The New England Patriots rolled out their 2023 team for the first time publicly. The hype train is already in high gear. Observers are positively giddy about that first non-contact practice.
After all, it’s to be expected. Writers who need to write and talking heads who need to talk have to amp up anything and everything that may look the least bit positive.
Mac Jones is already back to his 2022 top-shelf self. Tyquan Thornton a 2022 second-round bust excelled and now must be a star based on a few catches in practice.
The sky is the limit for Patriot Pollyannas who are chomping at the bit to see the brilliance in the mundane and the great in the ordinary.
The reality of the situation will emerge later, separate from the hyper-sonic hype train that’s pulled out of the station and is tracking more speed than a Japanese Bullet Train.
New England Patriots are what they are
Hope springs eternal in every pre-season for every Boston sports team in those who look at their home teams through rose-colored glasses.
The top indicator for New England Patriots faithful is the mere presence of newly-minted Offensive Coordinator, Bill O’Brien.
They feel he’ll make all the difference this season for an offense that couldn’t get out of its own way in 2022, and hasn’t made dramatic changes to get better in key positions, e.g. offensive tackle and tight end.
Patriot observers should keep in mind as difficult as that may be, that O’Brien will not throw a pass, won’t catch one, and won’t block or run the ball. Pretty safe to say that’s a given. But he’s immediately going to make a totally dysfunctional offense 100 percent better. Right?
Now, having a competent OC is going to be an improvement. Anyone would be better than what they rolled out last season in Bill Belichick’s offensive coaching blunder-fest.
Hyping New England Patriots obvious choices
NESN’s Dakota Randall hyped quarterback Mac Jones:
"Again, you don’t want to go overboard with these practices. But Jones was the clear top quarterback — although Bailey Zappe did see some noteworthy time with the offensive regulars early in practice — and played well during competitive drills. The third-year pro looked calm, decisive and in control of the offense. It was a decidedly uncontroversial day for Jones, which at this point is a victory in and of itself."
After throwing a few passes without pads without having any defensive players bearing down to tear him to pieces, Jones just has to emerge now as a star. The problem is, Jones can’t get out of his own way if there is a rush and is more likely to turtle than escape it.
Matt Dolloff of 98.5thesportshub.com wrote this about the center of attention:
"If you were hoping for a quarterback competition in camp for 2023, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Mac Jones got the big majority of the reps with the starters in team drills, some 11-on-11 and others 7-on-7."
Initial observations indicate that a favorite in this space, dual-threat quarterback Malik Cunningham is looking way up at Jones plus in the quarterback competition (if he’s even involved in it at all). He played receiver for most of the practice.
The hope here is that the electric Cunningham gets the third QB spot and is utilized right away as the team’s designated third-and-long quarterback.
He can immediately spell the lead-footed Jones until he gets the opportunity to play the position. The thought here is if he ever does, he may never give it up.
Another New England Patriots draft pick hyped by NESN was Marte Mapu, the injured (torn pectoral muscle) linebacker/safety who was a reach of monumental proportions in the third round.
He was actually out there, on the field, and taking real reps. Hurrah! In addition, the second-round bust from the 2022 draft, Tyquan Thornton, put on some weight.
Now, he’s going to be a thrill-a-minute top receiver after catching a monster total of 22 passes with two TDs and 247 yards in 2022.
We’ll see what eventuates as the summer trudges on. But after the first open practice as the old song says, “Everything is beautiful …”