3 standout stars showed hope for future in Patriots’ loss to Commanders

How the mighty have fallen.

A Bill Belichick-coached team has lost a game to the Washington Commanders, led by second-year quarterback Sam Howell, who is essentially in his first season as a full-fledged starter.

The Patriots are now 2-7 and racing the other bottom-dwellers for a top-five draft pick in 2024.

The game on Sunday came down to the wire with the Patriots failing to come away with a victory at home in a 20-17 loss. In an otherwise disappointing performance, there were at least three players that stood out for the Patriots in the game.

These standout stars provide some hope for the future in a dismal present right now in New England.

First Star: Ja'Whaun Bentley

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

With 10 tackles and two sacks, the stats were kind to Bentley this week, but what was more impressive was his zone coverage skills and his open field tackling.

For a team that had its issues tackling all day, Bentley was the lone bright spot and has started to get more designed blitzes as the team tries to replace the pass rush production of Matthew Judon, who is currently on injured reserve.

Bentley was all over the field in the game, finishing with a team-high 10 solo tackles and two sacks. An eye-popping performance is what you expect from one of your best defensive players when coming off a loss, and Bentley did not disappoint.


Second Star: Rhamondre Stevenson

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Stevenson had the most explosive play of the day for the Patriots with a 64-yard rushing touchdown. Another vanilla offensive week for the Patriots ended with Stevenson rushing for 87 yards on nine carries, along with catching four passes for 42 yards.

If it wasn’t for Ja’Whaun Bentley’s major impact on defense, Stevenson would be this week’s first star.

The versatile running back is one of the Patriots’ best skilled players, Whenever the team needs a play to be made, he’s talented enough to step up as both a running back and receiver to deliver more often than not.

Third Star: Demario Douglas

Billie Weiss/Getty Images
Billie Weiss/Getty Images

With DeVante Parker out and Kendrick Bourne on season-ending IR, Demario “Pop” Douglas was tasked as the Patriots No. 1 receiver. He had five catches for 55 yards and drew a lot of attention from the Commanders’ secondary.

Although the Patriots do not rely on a true X receiver to be the focal point of the offense, they use their Z or their slot as the primary focus, and Douglas took a ton of Bourne’s routes this week.

Douglas is still a rookie and will need to get a better feel for spacing, but he is the Patriots’ best receiver. Most importantly, he showed that he can still get open, even when everything around him is failing.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire