American Football

The 10 Best Patriots Moments of 2023: No. 8


NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Our offseason countdown continues with the 8th best Patriots Moment of 2023.

It’s almost time to get deep into the weeds with the random thrashing around in the dark making wild guesses better known as “draft prep.” It’s wild how fast the offseason moves.

But we have a bit of downtime here this week, so time to get on with our offseason countdown of New England Patriots moments good or bad. We’re back to the positive memories for this one as we welcome in April.

First, the list so far:

10. The Patriots draft Christian Gonzalez.
9. Jabrill Peppers truck-sticks Davante Adams to set up a Jahlani Tavai interception.

At Number 8, one of the only lasting positives that happened to the Patriots all year.

8. Christian Gonzalez wins Defensive Rookie of the Month.

When the Patriots selected Christian Gonzalez with the 17th overall pick in the 2023 Draft, the thought was that he’d be a Day 1 starter. Gonzalez was widely considered the best cornerback in the draft, and even the most anti-Patriots Boston media folk couldn’t knock the pick.

And while Gonzalez starting right away wasn’t a surprise, how well he played right out of the gate certainly was.

During the month of September, Gonzalez started every game. he recorded 16 total tackles, one sack, one pick, and three passes broken up. His sack came on a DB blitz of Jalen Hurts for an 8-yard loss, and his INT was intended for Tyreek Hill. He became the only rookie in 2023 to defend a pass in the first three weeks of the season, and almost all of his playing time saw him matched up against some of the best receivers in the game. Just a phenomenal start to his career.

It was so phenomenal, in fact, that Gonzalez was named the Defensive Rookie of the Month for September. He became just the fifth player in Patriots history to receive the award, joining Mac Jones (November 2021), Chandler Jones (September 2012), Jerod Mayo (October 2008) and Deion Branch (September 2002). Not bad company to be in, as almost all of those players went on to have solid careers.

Unfortunately, September would be the only full month that Gonzalez played, as he hurt himself in early October and that was a wrap on his season. However, you can’t ask for much more out of a rookie than what he showed in limited action, and this award was the closest thing the Patriots got to any kind of trophy this season, so here it is at Number 8. I probably would have ranked it higher if Gonzalez had been able to stay on the field, but since he only lasted a month, here we are.

That Gonzalez has shown up twice on this list after only playing for a few weeks shows what an impact he made during his all-too-brief rookie season.

(It also shows what a complete disaster 2023 was… but this is the happy part of the countdown. No need to get into that here.)

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