Patriots’ Season in Review

Simon Bleier '24, Contributing Writer

If I had to describe the Patriots’ season with one word, it would be frustrating. At their very best, I felt this team could be a dangerous playoff team, but most of the time, they looked like they were fighting for a top ten draft pick. By the end of the season, they fell somewhere in between, sporting an 8-9 record.

Overall, the Patriots appeared to be out of sync; even stringing multiple first downs together tended to pose a challenge. Whenever they had a good play, it looked like it was an accident. 

It was evident that Mac Jones and Matt Patricia had utterly different views on how to run an NFL offense. The offense was awful, at best, and I cannot count how many times the Pats would go three-and-out with the sequence: run, run, and screen. 

Cardinals DC, Vance Joseph, described the Patriot offense as looking “like a defensive guy calling offense.” Joseph later apologized for his comment; however, I think he could not be more correct. Patricia seemed to be trying to stall the Patriots’ every drive with weak runs and obvious screen passes. 

Along with hurting the team, Patricia stunted Mac Jones’ possible growth as a second-year quarterback with the constant short passes. Because of the play calling, Jones was not able to showcase his ability. This lack of use was also unfavorable for the organization because they could not see the Alabama product’s true potential as a quarterback in the NFL. We saw the organization’s uncertainty at the quarterback position with the whole Zappe saga. 

I still need to find out if I believe in Jones or not. He finished 18th in passing yards and in the bottom third of quarterbacks for touchdowns and interceptions. Jones’s best statistic was his completion percentage, where he tied for 16th; however, it could be more of a product of the playstyle, which featured a plethora of short passes. Nonetheless, the situation for Jones was not ideal, with subpar wide receivers and awful play calling. This next season will be a “make or break” year for Jones, but he should have some more help, so only time will tell.

In addition to the abysmal offense, special teams for the Patriots was also frustrating. Belichick-coached teams have been known for their special teams; however, this year it was a disaster outside of the the emergence of rookie Marcus Jones, who received first-team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl selection. The Patriots’ struggles with this unit came to fruition in the last game of the season against the Bills, where they gave up two touchdowns on kick returns. Special teams arguably lost the Patriots this game, and in a must-win situation, their playoff hopes as well.

Given all these negatives, it is hard to look on the bright side. Yet, there were some things to be optimistic about, specifically on the defensive end. The Patriot defense was second in the NFL in forced turnovers and led the league in defensive touchdowns. The defense also featured multiple young impactful players, such as rookie defensive backs Jack and Marcus Jones and third-year players Kyle Dugger and Josh Uche. Also, defensive end Matthew Judon tied for fourth in sacks and was selected for his second consecutive Pro Bowl. This defense was impressive, but it was not enough to carry the Patriots through their offensive woes.

With the 14th pick in the upcoming draft, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots will try to turn things around and make it back to the playoffs and their accustomed winning culture. Nonetheless, the 2022-2023 season was indeed one to forget.