New England Patriots Offensive Report Card
The Patriots report card will review each offensive position group for the New England Patriots and give them a grade. The starters and depth players are all subject to grading, depending on how often they play. Based on the grades, fans should know what they need going into the off-season.
Patriots Missing The Playoffs
After losing the Week 18 game in Buffalo, New England missed the playoffs at 8-9. This came after a promising 2021, where rookie quarterback Mac Jones shined under Josh McDaniels. They will look to make it back to the playoffs in 2023.
Quarterback is the most confusing position on the roster. Mac Jones did well in his rookie year, but not so great this year. If Mac had the play-calling he deserved, I think the team would have made the playoffs. However, playcalling was not the only issue, Jones also had his problems. He had some turnover and injury issues early in the season. Jones had seven turnovers in his first three games and one drive in a fourth, in contrast to five in his final 10. He missed three games and was benched after six throws in the Chicago game, leading Bailey Zappe to take over. Bailey Zappe is a fourth-round rookie who took over after Mac and Brian Hoyer’s injuries.
Zappe came in and made people want him to take Mac’s job, which was blasphemy from the start. He played decent, going 2-1, against bad teams. However, starting him over Mac was never the move and the Patriots learned that in the Bears game. Even though he played one good drive that game, it was not enough to impress Bill Belichick for him to keep the job over a healthy Jones. In that game, he had two interceptions as well as a fumble loss.
The quarterback position is the most polarizing for the Patriots, as fans want Tom Brady to sign back in Foxborough. Even though the team has not seen much success without Tom, it is not smart for Mac’s future to go after a middle-aged man at quarterback who is coming off his worst season in years. Mac is the future, as of now, so developing him with a good coaching staff will bring the Patriots to the playoffs once again.
The running back position was easily the best on the offense, very talented group of players. Rhamondre Stevenson came in as a back that split time with Damien Harris but took over the starting gig quickly. Stevenson looked great all year, on the ground and through the air. He gained a combined 1,461 yards and five touchdowns in all seventeen games. Stevenson was by far the best player on the offense this year, even if he had some fumbling issues toward the end of the year. The Patriots will look for him to be the feature back during his rookie contract. There is also fourth-year running back Damien Harris. Harris has been injury prone his whole career and showed it again this season. After a fifteen-game and fifteen-touchdown season in 2021, Harris only played in 11 games and was not too productive.
Harris played a bigger role earlier in the year, but it dwindled after Stevenson’s surge as the head of the backfield. He is a free agent this offseason and most likely will not be re-signed. Last but not least is the two rookies, Pierre Strong Jr. & Kevin Harris. The two showed flashes late in the season, both scoring a touchdown against Arizona. However, they did not play much so there really is not anything to judge but they look to be good backups to Stevenson for the years to come.
Receivers have been the most infuriating position of all for the Patriots. Jakobi Meyers has been the most productive receiver for New England since the Cam Newton days and has developed a real connection with Mac Jones. Meyers had 804 yards and six touchdowns this season and outside of the mishap against the Raiders, he had a great year given the circumstances. After him, there was recently acquired Devante Parker, who had 539 yards and three touchdowns in thirteen games. He was injured at times but when he played he showed some promise on jump balls and contested catches, but I don’t know if he was worth a third-round pick. He really did not do much outside of the occasional jump ball.
Behind those guys, there is Nelson Agholor, free agent, Kendrick Bourne, and Tyquan Thornton. The three did not do too much, Bourne and Thornton due to underutilization and Agholor was not good for the Patriots. With a trade most likely coming for a top wide receiver, some of the players in this group will play much better next season.
The Tight end group for the Patriots is kind of weird. After aggressively trying to acquire two tight ends in 2021, the moves that were made did not work out in 2022. Hunter Henry had a great 2021, but a very disappointing 2022. He had 100 fewer yards (509) and seven fewer touchdowns (two) on nine fewer catches (41). Henry was not the same touchdown machine that he was last year. As the main tight end in the Patriots’ notorious two-tight end offense, or at least attempting that offense, he did not produce as expected.
That leads to Jonnu Smith, another 2021 signee. Jonnu has disappointed both seasons, partially his fault and the fault of the system itself. As mentioned, New England is known for a two-tight-end system but it has not been used as much, at least in the passing game. The usage of Jonnu has not been as expected. He is supposed to get the ball in space to get yards after the catch, but that has not been the game plan. Hopefully, with Bill O’Brien, that changes.
The offensive line is very confusing for New England. While it is PFF’s eleventh-ranked unit, there are some issues. The interior is amazing, with Michael Owenu, who ranked third amongst guards in PFF grade, David Andrews, and rookie Cole Strange. Andrews is a veteran leader for the trenches, Owenu is a great young piece, and Strange is an up-and-coming guard. Cole had a weird rookie season filled with ups and downs. At times he looked like he was worthy of being picked in the first round, while at others, not so much.
Even though the interior line played great, the tackles were disappointing. Trent Brown’s switch to left tackle was horrible. Brown had thirteen penalties and gave up eight sacks and thirty-nine pressures. The move to left tackle was mind-boggling from the start and it ruined his reputation in the league. The right tackle position was split between Conor McDermott, Yodny Cajuste, and Isaiah Wynn. Neither of the three played well in their time starting. The plan for the offseason is to get a left tackle so Trent can go back to his natural position.
Patriots Offense Overall Grade
The Patriots’ offensive report card overall is a C.