5 keys to a successful Patriots offense in 2024

A lot has to go right to be relevant in the AFC East
Washington Commanders v New England Patriots
Washington Commanders v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Anyone paying attention knows that the New England Patriots' success this season will depend on how well their offense performs. The team is solid on defense and maybe a top-10 or even five-ranked D in the NFL, but most of the questions lie on offense.

Last season, the offense was a poor shadow of the glory days when Tom Brady always shredded any defenses. In the last two seasons, the offense couldn't shred a block of cheese. If the Pats are to regain some relevance and again contend, five things, among others, have to go very right on offense.

Let’s look at five key aspects that have to fall into place if the Patriots are to rise from the ashes like a phoenix in the AFC East and vault themselves back into contention. It's happened before in the NFL, as late as last season, so it can't be ruled out here in Foxborough in 2024.

That potentiality will all depend on one key decision, which has been a topic of conversation and controversy in the Boston media. It shouldn't be. There's only one right decision if the team is looking to win. It's not to embark on an endless string of silly rebuilds. We'll look at what that decision must be first.

Patriots offense starts and ends with the quarterback and the O-line

The be-all end-all of any NFL offense or team, for that matter, is the quarterback. If you have one, you can win; if not, you’re toast, and it's wait ‘til next year. Again. The last two seasons the Patriots floundered at QB, now, they've invested big-time in one in the draft.

The Patriots did the right thing in using the third pick overall in the draft on a quarterback with unlimited potential, Drake Maye. He’s their best and only chance to win in 2024. If Jacoby Brissett is your starter, you’re an AFC East cellar-dweller.

As one coach noted, if Maye can’t take the top job from Brissett, he wasn’t worthy of that high pick. He’s right. The thought here is he is and should be given the keys to the car from the first day of summer camp. If the Patriots don't realize that as a coaching staff and a front office, it will be next men up in those positions in no time.

Need any convincing?

Look at the Houston Texans with rookie C.J. Stroud at the helm. The precocious rookie second-pick overall took a lackluster 3-14 Texans to a 10-win team and a playoff win. And if you want to look closer to home, in 2001, a rookie in all but name took a 2000 Patriots team that stunk to a Super Bowl win the following season. You won't know what a young man will be until you roll him out onto the field.

The next key will be the left tackle. Any team should invest heavily in that position, the second
most important on the entire squad. New personnel chief Eliot Wolf invested zilch in the position. He signed none in free agency, and he drafted none. Brilliant.

Wolf is counting on a former veteran right tackle, Chukwuma Okorafor, to transition. It’s a long shot that he can exhibit top quality, especially of the magnitude required to protect a rookie quarterback. But as he goes, so may go the entire offense. If Wolf got it wrong, it’s a disaster in the making.

3 other positions that are key to the 2024 offense

The Patriots’ wide receivers are another key.

Since Julian Edelman retired, there’s been no No. One receiver on the team. There still isn't. It was a massive omission by Eliot Wolf not to go out and sign or trade for a true WR1. At least the Patriots, for once, did draft two. Both are No. Two types. They are second-round pick Ja’Lynn Polk and fourth-rounder Javon Baker. Maybe one will emerge as The Guy.

With a healthy Demario Douglas, who's expected to have a big season, Polk and Baker will be big keys to the offense. Wolf correctly invested heavily here in the draft. If he hits, it could be a game-changer.

In addition, the recently re-signed running back Rhamondre Stevenson is another key. If he can stay healthy, a big "if" for any running back, he’ll provide the most critical piece to complement the Drake Maye-led passing offense.

Unfortunately, there’s little depth behind him, which is another big omission, so if Stevenson gets
hurt, they could be finished. And the last key to the 2024 offense will be the guard play. The team has invested heavily in guards in the past two drafts.

They drafted two guards and a guard/center in Sidy Sow, Atonio Mafi, and Jake Andrews in 2023. This year, they added another guard in fourth-round pick Layden Robinson. If they can't get two stalwarts from that group plus the injured Cole Strange, a former first-round pick, expect little of consequence on the ground (or through the air either, for that matter).

Those are five keys the Patriots need to perform at a high level and emerge as a contender in the 2024 AFC East. It’s a tall order, but if you have the quarterback, anything is possible. They do have one in Drake Maye if they’re astute enough to put him on the field. We'll see if they "get it."

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