Patriots Insider: What recent losses mean for team’s future

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 24: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts during the second half of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 24: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts during the second half of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots bumbled away two games that were eminently winnable the past two weeks, first against the Las Vegas Raiders and then the much more formidable Cincinnati Bengals. One might even say the cliched, they snatched either a tie or loss from the proverbial jaws of victory in those tilts.

Whatever you want to term them, they have been devastating to the 2022 team’s goal to at least replicate (if not better) the 2021’s Wild Card playoff appearance. At the moment, it looks like they will fail as they are stumbling inexorably and precipitously back into mediocrity.

Punting away two possible victories that could have sent you to a record of 9-6 instead of the current 7-8 is a major calamity for this 2021 playoff team. What this means is that a playoff appearance is unlikely and a dramatic overhaul of the team’s greatest weakness, its languid offense is imperative in the offseason.

Whether this current Patriot management team is able to accomplish this task is subject to conjecture. Their track record is not encouraging. So let’s make some suggested augmentations to the team’s languid offense that just might help them avert some additional future disasters.

The New England Patriots need a major offensive overhaul

New England Patriots
Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

The Patriots, since the departure of the best quarterback ever, have struggled. In 2020, Cam Newton did a terrific job getting this team to 7-9. In 2021, rookie quarterback Mac Jones did a nice job securing a playoff berth before both he and the team faded and were blown out by the Buffalo Bills.

Now the 2022 Pats seem to be likely to miss the playoffs altogether, primarily but not exclusively due to a deficient offense. With that prospect in mind what has to be done in the 2023 offseason to make this offense productive again?

The first element of any successful offense is the quarterback. For two decades there was no issue with that position in New England. Now there are plenty of questions. Mac Jones didn’t experience that vaunted “second-year leap” Bill Belichick talks about. Instead, he regressed.

The bets are that he will remain the quarterback in 2023. But he may have a real challenge on his hands with this year’s surprising rookie fourth-round draft pick, Bailey Zappe.

Yet, the best options for New England are actually outside ones at the position. The two optimum choices are: re-signing Tom Brady should he leave Tampa Bay; or, paying Lamar Jackson whatever he wants and bringing this exciting dynamo to Foxborough. Neither is likely. Jones or Zappe will likely be the contenders.

The offensive line also needs a major overhaul after the team ripped their own once formidable line to shreds last offseason. The major emphasis has to be offensive tackle. Depth is also severely lacking.

New England Patriots receivers and tight ends are lacking

“Lacking” is putting the situation of these two units mildly. They basically stink. These are seemingly perennial woes in recent seasons: wide receiver and tight end. The New England Patriots should clean house in the wide receiver room. They are not even second-rate.

Nelson Agholor, DeVante Parker, and Kendrick Bourne (if they don’t intend to use him) can all go. It also inexplicably appears they won’t re-sign their best receiver, Jakobi Meyers. That’s puzzling. They should.

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Rookie Tyquan Thornton, a second-round draft reach has been a bust thus far but he’s not going anywhere. Fill the need in free agency with a top receiver or two. JuJu Smith-Schuster is probably the best free-agent option. He’s caught 74, with three TDs and 877 yards this season with Kansas City. He’s still only 26 years old.

Pay the best available and avoid spending lots on mid-range flops like Agholor. A mid-round draftee is also advisable. Then, go the undrafted free-agent (UDFA) route to fill in. That’s how they landed Meyers and UDFA is the team’s best personnel attribute.

The last part of the offense that needs shoring up is the tight end. The position has flopped. Big and costly free agent signings Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry have underwhelmed. The Patriots should move on from one or both of Henry and/or Smith, then sign a top free-agent tight end or get one by trade, and/or draft one later on.

There are several decent ones available in free agency. Top free agents include Evan Engram from Jacksonville who has 68 catches on the season, Hayden Hurst from Cincinnati, and Robert Tonyan Jr. from Green Bay.

Next. NFL Rumors: Patriots need a ‘strong option’ in Bill O’Brien back as OC in 2023. dark

These are some suggested remedies required in light of the New England Patriots recent fall from a potential playoff team to an unlikely one largely due to a feeble offense.

What do you think the Patriots need to add on offense in 2023? We’d like to hear.