Training camp is still a month away yet poor offseason decision-making by the New England Patriots threatens to derail the 2023 season before it’s even begun. There are big problems on the offensive side of the ball that need to be rectified now.
Championship or even just good teams are drawn up in the offseason in the draft, free agency, or by trades by NFL personnel departments. Success in the offseason brings success in the regular season. There’s no great revelation there.
Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs annually are a step ahead of other teams making solid offseason decisions regularly. As for the New England Patriots, that’s not so much the case.
Absent Tom Brady now for the fourth year, the team is even more dependent on super offseasons with that great safety valve out of the picture. Even new Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien can’t help there.
On offense, the team now has two key positions that are deficient and if not rectified in style before camp begins, could signal a last-place finish in the AFC East.
New England Patriots offensive tackle deficiencies
The New England Patriots’ offensive tackle position was their greatest offseason deficiency. The team went on the cheap in free agency, eschewing signing a top immediate starter like Orlando Bloom Jr. or Mike McGlinchey and instead signed bargain basement types to fill that glaring hole.
They also failed to draft even one OT with any of their 12, 2023 draft picks. It’s already looking like bad decision-making and it’s now being flagged by top Patriots beat writers extensively.
Trent Brown has been a virtual no-show at OTAs and looked like, well, like he’s not in tip-top condition. In addition, 34-year-old Riley Reiff, ostensibly signed to start immediately at right tackle has underwhelmed.
All that’s left are backup types, journeymen Calvin Anderson and Sean McDermott, and maybe rookie guard Sidy Sow. That’s a disastrous situation in waiting. The Patriots need to make one or two moves to bolster offensive tackle now or the season may be tanked before it begins.
New England Patriots running back situation is weak
The New England Patriots allowed solid running back Damian Harris to skate in free agency. While oft-injured, when he played Harris was a very good back who complemented Rhamondre Stevenson nicely.
The team signed former 1000-yard back James Robinson to replace Harris. He didn’t even make it to training camp evidently due to injury concerns. This leaves the position perilously thin.
The backups are last season’s draft picks, fourth-rounder Pierre Strong Jr., and sixth-round big-back Kevin Harris. Neither did very much in 2022 with limited opportunities.
Absent that oft-expected second-year leap by one of them, the position is another one that could derail the season. It’s not a pretty picture.
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Any injury to Rhamondre Stevenson will make the Patriots offense a passing one. The optics are terrible. With a dearth of offensive tackles to keep clean pockets for immobile Mac Jones, the passing game will be a wreck too.
All this adds up to quite a gloomy outlook for the New England Patriots offense in 2023 absent some strong moves to clean up these two shortcomings.
The New England Patriots need to be decisive now to add one or two offensive tackles presumably by trade. In addition, they need to add a running back, perhaps like Dalvin Cook to the mix.
Absent these moves, expectations should be low for an offense that flopped in 2022. We’ll see if the Patriots step up to the plate and addresses those needs. The team needs to do so quickly.