New England Patriots: Why you shouldn't expect miracles from the new Pats in 2024

Revamping a whole offense, plus won't be done in a day, or probably in a year.

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots / Billie Weiss/GettyImages

A new regime is in charge in Foxborough for the first time in 24 years. Eliot Wolf and Jerod Mayo are the new de facto general manager and Head Coach, respectively. If that's not a significant change from nearly a quarter of a century with Bill Belichick calling all the shots, then nothing is.

Those two changes would be a culture shock to any organization, not to mention one whose expectations over the past two decades plus have been Super Bowl or it's a failed season. Whether you feel Bill Belichick was the primary architect of the success or it was Tom Brady or whatever combination thereof, both are now gone, and it's time for a dramatic overhaul.

Both Eliot Wolf and Jerod Mayo have made it clear that big-time changes are in the wind. And that's no surprise. Owner Robert Kraft demonstrably called for the same by sacking his long-time football chief, Belichick. It's a tabula rasa, a clean slate, and Wolf and Mayo have the two keys to the car. Yet, while it's an exciting time, it's also one of trepidation. Change can be disconcerting. Significant change, even more so.

With expectations high, it's not a bad time to see if high expectations are warranted or whether those suggestions are perhaps a bit too optimistic. The thought here is that Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say, and it's probably unlikely that a thoroughly competitive New England Patriots refitted with a brand new general manager, head coach, quarterback, and offense will be either. Let's explore.

It may take a couple of years to get a revamped offense in place

The Patriots' 2023 offense (and in 2022, for that matter) was an embarrassment to bad NFL offenses. Quarterback Mac Jones experienced a precipitous decline from a very promising 2022 rookie season and a Pro Bowl nod to being a benchwarmer for much of 2023. Expect a Jones' trade and a new quarterback to be in place for 2024 either from a high draft pick (Jayden Daniels, the hope here) or elsewhere. It all starts with the quarterback.

Additionally, the Patriots' offensive line is a wreck overall. While the interior has some hands in steady as the Rock of Gibraltar, veteran center David Andrews, former first-round pick guard Cole Strange, and three interior line 2023 draftees guards, Sidy Sow and Atonio Mafi, and center/guard Jake Andrews, the tackle position is in shambles.

No tackles equals no offensive line. The left tackle is the second most important position on the team after the quarterback, as mentioned above. The 2023 left tackle, Trent Brown, is a free agent who'll not likely be back. The right tackle last season was transplanted guard Mike Onwenu, who's also a free agent. If both go, there's nothing much left in the tackle cupboard at all.

One of Eliot Wolf's top tasks will be to rebuild that position from top to bottom. The top is the left tackle, without whom your passing game is toast. There is no one there now, and a draftee or a solid free agent (and the free agent tackle pool is slim) is an absolute necessity. And he has to be a good one. None of the 2023 incumbents can fit the bill. If all are set free, there'll be little in the way of talent lost.

The offensive skill positions are a wreck and also need a massive infusion of talent

The Patriots wide receiver room is below average. Their best in 2023 was rookie Demario Douglas, a 2023 sixth-round pick. DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster, two veterans, have flopped, and Kendrick Bourne suffered a major injury last season. Wolf should go to go to the free agency well for his No. One receiver and pay the freight, period. He also needs to draft two additional receivers to bolster that room. These aren't options; they're necessities.

Additionally, the tight end room is almost bare. Hunter Henry is a free agent. He's a good player but not worth anywhere near his $15.5M cap hit last season. Mike Gesicki, last year's free-agent signee, was a huge disappointment. He'll play elsewhere in 2024. Again, a free-agent signee, either Henry or another veteran, and at least one draftee is required.

And finally, with Ezekiel Eliot, a free agent, the running back room only has Rhamondre Stevenson, entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, and Kevin Harris, an underwhelming backup. Here, reinforcements are required, as well, one free agent and maybe one in the draft. Wolf has his hands full just with the offense.

On defense, tackle Lawrence Guy and safety Adrian Philips are gone. Tackles Davon Godchaux and Daniel Ekuale should probably follow them out the door, so additions at tackle will be central. Christian Barmore and Keion White should be the two starters there. Other than that, the defense is in relatively good shape, though an edge player to replace Josh Uche, who may leave in free agency, and a safety to take free agent Kyle Dugger's place if he leaves may be necessary.

Getting quality at all those positions of need is a major task for Wolf. The good news is he has near top-of-the-round draft picks in all but the sixth round (including the third pick overall) and $100M or so in cap room (or maybe even more with some strategic cuts) to work with.

It's all on Wolf to wisely use his capital, both draft and free agency. It's a tall order. All this needs to be done in a couple of months, along with time for many new players to gel under Mayo's on-field leadership. It's a lot for Wolf and Mayo and their staff to accomplish. We'll see how it goes, but if he adds a dual-threat quarterback like Jayden Daniels, it will help. He'll make up for a whole lot of deficiencies, especially in the short term.

Read more from Musket Fire: