Projecting Christian Gonzalez’s stats for the Patriots in 2024 

Dislocated shoulders are tricky things to recover from, so let's hope 2023's first round pick can stay in one piece this year.
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Great Expectations isn’t just a book Charles Dickens wrote about social mobility. According to Barry Schwartz, the author of Paradox Choice, they are also the reason for greater disappointment. 

It was a great disappointment that Patriots fans were robbed of seeing Christian Gonzalez finish his rookie season, but that's the only thing disappointing about Gonzo. As heartbreaking as his injury was, there is no reason not to have great expectations for his sophomore season.

While some osteopaths believe that there’s a stronger chance of a relapse when younger people dislocate their shoulders, Gonzalez has said his injury is in the past. The Patriots might still want to treat him with kid gloves in preseason, though. 

Gonzalez has the potential to be the Patriots’ brightest star in 2024. And while he is on the field, opposing quarterbacks will have to think twice before releasing the ball.

Christian Gonzalez's rookie year is a solid blueprint for his 2024 season

While you can extrapolate data from the three and a half games Gonzalez played in 2023, it’s such a small sample size that the results wouldn't be accurate. Considering that and leaning heavily on a vibes-based approach to performance analysis, Christian Gonzalez’s second year should look something like Trevon Diggs’ 2021 season. 

Physically, it’s a good comparison, too. They are both 6-foot-2 and of similar weights: Diggs is 195 pounds, and Gonzalez is 205. 

Like Gonzalez, Diggs didn’t play every game of his rookie season, but Stef's younger brother only missed four games. He missed just one the following season as he blossomed under Dan Quinn's guidance. 

As a rookie, Diggs played 758 snaps for Mike Nolan’s Cowboys defense in his sophomore season, which increased to 1,015. As a result, the Alabama product's three interceptions as a rookie increased to 11! 

NFL quarterbacks will always want to test out a young corner like Gonzalez, but his closing speed, ability to go up and get the ball, and ability to undercut routes will surprise plenty of experienced signal callers. 

Gonzalez isn’t going to break up all the passes thrown his way; he’s not Revis Island (at least not yet). While the Patriots coaches won't want him to freelance, he does read quarterbacks better than most, and they should encourage him to do that. But when he doesn’t get to the right spot, he is going to give up chunks of yards just like Diggs did in 2022. 

But as he showed when he intercepted Tua Tagovailoa back in Week 2 even when Gonzalez looks out of position he can still make a play. 

According to the former Oregon Duck’s 2023 statistics, if he had played all 17 games, Gonzalez would have ended his rookie season with four interceptions, 13 passes defended, and 72 total tackles. But that’s not all. He would have also made four sacks, four QB hits, and four tackles for a loss.  

Those numbers seem woefully low, apart from the sacks and the tackles for loss categories.  

There's a lot to look forward to from Gonzalez this year

Hopefully, the Patriots' defense won’t have to be on the field as much as it was in 2023. Even if the Patriots offense doesn't dominate possession, DeMarcus Covington's unit can help itself out by making more than 18 turnovers this time out. 

Gonzalez will play a significant role in that; he should have eight interceptions in the regular season. He will also force two fumbles while making 77 tackles.

But the Patriots don't have a great record of returning interceptions for scores, so "The Quiet Assassin" as Deatrich Wise Jr. calls him is only likely to rack up 178 return yards. He could score a touchdown if he manages to pick off a pass near the opponent's endzone. The Texas native will successfully defend 18 passes in his second year.

The former Colorado Buffalo will also give up yards, though. Expect him to concede 583 yards on 53 completions from 93 targets and miss 10 tackles.

If Matt Judon stays healthy, everyone will have a chance to record more sacks while offenses focus on the veteran. Gonzalez’s size and acceleration will see him making six sacks this season. 

The former high school wide receiver could even make more tackles for a loss in 2024 if Covington blitzes more often (the Patriots only blitzed on 35.2% of their snaps in the first ten weeks of the 2023 season).

With Marte Mapu and Sione Takitaki able to drop into coverage, there’s no reason not to send DBs on a blitz. Gonzalez could make as many as eight tackles for a loss, and if he and others are causing chaos in the opponent's backfield, he could even recover two fumbles.

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