The 2020 NFL season will be one of major change. From the alterations necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic to the commitment for a higher level of sensitivity as it pertains to the condemnation of systemic, and institutional racism, there will be tons of transition.
Because of the league’s attempt to keep people and fans safe from COVID-19, a new rule prohibits scrimmaging between two teams during the preseason. NBC Boston’s Albert Breer shared a memo from the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that was sent to every team in the NFL.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) June 2, 2020
Traditionally, the New England Patriots would have had an inter-squad scrimmage with the Detroit Lions.
Rather than have that opportunity to test and evaluate development in a semi-competitive environment, the Patriots and other teams will need to find other ways to prepare.
Here is a look at the Patriots’ entire preseason schedule, barring the pandemic forcing some sort of delays or restructuring.
- Thursday, August 8 at Lions, 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, August 17 at Titans, 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday, August 22 vs. Panthers, 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday, August 29 vs. Giants, 7:30 p.m.
Now, here is the regular-season schedule with the same disclaimer.
- Week 1 Sunday, September 13 vs. Dolphins at Gillette Stadium, 1 pm ET
- Week 2 Sunday, September 20 at Seahawks, 8:20 pm ET
- Week 3 Sunday, September 27 vs. Raiders at Gillette Stadium, 1 pm ET
- Week 4 Sunday, October 4 at Chiefs, 4:25 pm ET
- Week 5 Sunday, October 11 vs. Broncos at Gillette Stadium, 1 pm ET
- Week 6 Sunday, October 18 BYE
- Week 7 Sunday, October 25 vs. 49ers at Gillette Stadium, 4:25 ET
- Week 8 Sunday, November 1 at Bills 1 pm ET
- Week 9 Monday, November 9 at Jets 8:15 pm ET
- Week 10 Sunday, November 15 vs. Ravens at Gillette Stadium, 8:20 pm ET
- Week 11 Sunday, November 22 at Texans, 1 pm ET
- Week 12 Sunday, November 29 vs. Cardinals at Gillette Stadium, 1 pm ET
- Week 13 Sunday, December 6 at Chargers, 4:25 pm ET
- Week 14 Thursday, December 10 at Rams, 8:20 pm ET
- Week 15 Sunday, December 20 at Dolphins, 1 pm ET
- Week 16 Monday, December 28 vs. Bills at Gillette Stadium, 8:15 pm ET
- Week 17 Sunday, January 3 vs. Jets, at Gillette Stadium, 1 pm ET
Preseason Position Battles to Watch
Jarrett Stidham vs. Brian Hoyer
This is easily the most high-profile position battle to monitor on the 2020 Patriots roster, or throughout the NFL. Almost everyone is watching to see who winds up replacing Tom Brady after he left the Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the offseason.
Some believe Stidham, a fourth-round selection in the 2019 draft, is the man who would be king. However, Stidham threw just four passes during the regular season as a rookie in 2019.
Would it be too much to ask of him to take control of a team that still has legitimate playoff hopes? This issue could be compounded by the pandemic limiting the onboarding process.
Because of this dynamic, some such as former Patriot Rob Ninkovich believes Hoyer will be named the starter to begin the season. While he doesn’t have the arm strength and youth that Stidham offers, Hoyer’s experience and familiarity with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system are all a plus.
It’s safe to say, the Stidham or Hoyer debate will rage for the first weeks of the preseason.
Patrick Chung vs. Adrian Phillips
Chung was recently given an extension by the team, and without a doubt, the Patriots would be thrilled if the 32-year-old can still compete at an elite level. However, if he struggles or cannot remain healthy, the Patriots have signed the talented and versatile Phillips.
As a player who can make an impact on special teams, against the run, or in pass coverage, Phillips should be a major addition to the team. Phillips proved himself to be a multi-faceted asset with the Los Angeles Chargers, but he’s now prepared to take another step in his career with the Patriots.