The 2023 NFL regular season concluded on Sunday, and unsurprisingly, the Patriots lost to the Jets, ending their 15-game winning streak against the AFC East rival. The 17-3 loss meant New England finished the year with a 4-13 record, officially becoming their worst record in over 20 years.
Now, they enter the offseason with more questions than answers about their future. But what exactly went wrong in New England?
1. The continued regression of Mac Jones
This season was a make-or-break year for third-year quarterback Mac Jones. He entered this season with uncertainty after a forgettable 2022 season in which Matt Patricia, a former defensive coordinator, was his offensive coordinator along with Joe Judge.
At first, Jones appeared to return to his rookie form, which is when he saw the most success. But, after the Week 3 victory against the New York Jets, things began to go downhill.
A lack of coaching caught up to Jones after losing his confidence on the field which resulted in him committing ill-timed turnovers more often than not. The final time Jones completed a game in which he did not turn the ball over was against Buffalo in the Patriots' stunning upset against the Bills in Week 7.
After that, it became a weekly lowlight that he would be throwing interceptions. In the end, Jones was benched after the embarrassing loss against the New York Giants on November 26th and finished the season throwing for 2120 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
2. Bill Belichick's inability to build an offense was on full display
The hottest topic in the NFL right now is the future of Bill Belichick. Was Sunday it for the greatest coach of all time? Will Belichick go coach for another team? If he does, he will need to adapt to today's NFL.
What exactly does this mean?
The Patriots' offense did not much of anything successfully this season. In a pass-heavy league, it's essential to have an excellent offensive line, a quarterback who can throw the ball but can also move in the pocket, and receivers for the quarterback to throw to. None of that existed in New England this season.
Bill Belichick, a defensive-minded coach and GM, cannot build an offense that can be successful in today's NFL.
He overpaid JuJu Smith-Schuster, who could be a one-and-done candidate in New England despite his contract. He also gave money to DeVante Parker who can't stay healthy to be on the field. His hiring of Bill O'Brien was an even bigger failure and was a major contributing factor to why the offense could never produce. The offensive line did not get any better, either.
In the end, Belichick not only failed as a general manager and coach this season, he failed the offense.
3. Losing Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez
It's never easy losing a key player for the season. But losing two in one game hurt the Patriots defense this year. Both Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez went down in the Week 4 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Judon, a leader on and off the field, was missed in the pass rush. He's a nightmare for any offensive line, and the pass rush was never the same after his departure.
Christian Gonzalez, on the other hand, was an even bigger loss. Gonzalez never got to develop as a rookie this season, even though he had more than a solid start. With a sack in week one and an interception in week two, he was slowly starting his Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign.
Despite only playing three games, Gonzalez's absence left a giant void in the secondary.