Over the years, Patriots fans have been accustomed to the team performing better than nearly every other team in the league, entering the second half of the season well above .500 and appearing on track for another deep postseason run.
Unfortunately, during the last few seasons, that has been a thing of the past as New England transitions to what life is like after Tom Brady. That is especially true this season, as they enter Week 10 with a 2-7 record, with significant ramifications on the horizon if more losses are added.
But despite the losing record and the belief that a team that continues to lose doesn't have well-performing players, there are plenty whose performances have stood out above the rest for good or bad reasons. That's why those players should be acknowledged with midseason awards, to give credit where it's due.
Given their current circumstances, it would be too easy to bring attention to all the bad that is going on with the Patriots this year. Negativity and pessimism dominate the news and comments on social media, so it's time to discuss the better parts of the team overall.
Among the awards that should be handed out through the first nine weeks is Rookie of the Year, which rightfully goes to Christian Gonzalez.
Rookie of the Year (so far): Christian Gonzalez
This was an obvious one, right?
Since being drafted 17th overall earlier this year, Patriots fans have remained overjoyed to have cornerback Christian Gonzalez on the team. He was a day-one starter in what appeared to be a solid defense, and from the first game of the season, he looked like a guy who had been playing the game for many years.
The explosive skills he showed throughout the summer were on display immediately, which became even more impressive given which receivers he was tasked with covering.
In week one, the focus was on A.J. Brown, who even seasoned veterans have trouble slowing down. Gonzalez was successful in doing that, limiting Brown and fellow receiver DeVonta Smith to just seven receptions on 11 targets for 84 yards. He also recorded seven combined tackles, one pass breakup, two tackles for a loss, and even a sack on the ever-elusive Jalen Hurts.
It was a memorable debut for a rookie cornerback in quite some time, and the good news for the Patriots was that he would only get better as the weeks went on.
In the first divisional matchup of the season, Gonzalez was given two more top receivers in the league, covering Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. While playing 100 percent of defensive snaps in the game, the cornerback allowed just three catches on five targets for 32 yards, six combined tackles, a pass breakup, and his first career interception.
The following week was the first road game of the season, and Gonzalez was covering Allen Lazard and Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets for most of the game. He allowed just two catches on three targets for a measly 19 yards.
He was well on his way to earning Defensive Rookie of the Year, and it was only Week 4. But unfortunately, it all came to a screeching halt when he suffered a shoulder injury against the Cowboys, which ended his season far too early.
Other than a promising season cut short being devastating, the Patriots' secondary has been unable to yield the same success they had when Gonzalez was in the lineup. It was clear they got fortunate having him fall into their lap after trading back in the first round, making those who passed on him almost certainly regret their decision.