The New England Patriots offseason is well underway at this point and it’s an appropriate time to grade the team’s move thus far prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. The good news is there’s still time to remedy the shortcomings, but many of the impact players in free agency have already been taken off the board, so don’t expect a sense of optimism in that department.
The Patriots entered free agency with some clear needs to fill. They also had key offensive free agents who needed to be re-signed. But how the team has fared thus far in its effort to — and this is important — get better than the 2021 team that was shellacked by the Buffalo Bills twice. Have they taken the necessary steps to do so? The opposition seemingly has gotten better, so have the Patriots kept pace or have they fallen further behind on offense?
While it may be obvious to close observers, it still holds some water to take a close look at a few aspects of the offense to see if they have in fact gotten better, stayed the same, or regressed. Let’s grade each of several offensive categories and then assign an overall grade thus far to the team’s offseason activities on that front.
The categories to be explored will be quarterback, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, and offensive line. Let’s begin with the quarterback situation.
A Patriots bright spot is at quarterback with Mac Jones
One aspect of the Patriots’ offense that needed very little tinkering in the 2022 offseason was the quarterback. Returning from a very good rookie season with a Pro Bowl appearance to boot is Mac Jones, who led the Patriots back to the playoffs after their 2020 absence. Objectively, for any rookie, that’s a massive accomplishment.
Yet, all that glitter was not gold for the young gunslinger. His play, as well as that of the entire team, fell off in the last five games, with the Patriots going 1-4 in that stretch. That’s not going to get it done when the formidable Bills are in your division. Additionally, adding Tyreek Hill to an already solid offense will make the Miami Dolphins a more formidable competitor.
Jones has to dedicate himself to a solid offseason workout regimen and emerge bigger, stronger, and faster than in his rookie campaign. The chasm between the Bills and Patriots is huge. It now looks to have gotten even wider as the Bills keep adding talent. Jones has to improve and continue to make the surrounding cast better.
Backing up Jones will again be veteran journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer. Hoyer is more of a teacher than a player at this point of his career and an injury to Jones for any length of time would be catastrophic. Also in hand is former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham, though he’s never done much ,and if the Patriots can get a low-round pick for him it would behoove them to do so.
Quarterback grade: B+