The New England Patriots have gotten off to an inauspicious start to the 2023 season. A record of 0-2, both losses at home, isn't going to do much for the team's playoff aspirations. They've dug themselves a small hole at home and will have to get the ship righted fast if they're to rebound.
An obvious irritant has been the offense's inability to take a game by the horns and win it late or come back to win. It's a central problem that could derail their season. There is a way to supercharge the offense. They should infuse multi-threat quarterback plus Malik Cunningham into the offense right now in some role.
The New England Patriots aren't a good drafting team. Many premium picks (first to third rounds) have been wasted on players who flat-out either couldn't play or never even came close to fulfilling expectations.
The list is as long as your arm, but recent examples include draft reaches in 2022 for guard Cole Strange in the first round and wide receiver Tyquan Thornton in the second. Strange is an average NFL guard, no more, no less. Thornton is a flop thus far and can't stay on the field. Both were huge mistakes taken where they were.
But the 2023 draft at the top looks to be a winner. Cornerback Christian Gonzalez has stepped immediately into the starting top cornerback role and looks to be a star in the making. Second-round pick Keion White is another great-looking pick for whom hopes are sky-high, who, unfortunately, hasn't yet been given sufficient opportunity. He should be, and now.
New England Patriots Keion White is a force on the defensive line
White has played in his first NFL games against the Eagles and the Dolphins. The problem is, he hasn't been used enough. He's only been in the defense for 33% of defensive snaps. At 21 years old with tremendous physical talents, not using him more is counter-productive for a New England defense that has yet to live up to its hype thus far.
White is a force anywhere on the defensive front. Unfortunately, however, the coaching staff seems married to two interior linemen who are not very productive or disruptive. They are former free agent signees, 33-year-old veteran defensive end Lawrence Guy Sr., and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux.
Now, in his seventh year with the Patriots, Guy has given the team yeoman's service, but his most productive years are behind him. Godchaux has underwhelmed for New England as he enters his third season in the blue and silver. Neither offers what White can.
White is good enough right now to be a three-down player, and it's incumbent on the New England Patriots coaching staff to turn the young man loose. White can be a significant force when teamed up with several high-effort teammates.
New England Patriots' Keion White can play multiple positions.
Keion White adds a new dimension to the Patriots' defense. He can be lined up in a gap with fellow defensive end Dietrich Wise Jr. Adding defensive tackle Christian Barmore on the nose, his most impactful position, and Barmore will warrant double teams on every play there.
Wise and White will then be freed up to harass the quarterback. Like Barmore, White is a powerful pocket-crusher, but that's not all he can do to present problems for opposing offensive lines. He's a multi-dimensional player who can fill other roles well.
White can slide outside on clear passing downs as either a down end or a standup rusher. Wherever he's deployed, he'll be someone for whom any defense will have to gameplan. Add Matt Judon and Josh Uche to White, Barmore, and Wise, and passers beware.
None of this is possible, however, unless the rookie is on the field. The New England Patriots are teetering on the brink of a disastrous beginning of the season from which it could be difficult to rebound. It's time to unleash the weapons they have available. Those include Keion White and the aforementioned dual-threat quarterback, Malik Cunningham.
Whether the Patriots are willing to give these two young talents enough (or, in Cunningham's case, any) playing time is another matter entirely. The team seems frozen in time, unable to adapt to a Tom Brady-less operation. (Not that that would have been easy for anyone!)
But in the NFL, you either adapt or become an irrelevant bottom-dweller. One thing the Patriots can do now is unleash Keion White as a three-down player. It's time they trusted in their own instincts and their own talented young players. The way the season has begun, it looks like they have very little to lose if they do.