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Patriots Offseason: Simulating A Proper Course To The Next Opener

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

The Patriots head into 2023 looking for answers and trying to address the issues that left them out of the playoffs. Even the organization isn’t truly united on what the ideal offseason would look like, but there isn’t just one path to the right team makeup. I’m going to put on my proverbial Patriots’ GM hat and chart my own path.

The Coaching Staff’s Ideal Path

The Patriots’ offensive coaching situation absolutely needed to change. Looking at the talent and potential on the roster, and the diametrically opposed poor production all around, it was clear that Matt Patricia was extremely far from the answer. The Patriots are already, however, making strides in the search for an offensive coordinator and interviewing candidates that are true offensive minds.

Of these candidates, Bill O’Brien would make the most sense for the Pats right now. He has offensive experience in the Patriots’ coaching tree, and more importantly understands what is needed to facilitate a rebuild, and his efforts with both Penn State and Houston showed his ability to handle turbulent situations well. His coaching history is a who’s who of offensive versatility, something that would be the polar opposite of what they had this year. Furthermore, his strict coaching methods would be a great fit for the Patriot way and what Mac Jones is looking for in an offensive mentor.

On the defensive side, extending Jerod Mayo made perfect sense, and the assistant head coach title will allow him to have an increased role in the defensive affairs, and more importantly, test his abilities to zoom out and do more big-picture coaching, to see if he can one day become the future of the franchise. Where do the rest lie in this picture?

Joe Judge would thrive in his former role of special teams coordinator, and with the struggles that the unit had under Cameron Achord, new leadership is absolutely needed there to increase efficiency and cut down on mistakes. Patricia would likely do well back in his comfort zone on the defensive side. If the Patriots can make the right hire at OC, the entire complexion of the coaching staff could be different in a very positive way.

Transactions

The Patriots look like they may be setting up for an aggressive free agency. Of the speculated moves, DeAndre Hopkins makes the most sense. The Patriots do have a fair bit more cap space than last year, and with such a young team, a healthy helping of rookie contracts. While they have a well-rounded group of solid weapons, they’re missing a clear number one receiver. With speculation of Bill O’Brien being the OC favorite, it could be a reunion of a pair that achieved quite a bit of success in Houston. Most importantly, this would add a threatening deep passing dimension to Mac Jones’ game and the Patriots offense.

I also think the Patriots should go after Mick McGlinchey, who currently has a relatively light contract for a tackle as talented as he is. His and the entire San Franciso offensive line have been a big part of why the 49ers have been able to sustain their offense despite turbulence at quarterback. While there are good tackles in the draft class, they need experience at that position, not to mention that both the right and left tackle situations have been tenuous this year.

In that offensive framework, there’s no practical reason to re-sign free agents Nelson Agholor or Isaiah Wynn. Agholor is a skilled receiver, but struggles with drops and fumbles, and his skillset is covered by the rest of the Patriots’ receiving core. Wynn has been injury prone, and even when playing he has been disappointing. They should certainly try to re-sign Damien Harris, but given Stevenson’s increased playing time, it may be difficult. However, having two extremely solid RB options will help the Patriots considerably.

Draft

Sometimes, it’s important to look past the obvious great prospects and find a diamond in the rough – it’s something Belichick does so well, and time will tell if Cole Strange will be the latest diamond. This is not one of those times. Too many times, Mac Jones has been pressured and sacked this season off the edge, or a holding/false start penalty from a tackle has put him behind the sticks. The Patriots have played three different right tackles in 2022, and none of them played well.

They need to kick off the draft by getting Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson or Anton Harrison, the three highest rated tackles in the draft class. All three have been part of very strong offenses this year, and facilitated more time and more space for their QBs. Johnson’s performance against a prolific UGA defensive line in the Rose Bowl was particularly impressive.

The Patriots also need additional secondary help, and Kelee Ringo, who is projected in the second round, would be an excellent addition among other talented corners. They hit a double jackpot with Marcus and Jack Jones, and would be expected to make a good pick here. No other needs are as prevalent as there, but there are other avenues for the Patriots to improve.

The WR class is stacked, and the Patriots could potentially get a guy like Jalin Hyatt as late as the second or third round. If they want to find a steal, they could go in the fifth or sixth round and get a guy like Marvin Mims, who is explosive, reliable and underrated. The Patriots didn’t draft a LB last year, and with their primary LB pick from 2021 (Cam McGrone) in Indiannapolis, the Patriots, while they do have a good core, could always use a versatile, game-making linebacker.

I would expect them to also add to their interior depth with a guard or a center, unless Andrew Stueber or Chasen Hines, last year’s late OL picks, show signs of being promising linemen. If Damien Harris ends up departing in free agency, another RB could be a good move, and they’ve drafted good value picks there so far, especially with Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris ending the season well.

 

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