The New England Patriots entered the 2023 offseason with deficiencies at offensive tackle and did far too little to rectify them. Two of Boston’s best Patriots beat writers, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry of NBC Sports, have noted those deficiencies.
In a recent YouTube podcast entitled, “Offensive tackle is growing concern for Patriots“, Curran and Perry highlighted an increasingly more obvious defect as pre-season activities continue.
This space has been emphatic that the offensive line is the most important unit on the field after the quarterbacks. In addition, the offensive left tackle (OLT) position is the second most crucial single position after the starting quarterback on the entire team.
Curran and Perry were spot on in their analysis and it’s worth taking a look at the position again now since it threatens to derail their entire offense once again in 2023.
New England Patriots’ offseason moves at offensive tackle were inadequate
While pundits praise the Patriot defense to the hilt (we’ll see if all the hype is warranted later on), the flaws pointed out by Curran and Perry remain an issue, similar, as Curran nicely pointed out to the 2022 edition of the team.
That edition crushed any chance the team’s offense had of advancing to a playoff game. Their OLT, Trent Brown, was inconsistent, and when injured, there was no ready substitute available. There still isn’t.
Brown frankly looked out-of-shape in his recent brief appearance at OTAs. If he underperforms or can’t play, the offense will crash once again. There is no one in reserve ready to replace him except waiver-wire level players like Calvin Anderson, a Patriot reject in 2019.
At offensive right tackle (ORT) they signed 34-year-old Riley Reiff to man that position. He’s a stop-gap solution, yet, the team hasn’t provided anyone to potentially take over for either him or Brown, both of whom are out of contract after this season.
Patriots whiffed at OT this offseason
Phil Perry succinctly pointed out an important aspect related to the deficiencies at offensive tackle. That was the Patriots team employing pocket passers (aka Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe) who require strong tackle support.
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“Pocket passers” in this space’s parlance, refers to the lack of “escapability” from the pocket. Deliver a clean pocket and they may do well. If you don’t, they will flop again in 2023.
In the offseason, the team went bargain basement, signing Reiff and Anderson and re-signing Sean McDermott. One is a decent backup type, Reiff, and the other two are waiver-wire-level players.
After passing up top tackle options in free agency like Orlando Bloom Jr. and Mike McGlinchey, the Patriots then still had an opportunity to remedy those deficits in the draft.
They didn’t. In fact, they neglected to draft even one tackle, absent possibly guard, Sidy Sow, who hasn’t played tackle in 4 years. The New England Patriots did what they usually do in the draft, they flopped.
Not signing a top tackle and drafting one or two additionally is a mistake that comes close to personnel malfeasance. It’s an inexcusable omission that could very well wreck the 2023 season as it helped to do in 2022.
Maybe they’ll luck out but don’t count on it. Championship or even good offenses and teams are built in the offseason. At offensive tackle, the Patriots failed in the 2023 offseason miserably.