The New England Patriots already had a stacked team heading into 2019, but their roster got even better when they signed Antonio Brown as a free agent. Brown might be a headcase, but he’s one of the most talented receivers in the league. Bill Belichick knows how to control crazy characters, and if Brown stays in line this could be the best Patriots team in history.
Obviously, this is based on nothing more than looking at the roster on paper. The games still need to be played, but this roster matches up well to any of New England’s previous elite teams. The best collective units from this two-decade run of dominance are probably the 2003, 2007, and 2014 incarnations of the Patriots. On paper, you could easily make the argument that the Patriots are just as good or better than those old teams of legend.
2019 New England Patriots Could Be Best Team Ever With Antonio Brown
Tom Brady is still around, and he’s as good as ever. The 42-year old quarterback still has plenty left in his tank and should remain a top-five quarterback in 2019. Brady’s numbers took a dip in 2018, but that was due to an underwhelming supporting cast more than a physical decline by Brady. His arm and brain are as good as ever, and he can still make just about any throw in the book. Despite his advanced age, Brady should be an MVP frontrunner throughout the season.
Antonio Brown is no Randy Moss, but he’s about as close as you can get. Everyone knows how good Julian Edelman is, and having Josh Gordon as your third wide receiver is just lunacy. Even if Gordon can’t stick around for a full season, Demaryius Thomas looks ready to go after tearing his Achilles late in the 2018 season. Factor in the inevitable return of first-round N’Keal Harry and you have five starting-caliber receivers with high upside. How any team is expected to stop these receivers and James White out of the backfield is beyond me.
The offensive line doesn’t have the best depth, but it should be a top-five unit if everyone can stay healthy. Shaq Mason is the best guard in the league, and Joe Thuney isn’t far behind him. Marcus Cannon is an above-average right tackle and 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn looked great in the preseason. The only question is at center, where Ted Karras will take over for an injured David Andrews. Karras is no Andrews, but he should be a starting-caliber center. Dante Scarnecchia is a wizard, and he’ll find a way to get the best out of Karras.
Of course, New England’s running backs are also great. The offensive line should produce all the holes that 2018 first-round pick Sony Michel needs to be a 1,000-yard rusher. He’s reportedly improved as a pass-catcher, which should make the offense less predictable. James White is a top-five receiver back, and Rex Burkhead is a solid dual-threat when healthy. If injury strikes, third-round pick Damien Harris should be able to handle an expanded role.
The only weakness on the offensive side of the ball is at tight end. Ryan Izzo is an unproven commodity and projects as a blocking specialist. While you could certainly do better than Izzo, it doesn’t really matter when there’s this much talent at all the other positions. That said, Rob Gronkowski has hinted at a return and could come back midway through the season. If he returns and plays at a 2011-2017 level, then there’s simply no way to stop this offense.
Let’s start by breaking down the best secondary in football. Stephon Gilmore is coming off the best season of his career, earning First-Team All-Pro honors while finishing as Pro Football Focus’ top cornerback. While he could regress (it’s hard to play that well for an extended period), he’s still going to be a top-five cornerback. Behind him are four starting-caliber cornerbacks in J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, and Joejuan Williams. Jackson and McCourty are both fantastic CB2’s, while Jones is one of the best slot cornerbacks in the league. Williams is Brandon Browner all over again and has the ability to take away larger receivers and tight ends. The safeties, while not as deep, are still ridiculously talented. Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are still good starters, and Duron Harmon could start on most teams. Terrence Brooks looked great in the preseason and Obi Melifonwu offers fantastic upside.
The linebackers are the best since those stacked early-dynasty defenses. Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy are both above-average starters with the versatility to line up inside or outside. Jamie Collins looked like his 2015 self in the preseason, and Ja’Whaun Bentley looked like a star in the making last year. Elandon Roberts is probably the best fifth-string linebacker in football and could probably start for half of the teams in the league.
The defensive line is probably the “weakness” of the defense, but that just speaks to all the surrounding talent. Michael Bennett essentially replaced Trey Flowers while the rest of the defensive line should be just as good or better than 2018. Lawrence Guy is a top-10 interior lineman and Danny Shelton is a solid early-down run stuffer. Byron Cowart and Chase Winovich looked like studs in the preseason while Deatrich Wise, John Simon, and Adam Butler provide top-level depth.
How Good Can the 2019 New England Patriots Team Be?
There really is no ceiling to this team’s potential. The offense and defense are as good as any unit in recent memory and most positions have great depth. I’m not going to predict 19-0, simply because so many things have to go right in order for that to happen. New England will probably lose one or two fluke games, but they should be the best team in the league and clear favorites for Super Bowl 54.
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