now with the New York Giants, while former punter Matt Palardy is now with the Miami Dolphins.
Coaching staff: As we mentioned earlier, Matt Rhule has taken over for former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who is now with the Washington Football Team. His coaching staff includes the likes of offensive coordinator Joe Brady, defensive coordinator Phil Snow, special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn, and assistant quarterbacks coach Matt Lombardi, who is brothers with Patriots wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi.