Most Important Patriot Players Heading Into 2017
I think we all could agree that the Patriots most important player heading into this year would be Tom Brady by far.
However, that would be the case for almost every team in the NFL. Losing your franchise quarterback is essentially a season-ender. Just look at the Raider’s last season, had a chance to take home-field advantage from the Patriots but a Derek Carr injury derailed that train and they were one and done in the playoffs.
While excluding the quarterback position I have picked three players whom I believe are the most important for the Patriots this season. What makes these players so important is the value they bring to the team along with their profound effect on the success of the team. And here they are in no particular order.
Dont’a Hightower – LB
Dont’a Hightower is the signal caller for the defense and was voted co-captain for the first time last season. Hightower is a prototypical Belichickian linebacker in terms of size, strength, and a high football IQ. He is excellent against the run and the Patriots defense visibly struggles when Hightower is not on the field. He is also good in pass coverage as he allowed 7.1 yards per catch which was best among all linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus. The linebacker also plays his best in the biggest moments, most notably last year when he strip-sacked Matt Ryan on 3rd down in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl. It is extremely vital to the success of the Patriot’s defense that Hightower stays healthy and leading the front seven this season.
Devin McCourty – DB
The way Devin McCourty defends center field for the Patriots is crucial to how they want to play on the defensive side. That means not giving up the big plays through the air and make the opposing offense earn it. You can argue that no one has been better at this than McCourty. He often doesn’t get the credit that he deserves mostly because of the lack of interceptions (only one last season) but his impact cannot be seen on just the stat sheet. But you don’t have to tell his teammates that. He has been voted as a co-captain for six straight seasons. The bottom line is McCourty helps everybody in the secondary be better. He gets them in the right positions and provides the last line of defense which results in the erasing of big plays for the other team. According to PFF, McCourty had the highest pass coverage rating in all of the NFL at 91.9.
Julian Edelman – WR
The heartbeat of the team and Tom Brady’s favorite target, Julian Edelman has climbed his way up the depth charts in New England to become a legend in Patriots nation. He has become extremely valuable to the offense and it showed when he was forced to miss some games down the stretch in 2015 due to a foot injury and the offense struggled. Edelman was able to bounce back and have another stellar season with almost 100 catches and over 1000 yards. And like Hightower, Edelman seems to play his best when the money is on the line as he is one of 14 players in NFL history with 1000 receiving yards in the playoffs, according to NFL research. His catch in the Super Bowl will go down as one of the best in NFL history. He will once again be relied on in crucial situations being Tom Brady’s favorite target.
Thank you, now we’re onto more sports talk.