The New England Patriots season went down the drain early in 2023. By last October, the team was playing for a top draft pick, and that remains the case with the last game of the season against the almost equally hapless Jets looming.
With the season waning, it's not too early to determine a few players whose performances have fallen well beneath expectations. When you measure up the overall team's season; it ultimately comes down to the players. Poor coaching can also be a significant factor, but when one comes down to the nitty gritty, it's the players who either do their jobs or not.
This season the offensive side of the ball was well, offensive. It never really got off the ground or the field except to punt. There are several players whose performances merit this dubious distinction. Nevertheless, let's settle on five top offensive duds and leave it at that for now.
New England Patriots offensive woes began at the top
Can't list the most disappointing Patriots in 2023 without settling first on the top positional player on the field, the quarterback. That would be Mac Jones, the former Pro-Bowler ( LOL) who has fallen off a proverbial playing cliff since 2021.
Jones has been displaced as the starting quarterback by the equally ineffective backup Bailey Zappe. Yet Jones' difficulties got things headed in the wrong direction for the 2023 version of the Patriots who some thought were a double-digit winner. They've been the opposite losing 12 or 13 when all is said and done.
In 11 games, Jones completed a paltry 64.9 percent of his passes (poor for him) with only 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was benched in-game a couple of times before being summarily replaced by Zappe as the top QB. Since 2021, his play has regressed and the likelihood is that he'll be traded for whatever the team can get (not much) in draft capital. It's the best option for both the player and the team at this point.
Three pass-catchers also rate high on the list of flops in 2023.
Let's start with a tight end for whom the expectations were high here, That would be Mike Gesicki formerly of the Miami Dolphins. Expectations were for Gesicki to haul in 50 or so passes to complement the other veteran tight end, Hunter Henry. He's sitting at the moment with about half that amount with only two TDs. He's been a flop.
Three New England Patriots' wide receivers are among their worst offensive players
The scene at WR looked promising with some depth seeming apparent early on though the lack of a No. 1 receiver was evident to all. The depth never materialized and the performances of three take the booby prize. Let's start with JuJu Smith-Schuster, the former Steeler and Chief.
Free agent Smith-Schuster was seen as a possible upgrade on Jakobi Meyers who subsequently left for the Las Vegas Raiders. OOPS! Meyers has shined and Smith-Schuster hasn't. He has a pedestrian two TDs to go along with 29 catches and 290 yards to his credit. His injury status before he was signed and the Patriots' due diligence thereon has to be questioned. Whatever the reasons(s), he's been a total dud.
The last two wideouts who deserve mention are DeVante Parker, expected to be the team's No. 1 receiver, and Tyquan Thronton, a second-round pick in 2022. Parker has also been afflicted with an injury bug. He's managed no TDs with only 31 catches for 373 yards. Those are not exactly top receiver stats.
And bringing up the bottom of the receiver flop list, is a former second-round major reach, Tyquan Thornton.
Not much to be said about Thornton's performances. His pick was panned here as major draft reach and he's done all he can to justify that commentary. Thornton is an archetypal reason why Bill Belichick and his personnel operation are a debacle. He was seen by the consensus as a fourth-round pick or so and has not even justified those modest expectations.
Thornton's 2023 stats are almost non-existent with no TDs, a meager 13 receptions, and only 91 yards. He's bordering on a major draft bust and probably should be waived after the season. He'll likely stick around for another year though if Belichick is still the "GM", saving face you know. But he's been as complete a draft flop as a second-round pick is likely to be.
Those are five top players whose performances have helped dump the Patriots into the AFC East cellar. They are not the only ones. They have plenty of company. But as skill players from whom lots of production was expected, they've all been disappointments. If none are back in 2024, there'll be little production lost.