1. Patriots have one edge star and not much else
The team‘s defensive edge is also full of questions. One certainty is Matt Judon, who was terrific last season before being hit with COVID-19. His play tailed off almost certainly due to that. Hopefully, fully healthy, the team can expect good things again from this terrific player, person, and leader. But after Judon, there’s not much edge to the team’s edge players at all.
High draft picks Josh Uche, a second-rounder in 2020, and Anfernee Jennings, a third-rounder in 2020, haven’t played much and contributed little when they did. Those picks were part of an overall terrible 2020 draft class.
Last year, the Pats did add another edge player in Ronnie Perkins, and he could hardly get on the field. That was another one of those ubiquitous Patriots’ third-round draft pick debacles. Yet, even in light of those clear miscues, the Patriots didn’t even bother addressing the edge or linebacker whatsoever with any of their 10 picks last month.
No solid edge players means no containing the run or running quarterbacks (hello, Josh Allen) and no pass rush. There’s Judon, and no one else who can actually get to the passer. Take the pressures and hits stats and throw them in the garbage. Sacks are what matters, and the Pats don’t get enough of them. Tom Brady isn’t here to bail out the defense when it falters, either.
The Patriots’ personnel operation is clearly looking at this group through those proverbial rose-colored glasses. There’s Judon and loads of question marks. To grade this offseason’s effort to try to bolster an overall terrible linebacker and edge group last season is easy, it’s a solid, unquestionable F.
And the worst part of the whole situation is that they didn’t even attempt to. No wonder other NFL teams are having a good laugh at New England’s draft and probably their whole offseason. It’s been a non-entity. Owner Robert Kraft cannot be happy with his team being a draft laughingstock.
That must be especially true after he dropped a bombshell comment prior to the draft. Mr. Kraft not only lamented that the team had not won a playoff game in three years, but he also quite publicly trashed the team’s four drafts prior to 2021 (an outlier as a rare good one for a change).
The hope engendered by the aggressive offseason prior to 2021 (admittedly with hits and misses) and by the terrific draft of three top players in Mac Jones, Christian Barmore, and Rhamondre Stevenson, has faded away. It’s been replaced once again by the odd and, at times, incomprehensibly head-scratching Patriots’ personnel decision-making.
The team did far too little this offseason to improve. This offseason could and should have been one where they closed the gap with the Bills. Instead, they’ve widened it and fell further behind through their own self-inflicted personnel missteps. Additionally, the Patriots have very possibly even fallen behind Miami, with the Jets racing to overtake them as well.
Just don’t be shocked if the offseason brings on a long cold fall and winter at Gillette Stadium. After all, you are what you do in the offseason. And the Patriots haven’t done nearly enough.