Offseason mistake has already doomed Patriots 2024 season

History repeats itself as Pats are headed to the bottom ... unless
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

In the 2023 off-season, Bill Belichick made a critical error that cost him the season before it began. He patched up the Patriots' offensive tackle position with glue and duct tape acquisitions in free agency. In addition, he neglected to utilize even one of his 12 draft picks on a tackle at all, never mind a left tackle (LT).

The result of those omissions was predictable and predicted here: they'd stink. They did all the way to a last-place finish. Trent Brown, a capable left tackle, was in his free agency season. There was every chance he'd bolt again as he'd done before. His play reflected that reality.

Belichick disregarded that fact and didn't draft one OLT. That represented personnel mismanagement if not downright negligence. The future Hall of Fame Head Coach (he certainly won't be as a GM) lost his position to a great extent due to that neglect.

Now, in 2024, the newly tabbed Executive Vice President of Personnel Operations, Eliot Wolf, has repeated the same mistake and is headed to the same spot in the AFC East. Only one thing may keep that from happening (to be mentioned later).

Eliot Wolf failed to learn from the mistakes of the past

Philosopher George Santayana wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This aphorism applies to sports history, as Eliot Wolf, in his first offseason as the head of personnel for the Patriots, failed to learn the most important lesson emanating from 2023.

Playing without a talented and committed left tackle is tantamount to driving a car with no tires. You may have the engine, the quarterback, but without tires, your offensive tackles, specifically the left tackle, you're not going anywhere.

The aforementioned Trent Brown was injured a lot as a Patriot. Preparation for that eventuality and his likely departure after the season was paramount. Belichick punted and shanked it 25 yards and out-of-bounds. As a result, the team never had a chance in 2023.

Wolf was on board in personnel in 2023 and should have learned that lesson. Instead, he repeated the same mistake Belichick made and neglected to fill that all-important left tackle position, basically at all.

Belichick at least had a left tackle in Brown, however unreliable he was, and he would be in again in 2023. Wolf doesn't have any, and his error is perhaps even greater. Only one thing can save him from another last-place finish in 2024.

The only move that can keep the 2024 Patriots out of the AFC East cellar

With no left tackles on hand, the Patriots are headed for the basement of the AFC East again. Wolf correctly cut through all the foolish, foggy suggestions of trading down and drafted top quarterback Drake Maye in the first round. He refrained from taking the next most important step by not taking a top offensive left tackle in the second round.

Two good ones were available for the asking in Kingsley Suamataia of BYU and Patrick Paul of Houston. Both could have/would have been Day One starters on the left side protecting his prize quarterback, Maye. Instead, no OLTs were selected at all.

Some consolation was that Wolf at least drafted (a huge reach, by the way) a right tackle, Caedan Wallace. At least, that was more than Belichick did. Now, the thought may be (as perhaps it was with college guard Sidy Sow in 2023) that Wallace will instantaneously become a starting OLT in the NFL.

The only problem is that he played just six snaps there during his college career.

All this inevitably leads to the same conclusion as before the 2023 season: the Patriots' chances are slim to avert yet another last-place finish in the AFC East. One possibility does exist that may give them a way out of this conundrum. That's to start rookie quarterback Drake Maye from the outset.

Silly criticisms notwithstanding, Maye has the qualities necessary to offset the lack of a true OLT, mobility and running acumen. He makes all the moves in the pocket that scream escapability. He'll need them. He also can adroitly run to escape pressure or even on a scripted play.

That's the only possibility for a 2024 Patriots' winning season and maybe a playoff berth. No Maye from the get-go; no way is the call here.

Hopefully, this prediction is wrong, but don't bet on it. You are what you build in the offseason. The Patriots neglected the second most crucial building block, their OLT. The result is a house of cards that's liable to totally collapse.

More Patriots coverage: