New England Patriots: Team's Achilles heel in 2023 training camp

One key Patriots' position needs dramatic improvement
Detroit Lions v New England Patriots
Detroit Lions v New England Patriots / Nick Grace/GettyImages

The New England Patriots 2023 offseason is essentially in the books as the team enters training camp prior to the season's commencement in about six weeks. The team has improved at several positions and remains strong in a few others. Yet one sore spot remains and it could damage the entire season if not remedied shortly.

That position is offensive tackle, the most critical position on the unit of greatest importance on the entire team after the quarterbacks. In the past two offseasons, the need was evident yet the New England Patriots personnel operation headed by Bill Belichick has neglected to rectify it with acquisitions of clear quality.

Coach Belichick, the de facto General Manager, seems to have an aversion to any thoughts that may have been expressed in the media world or elsewhere when it comes to his team and the personnel who comprise it. At times it seems the attitude is, if it's suggested by others, it can't possibly have any value and he'll take the opposite tack accordingly. That's an issue worthy of attention on its own at another time.

Meanwhile, the lack of attention of sufficient magnitude at offensive tackle this offseason looms large as summer camp begins. Let's take a look at the implications for the New England Patriots of not addressing this key area adequately and how it could determine this season's outcome.

New England Patriots missed the boat at offensive tackle in free agency

The offensive line's importance is second only to the quarterback unit on the entire team and offensive left tackle is the most important position on that unit. The O-line not only blocks in the passing game but also opens holes for the run. Those attributes allow the team to control the ball and the clock, keeping the opposition's offense on the bench and their own defense fresh. Do these things well, and you win.

The New England Patriots had a golden opportunity to address the position of offensive tackle in free agency in the 2023 off-season. The Patriots should have learned through trial and error that former first-round draft pick, Isaiah Wynn was lacking not only at manning the left tackle position, protecting the quarterback's blindside, but also couldn't man the right either. They needed a top-proven starter in free agency.

The team neglected to sign one of the top free agent targets like Orlando Brown Jr. or Mike McGlinchey. This would have provided great flexibility for the team in the draft. They whiffed and neglected a big signing entirely. Instead, they signed NFL re-treads, 34-year-old Riley Reiff and journeyman Calvin Anderson, while re-signing Conn\or McDermott.

The New England Patriots flubbed the NFL draft at OT

Compounding their error, the team neglected to draft even one offensive tackle in their 12-pick NFL draft. They had the opportunity to draft Broderick Jones, a potential 10-year starter at pick Number 14, and traded out of that pick. They rebounded nicely by securing a fourth-round pick and drafting Christian Gonzalez, a stellar cornerback at pick 17. Ironically, the Pittsburgh Steelers, with whom they traded selected Jones with the 14th pick. We'll see how the exchange works out.

Having loads of picks to work with, they team had ample opportunities to add to the offensive tackle position thereafter. Solid options existed in the second, third, and even fourth rounds. Again, the team inexplicably and confoundingly opted to pass in these rounds, as well as any other round of the draft.

This personnel mismanagement bordering on sheer negligence in football team construction made little sense. It leaves the team in jeopardy of having a debacle at the position should an injury befall its best option, left tackle Trent Brown, who has injury issues at times.

The New England Patriots can still remedy this dire situation with a trade or two to bolster the offensive line as camp unfolds. Barring that, expect immobile Mac Jones or whoever is at the helm at quarterback (excepting dual-threat undrafted free agent, Malik Cunningham ) to pay for the lack of attention to this important position. They say, "It is what it is" around Foxborough often. In the case of the offensive tackle position, what it is isn't very promising at all.