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These Patriots Aren’t All Over The News, But They’ll Help Beat The Browns

A few names are swirling in the media circles above the rest, but there are some Patriots that aren’t getting their due but are quietly having huge impacts on the team. They’ll do the same Sunday.

Certainly, a closer look into the Patriots’ game tape makes it clear that there are a lot more than just the ten or so names circulating around that are impacting the team. Here, I look into three that stand out to me.

LB Jahlani Tavai

When I rewatched some of the defensive footage for the Patriots this season, it was obvious that #48 was flying around the field quite a bit. Tavai doesn’t have the flashiest play style, nor is he the fastest or strongest player on the field. But it’s obvious that he’s a good, textbook linebacker. He has the perfect balance of speed, athleticism, and explosiveness, and can thrive in pass-rushing and running situations.

More impressive than just his raw speed is his game speed, i.e. his ability to quickly get from point A to point B (point B usually being the ballcarrier) very quickly despite the traffic. His awareness and football IQ of course bring this out even more. He can shed blocks and get to the quarterback as well. While he has only had nine solo tackles, he has assisted on ten more bringing him to an impressive 19 for the season, and that too while splitting snaps, including a sack of Mitch Trubisky.

While he hasn’t been making them all on his own, he has been there to assist on so many plays, and will certainly be needed against a Browns offense with a lot of playmakers.

G Mike Onwenu

He’s certainly not an unheralded player in general, but this year, he hasn’t been part of the media narrative for the Patriots’ 2022 season. It’s a simple reason: he hasn’t had to. When it comes to offensive lineman, no news is good news, and even though the unit is still getting into its best form, Mike has been solid from day one. He has held his footing, and often has been able to move his defender forward and create space for the running game.

A good portion of the Patriots’ offensive line has struggled on and off with QB protection and penalties, but Onwenu has been the opposite. One penalty, zero sacks allowed, and quite literally, the pillar of this offensive line. Look for him to play a big role in terms of protecting Bailey Zappe, allowing Rhamondre to run more comfortably and all in all elevating the offense.

ST Brenden Schooler

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Brenden Schooler is the next Matthew Slater. Having played at both receiver and safety positions, he has a unique awareness of the field, and the speed to back that up. He’s been trained to be obsessed with the ball, whether it’s monitoring it on defense, or catching and carrying it himself. All this in combination has made him a fearsome player.

On the field this season, he has been among the first Patriots to any play, on both sides of punt and kick coverage, and has been huge for special teams all year. He has downed multiple punts deep in Patriots territory and even recovered a game-altering Gunner Olszewski fumble against the Steelers. He’s also an exceptional blocker and has the terrifying ability to make multiple blocks on a play.

His natural senses are scary on their own, and with a mentor like Slater to guide him while he gains experience, he is going to just get better and better. Look for #41 to be flying across the field whenever possible against the Browns.

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