Quarterbacks (passing):

F)

- Cam Newton had a historically poor passing season ranking 28th out of 35 qualifying QBs in passer rating and 30th of 33 qualifiers in QBR. He also became the first QB in NFL history to throw at least 300 passes and finish the season with more rushing TDs (12) than passing TDs (8). Newton’s final line of 2657yds/8td/10int was buoyed by his most efficient game of the season in Week 17 against the listless Jets.

Jarrett Stidham apparently was not good enough at any point during the season to push Cam, even with Newton failing to throw for 100 yards in one-quarter of the games.

Brian Hoyer was a nightmare in his one appearance of the season, Week 4 @ Kansas City, and frankly, the best passes of the year came from Jakobi Meyers, who finished the year 2-2 for 43 yards and 2 TD.

Rushing attack:

B-)

- The Pats scampered for over 2300 yards and 20 TD, while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Damien Harris, Newton and Sony Michel combined for 1732 yards and 15 TD (12 by way of Cam). The Pats rushed for 147 yards per game but did so without the benefit of a workhorse back, outside of 2-3 games from Harris when he was healthy.

In the grand scheme, it wasn’t a fantastic season on the ground but rather looked the part on a team that couldn’t throw the ball to save their lives.

Receivers:

D-)

- Jakobi Meyers (59 catches, 729 yards) and Damiere Byrd (47 catches, 604 yards, 1 TD) are the only reason this group did not receive a failing grade. And let’s be honest, even their seasons weren’t great for a team’s leading efforts. They were more suited to be the 3 and 4 receivers on a solid team.

The receivers combined for a whopping 4 TD’s – N’Keal Harry (2), Byrd (1) and Gunner Olszewski (1).

Julian Edelman, who played his final snap in October, still finished with more catches and yards than N’Keal Harry, who can now officially be labeled as a bust.

Tight Ends:

F)

- Absolutely awful. Ryan Izzo led the way with 13 catches while Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, taken at 91st and 101st overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, combined for 5 receptions, 55 yards and 1 TD (3/45/1 of which came in yesterday’s season finale).

O-Line:

B-)

- Solid, but again, not great. Arguably still the strongest unit on the Patriots’ offense, the O-Line propelled the run game but struggled at times against the pass rush. Now, a hefty portion of that blame needs to be placed on the receiver’s inability to get open plus Cam’s holding of the ball for far too long in the pocket. The 37 sacks allowed by the group ranked bottom-10 in the league.

D-Line:

C-)

- 18.5 sacks and 33 tackles for loss are among the highlights of the group. But the Pats were shredded by the opponent’s ground game all season long to the tune of 131 yards per game, and that starts with the hogs in the trenches.

Linebackers:

C-)

- I challenge you to name three Patriots’ linebackers. Ja’Whaun Bentley had a solid year with 90 tackles in 13 games. Terez Hall came on the scene with 50 tackles over the final eight games. After that? Not much. Not much at all. There weren’t many run stoppers in the bunch and even fewer pass stoppers.

Defensive Backs:

B)

- Easily the best corps among the team’s skilled positions, the DB’s were the backbone of the defense, but not as good as last season.

J.C. Jackson erupted with 9 INT’s, Devin McCourty featured each week, Kyle Duggar was a bright spot with the 2nd round pick getting a fair amount of playing time. Jonathan Jones = consistently good. Adrian Phillips, who led the team with more than 100 tackles, was easily most underrated player on the team. Phillips had to play a majority of the season at linebacker due to the Pats’ shortcomings at the position.

Special Teams:

A)

From first time Pro Bowler Jake Bailey, to the steady leg of Nick Folk to the explosive return capabilities of Gunner, Special Teams was the brightest spot for this Patriots’ team in 2020. Sadly, that tells you all you need to know. Plus, with the GOAT Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel, who was among the league leaders for special teams tackles, you’d be hard pressed to find a better group from top to bottom in the league. At least the Pats did something right in 2020…

All told, the Patriots earned a C when using the standard GPA grading method. I guess that's fair, as 7-9 to 9-7 is probably "C-worthy" in the NFL. But this was not a mediocre team. At times they were flat out bad. I'll keep them in the C-range, but I'm going to bump them down to a C-minus overall for the year.