Most teams around the league seem to have at least some sense around who will be the lead playmaker in their offense for 2021. The New England Patriots‘ situation, however, is a little more complex.
Even with the new additions of players like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Nelson Agholor this offseason, there really isn’t a clear “No. 1 guy” for the Patriots.
As of now, it’s more of just a collection of solid weapons in Cam Newton’s arsenal, rather than the luxury of having one dominant offensive player.
Regardless, it’s an improvement from last year’s group of guys.
There’s a multitude of different directions that Bill Belichick and the Patriots could decide to go if the roster remains the way it is as of now. There could be up to four players on offense that could possibly take on this “lead role” that’s up for grabs.
Let’s take a look at each of these four players and see what they have to offer.
The Patriots’ running back group is a pretty talented set of players; with the likes of Sony Michel, James White, and new rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, this is one of the deepest RB units in the league.
However, Damien Harris is the most likely RB to get the bulk of the carries in 2021, and could potentially be a key component to the Patriots’ offense.
With Michel’s fifth-year option being declined, along with White being brought back on just a one-year contract, Harris looks to be the long-term future of New England’s running back situation, and for good reason.
In just 10 games in 2020, Harris managed to put up almost 700 rushing yards on an impressive five yards per carry. This is exactly what you love to see out of a young, up-and-coming back like Harris.
The issue with Harris potentially being the top offensive option is how Bill Belichick operates with his running backs. There aren’t too many 1,000+ yard rushers in New England’s recent history. Typically, Belichick uses his running backs by committee, with around three or four players handling the rushing load.
Therefore, the idea that Harris would be more of a workhorse RB, without allowing Michel and White to get many touches in the backfield, seems a little unrealistic.
You also can’t forget the fact that Cam Newton also managed to pick up 500+ rushing yards, along with the majority of rushing touchdowns for the Patriots, in 2020, limiting Harris to picking up just two on the season.
While it would be nice to see Harris explode into a dominant RB for the Patriots in 2021, it’s not the most realistic scenario by any means. Although, with a top offensive line and a proven effective rushing offense, this approach may be pretty powerful for the New England offense.