New England Patriots 2015 regular season awards
The New England Patriots 2015 regular season is finally over, and it was an interesting one to say the least. It started off as a so called, “Scorched earth campaign” in an attempt to pay back all the naysayers that questioned the character of the Patriots franchise quarterback. However, this season in a blink of an eye turned into a survival tour after Halloween. Key Patriots players started going down quicker than any fan or coach could handle and it lead to an abysmal final six weeks of the season. Now we turn our focus onto the postseason, but before that it is time to hand out some awards for the Patriots regular season, good and bad.
Coach of the year: Josh Boyer, Cornerbacks. Going into this season, the cornerback depth chart for the Patriots was scary to look at and it appeared as though the team was going back to their 2009-2012 method of bend but don’t break on defense. That was not the case, as the Patriots cornerback position was steady all year. The amazing part is the two top corners were Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan. Butler was the team’s fifth string corner last season and is now a Pro-Bowler, and Logan Ryan was extremely inconsistent in his first two seasons as a professional. Now they are a legitimate cornerback tandem and cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer needs some accolades for that.
Rookie of the year: Malcom Brown. None of the rookies on the Patriots roster were really significant impacts on the team, except for Malcom Brown towards the end of the season. His season was not the typical one for a rookie. Most rookies get out to a hot start and then hit the, “rookie wall” in late November like Chandler Jones has done in his first four seasons. For Brown it was the opposite. He didn’t receive too many reps in the first half of the season, but due to the vast amount of injuries in the second half Brown has gotten his chance and he’s delivered with 48 tackles and two sacks this season for the first-round pick.
Special team’s player of the year: Stephen Gostkowski. This one is a no brainer for sure, even though Ryan Allen certainly earned his money in the second half of the season. Stephen Gostkowski was 33 for 36 on the season and was perfect when it came to extra point attempts, from 32 yards out. Gostskowski was extremely important in a very hard fought win in week ten at Metlife Stadium against the Giants. Down by two points, Gostkowski nailed a 54-yard field goal with one-second left to secure the victory for the Patriots. Gostkowski also drilled a 47-yard field goal in the snow in Denver as time expired to send the game to overtime in week 12. Clutch kicks have defined Stephen Gostkowski’s season, and that will also be key in the postseason.
Defensive player of the year: Dont’a Hightower. Despite only playing in 12 games during the regular season, Dont’a Hightower is the best player on the Patriots defense because when he is not out there the defense is completely different. When he isn’t out there Jamie Collins gets exposed like he did against Miami in week 17. Collins is forced to play a different role which is heavily predicated on stopping the run, and he hasn’t been able to be as productive in that role. When Hightower is out there the whole defense becomes more versatile and the pass rush is very effective. He will be essential in the Patriots playoff run.
Offensive player of the year: Tom Brady. Usually I would discount Tom Brady from this category because it would be to obvious, but this year it is very warranted for Brady to get the nod. With the decimated offensive line, it is pretty astonishing that they were able to get to 12-4, and also be in positons to win almost every game that they lost. It is tough to think that many other 38-year old quarterbacks could sustain the hits that Brady took this season and still keep moving forward. You can definitely say that the most valuable on the offense this year has been Julian Edelman because of how bad the offense has been since he went down in week ten, but without the leadership and clutch play by Brady this team would be in bad shape.
Biggest disappointment: Brandon LaFell. Without a doubt, Brandon LaFell was the biggest disappointment of the 2015 season for the Patriots. Tom Brady’s targets that included Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski all went down with injury at different times, and it gave Brandon LaFell his chance to take over. Nevertheless, he completely fell flat on his face. In 11 games he finished with only 37 receptions as opposed to his 74 in 16 games last year. It’s not just that he’s not producing, it’s that it looks as if he isn’t giving it his all. Against Miami last week on a key third down play in the third quarter, Tom Brady unleashed a deep ball to LaFell that for once was fairly accurate. However, instead of going up and fighting for the ball like a good receiver would LaFell just let it drop and allowed the defensive back to easily break up the pass. When you don’t give a full effort you deserve criticism.
In the end, the Patriots 2015 regular season certainly did not end on a high note and it is leaving many fans unsure of their Super Bowl chances now, and that is warranted. The offensive line looks to be a detriment to the team right now, and fans need to hope that the return of Julian Edelman and the quick passing game will help hide the lack of production up front. However, we have seen teams back into the playoffs and still have success. The 2012 Baltimore Ravens lost four out of their last five games and still won the Super Bowl knocking off the Patriots in the process. Therefore, all is not lost in Patriots land just yet.