New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 13: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 13, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

It’s time for the first “Ups & Downs” of the 2020 season. Let’s get to the good (and bad) from the Patriots’ season-opening win over the Dolphins…


QB Cam Newton. An impressive debut for Newton in what looks like a run-heavy Patriots offense, at least to start the season. A lot of RPOs and heavy personnel groupings. Newton rushed 15 times for 75 yards and two rushing touchdowns. And while he wasn’t an air show in the passing game, he was efficient – 15-for-19, 78.9 percent – and didn’t commit a turnover. The Pats like to move the ball and score regardless of how it looks, and the new run-heavy attack is 1-0.

OLB Chase Winovich. An active and productive day up front for Winovich, who will be a key piece of a defense rebuilding its front-seven on the fly. Six total tackles, including one for a loss, and a QB hit for the sophomore out of Michigan. He was consistently disruptive, even when not filling the stat sheet.

DB Joejuan Williams. Williams’ transition to safety looks complete. He played well matching up against Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki and had a key pass breakup against him. Williams clearly has the size and length to match up against big pass-catching tight ends, but the execution was there in this game, too.

OL Mike Onwenu. The rookie out of Michigan looks like a versatile, useful piece right out of the gate for Bill Belichick. He checked in as an eligible tight end on a handful of snaps, played the goal line on Sony Michel’s touchdown, and even spelled Jermaine Eluemunor at right tackle a little bit. Perhaps the Patriots unearthed a gem on the O-line in the fifth round this year.


WR N’Keal Harry. The second-year wideout made five catches on six targets for 39 yards in his 2020 debut. But he’s “down” in this one because of a potentially costly fumble that he made just a yard or two away from scoring a touchdown. The fumble flipped momentum at the time and kept Miami in a game that wasn’t quite as close as the 21-11 final indicated.

WR Damiere Byrd: He’s the clear No. 3 receiver in 11 personnel, but Byrd went without a target anyway. And he muffed the first punt return of the game for the Patriots, which had a chance to change the whole complexion. Not much to show for it in Byrd’s Patriots debut.

K Nick Folk. The veteran made his extra points, but totally shanked a 45-yard attempt. No. 2 to the Harry fumble for the most potentially costly mistake of the game. The hope is Justin Rohrwasser emerges in the coming weeks, because it’s a problem having to depend on Folk to kick longer than 40-45 yards.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at