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Positivity Push: Three Patriots Who Have Given Fans Reasons To Smile

It has been a rough year in Foxborough, and this last loss to the Giants may have been the ugliest game of the season. While it's easy to think nothing has gone right, there have been players who have exceeded expectations and give some serious hope for the future. Instead of beating a dead horse with a game recap - let's talk positives.

RT/G Mike Onwenu

In an offensive line whose effectiveness changes by the drive, and whose only consistency is its inconsistency, Onwenu has been a major positive. Last year, and early this year, he flourished as a guard. When he got switched into right tackle, the entire complexion of the line changed.

All of last year and half of this year, right tackle had been a problem, and any team with a decent situation at end took advantage, leading to ridiculous amounts of pressure coming Mac's way. Since Onwenu took over, there has been MUCH less pressure coming from that wing, and better offensive line play overall. The run game has benefited as well, as a result - the duo of Zeke and Rhamondre have been way more effective in the last five games.

Onwenu is a cut above the rest in terms of his footwork, instincts, hand placement, and adaptability. As a locker room leader, he is also extremely valuable - he has the right demeanor and resolve to be an agent for a very positive rebuild in New England. For the Patriots this offseason, focusing strongly on keeping him is going to be of paramount importance.

WR Demario Douglas

The sixth-round speedster was easily the best-value selection of this draft for the Patriots (maybe for the NFL, at this rate). While his size and strength were brought into question heading into this season, his strengths - agility, sure hands, and excellent route running - are qualities that easily translate to this level.

With the injury of Kendrick Bourne, Douglas has by far been the top receiver for the Patriots, with 26 catches in the last 5 games. He has been extremely consistent with his routes, has stymied defenders before and after the catch, and has made few to no mistakes over the last couple of months. His ability to change direction on a dime has, by far, been his most successful trait - even bubble screens to him are a weapon because of his ability to shed tackle attempts behind the line of scrimmage.

Most importantly, he has been a source of explosiveness for an offense that has badly needed it. He's a rookie, so he's not going anywhere anytime soon, but the Patriots need to invest in him when the time comes - he could very well be one of the cornerstones of the offense moving forward.

S Jabrill Peppers

If the offense was doing better, there's a real possibility that we'd be talking about this year as the "Jabill Peppers breakout year". The safety has gone from being a serviceable depth piece in a strong safeties group to a leader of the defense in one season. His ability to both keep his eyes on player and ball and to converge on a play has really ascended this year. Paired with the versatility to flourish in coverage and hitting, his abilities have absolutely come to the forefront this year.

One of the hallmarks of this safeties group for New England, one that I will continue to argue that, as an aggregate, is the best the NFL, is their ability to adapt to linebacker-like and corner-like roles on the fly. Peppers, with his instincts, awareness athleticism, power, and excellent hitting technique, embodies this better than almost anyone in the league. His breakout has been a tremendous boost for the Patriots, and he will need to be a priority as far as players to keep are concerned.

The defense's success as a whole could also merit inclusion in this article. This will go down as a forgotten and unheralded group for two reasons: lack of wins and points off turnovers allowed (0 completed full drives for the Giants yesterday), but Belichick has once again put a great unit together and kept them playing well despite numerous injuries on that side.


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