Coming into the season as a rookie, there was a lot of hype around Chad Ryland for a few reasons, mainly due to Belichick deciding to keep him as the lone kicker on the roster by releasing trusted veteran Nick Folk. The other exciting factor was that he had been projected as one of the best at the position in the 2023 class, which made it seem like the Patriots may have finally found the next guy for the job.
But with that came the criticism of letting go of Folk, who hadn't shown much change in performance since signing with the team in 2019. He did miss five field goals in 2022, but given how much leniency others have gotten for their troubling production that season, it seems fair to give Folk a bit of a pass as well.
On top of that, Ryland hadn't outshined Folk throughout the summer enough for Belichick to feel comfortable keeping the rookie over the 15-year pro. But that decision led to Ryland's inevitable fate, as he struggled mightily all season long, missing nine field goals and one extra point attempt.
He became a hot topic in New England, which likely took a toll on his confidence, but his consistent misses put the team in undesirable situations in games far too often that they would typically not be in if Folk had been around.
And to make matters worse, Folk signed with the Titans and had his best statistical season for field goals made in his career, missing just one from 50+ yards out.
Now that Ryland will be entering his second year in the league, maybe he will show some improvement and feel more comfortable in his environment. That's the hope, anyway, since he remains as the only kicker on the roster and there are far too many other positions that Mayo will likely prioritize over replacing him any time soon.