2020 was an uncharacteristic season for the New England Patriots in many ways, but one specific part of their developmental program went exactly according to plan: they found another hidden gem offensive lineman.
Drafted in the sixth round out of Michigan, Michael Onwenu was a dream Patriots guard from nearly his first snap, proving that continuity on this line was being manufactured by someone other than the departed Dante Scarnecchia.
Entering his second season, the team has attached higher expectations to Onwenu, relying on him to seamlessly fill Joe Thuney’s shoes, one of the few big-money free agents the Pats actually lost during this productive offseason.
Surely, Onwenu believes he can do it, but he doesn’t seem to believe it’ll be a seamless transition from an excellent rookie year to a dominant Year 2.
You see … Onwenu doesn’t seem to think he was all that good last year.
Outsiders seem to agree he was among the biggest stars of the entire rookie class, let alone those in New England’s backyard. Not the man himself, though. Room for improvement.
Patriots G Michael Onwenu doesn’t think he was as good as you think he was.
Alright, well … room for improvement, right? Let’s work on that.
We love a Patriot who’s able to somehow convince themselves that “doing their job” at a high level just isn’t good enough. If an objective B+/A- registers with you mentally as a “C,” that’s an easy justification for continuing the grind.
As Onwenu put it, his biggest faults involved being slightly unprepared for key high-pressure moments.
"“I mean, it was a lot I messed up on. I’m trying to take in everything and trying to learn everything.”“Just a lot of stuff, I mean a lot. A lot of the time, I was nervous being in high stakes moment or just playing for the first time. So I mean, not necessarily not believing in myself, but just being sure of myself and knowing I know the answer is just about doing it.”"
If that was the case … seems like more of a “you” issue than an “us” issue. What showed up on tape was just fine, but if a player feels as if he needs to get more comfortable in the spotlight, he’s probably right.
Ideally, this season Onwenu finds himself in some higher-pressure contests, considering this year’s group of Patriots is more aspirational than last year’s crew, which mostly spent the season finding themselves without many of the leaders they’d gotten so used to.
Perhaps, if this big season ends where we expect it to, Onwenu will consider bumping up his self-assessment to a generous “B”.