The clock is ticking on the 2023 New England Patriots season. Sitting at 1-3 with only a paper-thin win over the truly hapless New York Jets to their credit, it's time for drastic measures. The pressure is on, and it's time for Bill Belichick to roll the dice.
Belichick was in a similar situation in 2001. Younger Pats fans may not remember that after a dreadful first season and a poor beginning of his second, his job may very well have been on the line. Then, an injury to Drew Bledsoe happened, Tom Brady took the helm, and history was perhaps changed.
The same questions are now being raised about the Pats' majordomo. But one thing in Bill's favor is that he possesses one very nice attribute. An old saying said, "It's better to be lucky than good." A little of each is the best option, but Bill Belichick is lucky, if nothing else.
As a New York Giants defensive coordinator, he had the best defensive player ever in Lawrence Taylor. And, as Patriots' Head Coach, after a sixth-round roll of the dice in the 2000 NFL draft, he fortuitously (due in large part to the late terrific assistant coach, Dick Rehbein) latched onto the best offensive and overall player in NFL History, Tom Brady. Belichick may now be in a lousy spot, but he may have the lucky pieces to change all that.
New England Patriots need to activate a possible wild card player
The New England Patriots have been a poor personnel operation, generally under Bill Belichick. They draft poorly and leave a lot to be desired overall in free agency. Yet, two decisions on two players made this offseason may just provide Belichick with another stroke of luck, which could save this season and maybe more.
Mac Jones has regressed even further than his poor 2022 performance thus far. Backup Bailey Zappe is a similar player. What's needed is some bold and innovative action. In this instance, the thought has already been made to secure two players who may just change the team's fortunes.
The first represents the largest guaranteed money the team has ever spent on an undrafted free agent (UDFA). Ironically, UDFA's are the best aspect of the New England Patriots personnel operation.. The player is, of course, former Louisville dual-threat quarterback Malik Cunningham.
The Patriots old-time, ossified, predictable offense worked great when you had the best ever at the helm. They don't now, so it doesn't. It's time for a change, a drastic one. It's time to activate Malik Cunningham (who had a nice pre-season cameo) onto the 53-man roster from the practice squad and place him on the 46-man gameday roster. And that isn't all; Cunningham should start the next game he's eligible. That's option one.
New England Patriots have to use Keion White as a 3-down defensive lineman
Another available option that inexplicably Bill Belichick and whoever the defensive coordinator is refuses to utilize to the fullest is Keion White. White is no fluke. He was a bonafide, consensus top player in the 2023 draft who actually slipped to the Pats at pick No. 46 in the second round. White is a force, yet he's been used sparingly on defense. The draftnetwork.com notes,
"Despite stringing together an impressive preseason, White hasn’t been heavily involved throughout the Patriots’ first four games. The former Georgia Tech standout has totaled just 87 snaps, which accounts for approximately 33.21% of all Patriots defensive plays. White played a season-high 27 defensive snaps versus the Cowboys in Week 4, partially due to Judon’s injury. White appears poised to play 30-plus snaps for the first time in Sunday’s Week 5 showdown with the New Orleans Saints."
It shouldn't have taken Matt Judon's injury to get him extensive playing time. White, like linemate Christian Barmore, is a pocket-collapsing menace. Paired with Barmore, there just aren't enough blockers to stop everyone. White is better than veterans Lawrence Guy Sr. and Davon Godchaux. He's a surefire 3-down defensive lineman all day long. He needs to play most of the downs.
Cunningham and White are available and possess the tools necessary to be big contributors right away. At least it's worth a flier. They should be given the chance as starters now. Will they be? It's doubtful. The New England Patriots football operation is stuck in the past and seems unwilling or unable to move ahead into the 2023 NFL. They have a chance to dispel that label now. They should shortly, or they can kiss the 2023 season goodbye.