The Immediate Impact of Losing Stephon Gilmore

Despite being an average 2-2 at the first quarter mark of the season, there has been plenty of optimism about the prospects of the New England Patriots 2020 season.

A new quarterback for the first time in 20 years, zero OTA’s or pre-season to cultivate familiarity and two of those games on the road against two of the best teams in football.

And the honest truth is, they are a yard away from being 3-1 and a negative COVID test from being 4-0.

Yup, just get Cam Newton to produce a negative test and we are back in business baby.

Or positive? I feel like Michael Scott when Kevin told everyone that his skin cancer results came back negative and Michael snaps off his “Livestrong” bracelet thinking it means he has cancer.

Except the news came down the wire today. The Pats first ever Defensive Player of the Year and All-Pro corner, Stephon Gilmore has COVID.

For those of you keeping score at home. It is now unlikely that this coming week the Patriots will have their star quarterback and their lock down corner. Cool. (Oh and practice squad defensive lineman, Bill Murray).

When the Cam Newton news broke my wife even pointed out, “Wow it couldn’t have been literally anyone else on the team? It’s your starting quarterback?”

And it got me thinking. Who would be the other person that I felt under zero circumstances could the Pats lose. And my answer, Stephon Gilmore.

So again, while the Chiefs lose a practice squad quarterback for a couple of weeks, the Patriots lose the best corner in the game, and a game changing quarterback.

Though do those fortunes for Kansas City change?

Focusing on Gilmore, he single handedly changes the Patriots entire defense. He is a guy you can leave on an island for an entire game and never have to worry about him.

When Belichick gameplays for which receiver for Gilmore to take away, that receiver’s day is finished. He’s not making an impact on the game. Outside of oddly enough Davante Parker of all people…

But still, with Gilmore it allows the Patriots defense to be creative. He allows them to blitz with cover zero. He allows them to double team a certain receiver, tight end or even the check down.

That’s not possible without Stephon Gilmore. You think the Pats were doing this in 2011 with Kyle Arrington as their number one corner? That answer is a resounding no.

We will see what the immediate impact of this will look like on Sunday. Luckily for the Patriots it’s against the Denver Broncos and (insert name here) starting for them at quarterback.

I feel it’s safe to assume we will see JC Jackson take over whatever duties would usually be assigned to Gilmore. The one silver lining of this announcement is that it came on Wednesday, giving Jackson some time to prepare for the task.

Jason McCourty would more than likely slide into the number two corner spot.

The question though is do the Patriots leave Jackson on an island like they would with Gilmore? Whether that be Jerry Jeudy or the new out of no where favorite target Tim Patrick. Who has 10 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns combined over the last two games.

Tight end, Noah Fant, is listed as questionable with an ankle but is expected to play. Again we will see some sort of matchup of Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger or JoeJuan Williams on him. Though depending on the package, Williams might end up as your nickel corner.

If you’re worried about Melvin Gordon don’t be. The Patriots have done a good job in bottling him up the two times they’ve faced him. His best game was in 2017 where he rushed for 132 yards on 14 carries and a score. But 87 of those yards came on his first touch of the game for a score. The rest of the day he rushed for 45 yards on 13 touches.

And in the playoffs a year later he had nine carries for only 15 yards. Granted the Chargers were playing from behind for the entirety of that game but still he had no impact.

While the Patriots are widely regarded as having the top secondary in the league, the defensive line has been vastly improved this season. Lawrence Guy has been a prototypical gap clogging, run stuffing defensive lineman. And the develiopment of Deatrich Wise Jr. and Chase Winovich on the edges has been a pleasure to behold.

The pass rush the Patriots have been able to generate without bringing that cover zero blitz that caused Sam Darnold to see ghosts has been impressive.

And Samuel we are all seeing ghosts right now buddy, it’s “Spooky Season.”

I agree with our fearless leader on this one. The Pats should be able to come away with a victory at home, without Newton and without Gilmore against the Broncos.

Denver simply put is just not that good and Belichick should be able to devise some sort of game plan that will take Vic Fangio a couple of weeks to figure out what’s going wrong.

And dare I say it, but Jarrett Stidham didn’t look terrible the other night against Kansas City.

A pick six on an inexcusable drop by Edelman and the other pick was in garbage time and a young quarterback mistake. It happens.

I don’t want to dare yet look ahead to the San Francisco game because there are plenty of what if’s to be decided before that one. Is Newton back? Is Jimmy G healthy? Who will we inevitably lose next to COVID? I just pray that it is not the irreplaceable Damiere Byrd.

First Cam, now Gilmore these are certainly gut shots for a Patriots fan. But one final silver lining for you. At least this is happening in September/October and not December/January.

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Connor Ryan (@connoryan68/@PodVerbalCommit/@YourFantasy_CGS)

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