3 issues that could sink the Patriots season before it begins

NFL winners are made with great decisions in the offseason
Duke v North Carolina
Duke v North Carolina / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

Prognostications for the Patriots' season range from bad to worse. The team was terrible in 2023, and the offseason is the time—the only time—when improvements can and must be made. It's no different for the New England Patriots, whose offseasons have been dismal of late.

After the offseason, real fans ask whether their team did enough to remedy the defects of their previous team and craft a better one for this season. The 2024 New England Patriots offseason flopped due to three major issues. The Pats can’t blame Bill Belichick’s poor general manager-ship this time.

Here, we’ll explore three pivotal aspects of team-building (unsurprisingly, all on offense) that the Pats either may mess up or have already bungled to date. Combined, these blunders could tank the 2024 season before a ball is even kicked off in anger.

As a result, absent the miraculous emergence of one player, these missteps will consign them to the cellar of the AFC East again.

The Pats are sunk if they foolishly don’t start Drake Maye

The one overarching decision that will single-handedly crush the New England Patriots 2024 season is not starting rookie quarterback Drake Maye. Foolishly deciding to start veteran backup journeyman Jacoby Brissett will plummet the team into a dumpster dive to the bottom of the AFC East again.

Signing Brissett to an indefensible $8M contract was a mistake from the get-go by personnel head Eliot Wolf. Starting Brissett makes even less sense. The only fathomable reason would be Wolf’s trying to paper over that ill-advised signing. The result will be the beginning of a multi-season rebuilding saga, aka a feeble excuse to try to justify sustained ineptitude.

If the Pats want a chance to win, roll with Maye from the beginning of summer camp and never look back. There’s no alternative. Doing otherwise is throwing in the towel before the games even begin. It’s a ticket to football's version of Palookaville.

Maye’s dual-threat skills will help compensate for the other off-season gaffes. He may just win immediately, but even if not, he’ll gain vital experience. If the Pats seriously think they will “ruin” the player if all the hypothetical “pieces” around him aren’t in place, they’re way over their heads and hopeless.

Two additional situations that could sink the Pats before the season begins

The second most likely season-crusher is no stranger to this space. It’s Mr. Wolf's incomprehensible decision not to address the left tackle position. Instead, he’s going the ridiculous route of trying to transform a right tackle (Chukwuma Okorafor or rookie Caedan Wallace) miraculously into a left tackle instantaneously. Absent a miracle, it ain't happening.

One thing any competent NFL general manager should know enough not to do is enter any season without a talented player at the second most important position on the squad, the left tackle. Thus far, the Pats have done just that. How that is possible is inconceivable, unfathomable, indecipherable, whatever way you want to term it. It's just amateurish.

Not addressing the tackle position overall in 2023 helped cost Bill Belichick his job. Yet, he at least had Trent Brown, who was an inconsistent left tackle, on hand. This year, the Patriots are hoping they’ll find a diamond in the rough with a right tackle stepping in. Maybe it will work, but more likely, it's a trip to fantasyland and will be their Achilles heel.

The third issue that threatens to trash the Pats' season is less dramatic but still obvious. The team still lacks a No. One wide receiver. Mr. Wolf neglected to sign one with his ample free agency funds. Instead, he drafted two wide receivers, both of whom are more suited to the number two or Z role
in the offense.

Perhaps Ja’Lynn Polk, or Javon Baker will emerge as a true WR1. Neither has the clocked speed usually required, but hopefully, one can. Regardless, the fact remains that the team had the need and the money yet failed to get one. Absent the emergence of one of these rookie draftees (a tall order), this may also contribute to sinking the Patriots’ season.

Those are three key issues that could decimate the 2024 Patriots’ season before it begins. The wild card in all this is Drake Maye. Starting the dual-threat, Maye could make up for a whole host of deficiencies. Yet, not having a left tackle or a true WR1 won’t help matters, even if he does start.

Yet, as C.J. Stroud did for the Texans last season, sometimes a great rookie quarterback can perform miracles. Maye has the pedigree and the talent to do just that. But one thing is certain: it won’t happen from the bench. He has to play. If not, say hello to last place again.

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