The New England Patriots regular season is officially in the books. While it was a bumpier road than usual, the Patriots finished the year on a high note to earn an 11-5 record and a first-round playoff bye. Of course, this success would not be possible without key players like quarterback Tom Brady and team rushing leader Sony Michel. With the regular season officially in the books, let’s check out how the statistical leaders of the 2018 Patriots performed throughout the year.
Tom Brady, Sony Michel Top New England Patriots Statistical Leaders
2018 Final Line: 375/570 (65.8%), 4,355 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions.
The fact that this stat line represents a down year speaks to how dominant Brady normally is. Excluding 2016, when he only played in 12 games, Brady’s 4,355 passing yards are his lowest since the 2014 season. His 29 touchdowns are his fewest since 2013, and his 11 interceptions are his most since 2013.
That said, statistics can only show so much. Brady, age 41, played with a constantly-rotating supporting cast that offered little week-to-week continuity. Julian Edelman missed the first four games of the season, Josh Gordon only played in 10 games as a Patriot, Rob Gronkowski was clearly hobbled for the majority of the season, and last year’s top receiving duo of Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola both spent 2018 out of New England. Considering all this turnover, it makes sense that Brady’s final numbers would dip a little. Additionally, most of Brady’s interceptions weren’t his fault.
Lazy analysts will tell you the 2018 season is proof that Brady is already starting to fall victim to his advanced age. However, the numbers and the situation around him beg to differ. Even with several moving pieces and a less-than-stellar supporting cast, Brady still managed to produce like a top-10 quarterback. He may not be 2016 Brady anymore, but the greatest quarterback of all time isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
209 carries, 931 rushing yards (4.45 YPC), six touchdowns
He came close, but the rookie running back couldn’t quite crack the 1,000-yard rushing mark. That said, 2018 was still a great season for the former Georgia Bulldog. Playing in 13 games, Michel’s 931 rushing yards is the most by a Patriot since LeGarrette Blount recorded 1,161 rushing yards back in 2016.
Michel gave Patriots fans a lot to like during his rookie campaign. Despite missing the entirety of the preseason with a knee injury, Michel made his NFL debut in Week Two against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After a rough start to the season, Michel went on a three-week stretch of dominance from Weeks Four to Six. Over that timeframe, Michel recorded 316 yards and four touchdowns on 67 carries. His fantastic season was slowed down when he suffered another knee injury, but the rookie was ultimately able to return for the second half of the season.
In all, Michel finished with five, 100-yard rushing games in his first season. He also had another game where he recorded 98 yards on the ground. Barring health, Michel should be able to build on this successful regular season and carry New England’s rushing attack throughout the postseason.
74 receptions, 850 yards, six touchdowns
2018 wasn’t vintage Edelman by any means, but the Patriots had to be happy with how their top receiver performed. Edelman, age 32, was coming off an ACL injury and had to serve a four-game suspension to start the season. Despite that, Brady’s trusted slot receiver finished the year with the team lead in receiving yards.
After taking a game or two to find his rhythm, Edelman has a four-game stretch where he recorded 28 receptions for 363 yards and one touchdown. At his best, Edelman looked as quick and explosive as ever while providing a much-needed sense of reliability for Brady. Edelman dropped more passes than you’d like, but that’s always been part of the deal with Edelman.
Overall, Edelman performed as well as one could hope from a receiver on the wrong side of 30 coming back from an ACL injury. Edelman ended his season on a high note, recording five receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s regular season finale. Edelman should carry this success into the postseason for another deep January run.
87 receptions, 751 yards, seven touchdowns; 94 carries, 425 yards (4.52 YPC), five touchdowns
James White exceeded expectations in all the right ways for the New England Patriots. Entering the season as part of a committee, a series of injuries forced White to play a big role in the offense. White shined with the increased responsibility, putting together the best statistical season of his career.
While he slowed down from his record-breaking pace early in the season, White still managed to set some franchise record. His 87 receptions and 751 receiving yards were both the most by a running back in the Bill Belichick Era. Considering the great receiving backs that came before him, White’s historical season is nothing to scoff at.
White slowed down later in the season, recording ten or fewer touches in six of the last seven games of the season. However, this was probably done in an effort to preserve White. White dramatically exceeded his season-high in touches, so the coaching staff likely wanted to keep him fresh for the postseason. Just like Danny Amendola before him, look for the Patriots to let White go wild during the postseason.
47 receptions, 682 yards, three touchdowns
None of New England’s big offensive stars had a more disappointing season than tight end Rob Gronkowski. After openly contemplating retirement throughout the off-season, Gronkowski battled through serious injuries for the duration of the 2018 season. His 2.9 receptions per game and 42.6 yards per game his lowest totals since 2010, and his three touchdown receptions were the lowest total of his career.
Gronkowski showed flashes of greatness throughout the season, but he’s not the player he once was. That said, he still finished the year as one of the top-10 tight ends in most statistical categories. Additionally, Gronkowski still provides above-average blocking in both the run and the pass game. In Week 17, Gronkowski successfully blocked defensive end Leonard Williams on multiple occasions. He may not possess his old game-breaking ability, but Gronkowski can still be a nice role player in this offense.
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