Patriots: What happened to Josh Uche’s impact in 2020?

Patriots rookie LB Josh Uche was a healthy scratch in Week 1 and we have so many questions for the coaching staff.

The New England Patriots cruised to a Week 1 victory over the Miami Dolphins, as they opened up a comfortable two-score lead heading into the fourth quarter. The team’s game plan ultimately proved to be foolproof, as it won the time of possession battle by over nine minutes.

As far as big takeaways are concerned, Cam Newton looked excellent in his Patriots debut, totaling 75 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. He was also incredibly efficient through the air, finishing 15-of-19 for 155 yards and zero turnovers.

Outside of three penalties, a few drops and a lost fumble, there wasn’t much to complain about from the Patriots’ performance. However, we do have one question regarding a member of the defense who was receiving rave reviews throughout training camp.

After being widely tabbed as a rookie who could make an instant impact in 2020, edge rusher Josh Uche was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game.

The fact that inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo noted that Uche has performed well and shows up to practice with a professional attitude indicates that he was a little taken aback by the 2020 second-round pick being left off the game day roster.

All reports out of training camp suggested Uche was playing a prominent role on the defense and was impressing the coaching staff with his speed and versatility off the edge. It’s not like the Patriots did an unimpeachable job at getting after Ryan Fitzpatrick, either. Though the defense forced three interceptions, it only managed one sack.

For a player who posted 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss over his final two seasons at Michigan, it’s extremely puzzling why he wasn’t out there in Week 1. We know that head coach Bill Belichick has a tendency to ease rookies in, but the former Wolverine really seemed poised to squash that narrative.

The fact that ESPN Patriots insider Mike Reiss, who’s as reliable and knowledgeable as anyone in the business, is unsure as to why Uche wasn’t active proves that we aren’t crazy in pondering what went into the decision.

As history has taught us, there’s normally a method to Belichick’s madness, so we’ll be patient before coming down too hard on him and the rest of the coaching staff. However, if the rookie OLB is a healthy scratch for Week 2 and no real explanation is provided, we will have no choice but to let loose.