New England Patriots: 3 biggest duds of the 2023 season

It's virtually impossible to pick something that hasn't gone wrong for the Patriots this season, but what are three things that definitely need to improve going forward?
Nov 26, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (37)
Nov 26, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (37) / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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One of the Patriots’ biggest issues this season is injuries. They currently have 21 players either on IR or dealing with an injury. From a performance point of view, you can’t play poorly if you’re not playing at all, right?

But who hasn’t been performing at the level they were expected to in 2023?

Biggest dud of 2023 #1: Chad Ryland

Selecting a kicker with a fourth-round pick they had acquired from the Jets was an odd decision in the first place. But it has turned out to look plain bad. The Patriots drafted Ryland 66 picks ahead of Puka Nacua, and 23 before Aidan O’Connell came off the board. And either of those guys would be pretty handy in New England right about now.

In Ryland’s defense, he couldn’t have picked a worse landing spot. The 2023 Patriots have been a nightmare situation for all the rookies. Christian Gonzalez looked like a veteran cornerback at the start of the season but suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4. And an offense that can’t get within field goal range will really hamper any kicker.

It has also meant that any errors he’s made have been magnified. He’s been quite good at kickoffs, though; he averages 63.9 yards per kickoff. That’s fine. 

Drafting a kicker seemed like a move designed to save some money when there were numerous veteran kickers available in free agency. But one with the experience of Robbie Gould or Mason Crosby would have been expensive. But as the old cliche goes, you get what you pay for. 

Ryland hasn’t missed an extra point all season; he’s only had to attempt 14, though. Only Graham Gano has a lower field goal percentage in 2023. Gano only played eight games this season before he succumbed to injury, and with the “help” of a poor Giants offense, he was only able to make 64.6% of the 17 field goals he attempted.

Ryland has played 11 games but only made 66.7% of the 18 he’s attempted. He’s only made 1 of his three attempts from 50+ yards! But that’s not surprising, considering he was three from 6 on 50+ yard attempts in college at Maryland in 2022. An odd draft pick all around.