The New England Patriots are entering the most important season the franchise has had in a very long time. With a crucial third year in the Mac Jones era set to get underway, the Patriots have to find their answer on him and their future.
This led us at Musket Fire to consider what is the best/worst-case scenario for the Patriots next season.
Best Case Scenario for Patriots: Win a playoff game
It's always best to start with the good news, so the good news for the Patriots involves winning a playoff game.
The factors that will go into winning a playoff game include a pro bowl year for Jones, a great season from the defense, and overcoming clutch issues.
Jones has to return to the form he had during his rookie season if the Patriots are going to make noise in 2023.
I think Jones is capable of having a good season, and I am tired of people blaming last season on him. With new weapons and Bill O’Brien, I expect Jones to have a career year.
With another year to build chemistry, I expect the Patriots defense to be even better next season. If the defense plays at an elite level, that should help mitigate the team’s clutch issues.
Overcoming clutch issues will be the key to returning to the postseason because it cost them last year. If Rhamondre Stevenson doesn’t fumble against the Cincinnati Bengals and Jakobi Meyers does not throw the game away against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Patriots are probably in the playoffs.
Ultimately, winning a playoff game would be a tremendous improvement for the Patriots, and it would give them a definitive answer on Jones.
Worst case scenario for Patriots: Tank mode
The worst-case scenario for the Patriots in 2023 would be that none of the offseason moves make a difference, and Jones turns out to be a bust.
There is a world where the Patriots fail to land DeAndre Hopkins, then their offense isn't great, and they fail to win games early on with their tough schedule.
If they were to start the season 2-5 or worse, they would have to consider tanking.
Also, if the Patriots fail to improve their turnover issues from last season, they could be in trouble. Turnovers have been the Achilles heel of the Patriots in recent seasons, and it could derail their season this year.
If the Patriots were to go into full tank mode, they would probably have their sights set on USC quarterback Caleb Williams.