Patriots alleged player evaluation process proves to be a significant problem

New Orleans Saints v New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints v New England Patriots / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

The draft tactics of Bill Belichick have been in the spotlight for years, primarily due to some major whiffs on players that he either reached for or passed on, especially in recent years. It's become one of the leading causes of the offense looking stale, appearing as though the accomplished head coach is unable to keep up with the ever-changing style of the NFL.

That looks to be a significant cause for Mac Jones' regression over the last two seasons, as Belichick has chosen to pass on drafting game-changing offensive weapons or sign them during free agency.

Much of that is the basis for a successful offense, even more so when you have a young quarterback needing proper development, and you're in a division that has become arguably the best and most competitive in the entire league.

His refusal to dish out expensive contracts over the years can be viewed with multiple lenses; some deem it to be genius because he was able to put together several championship-winning teams, while others believe his penny-pinching has harmed the team more than it's been beneficial, particularly since Jones became the quarterback.

No matter how you view it, it's difficult to argue that it's not negatively impacting the team this season, as they are staring down a 1-4 record heading into Week 6 with the head coach and quarterback's job rumored to be on the line.

Because Belichick's decision-making and roster building has been a front-running topic of conversation over the last few weeks, some Patriots reporters have dug deep into figuring out the inner workings of how the organization determines what players are worthy of drafting or being signed, among several other things.

That's what the Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed did recently, with their latest report detailing many aspects of what's going on behind the scenes in Foxboro this year, with the primary focus being the apparent downfall of Jones since his breakout rookie season.

Within their discussion of how a once-promising young quarterback got to the point of being benched in back-to-back games and now fighting to remain the starter, Callahan and Kyed revealed the underlying reason why the team seems to find themselves making the wrong choice in players more often than getting it right.

"According to a league source, part of (the Patriots') business includes a front office that evaluates players almost entirely without the assistance of analytics. "

It's a troubling revelation, if true, but it explains a lot at the same time.

It has been said since N'Keal Harry was taken in the first round of the 2023 draft that the Patriots selected him not because of what they saw of his performance during his time at ASU but because he impressed them with his pre-draft interview. He wound up being one of the bigger busts of Belichick's career and has since been traded, which seems to validate Callahan and Kyed's source.

That is the draft that remains notorious in New England because of who Belichick passed on in favor of Harry; that list includes A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, D.K. Metcalf, and Deebo Samuel, just to name a few.

Considering how their careers have looked in the years since, it will likely forever live in infamy as one of the biggest "what if?" drafts in Patriots' history, even more so knowing the following season was Tom Brady's last as a member of the Patriots.

They further broke down what was shared with them by mentioning Belichick's need for convincing to sign JuJu Smith-Schuster over Jakobi Meyers this past offseason, which has been proven to be a poor decision.

The Patriots receiving corps has been the worst in the NFL in gaining separation from defenders while also ranking last in EPA (expected points added). That's just the latest bad news surrounding the pass-catchers since it has been widely known that DeVante Parker is primarily used for 50/50 balls but is one of the worst in the league at creating separation, which has led to multiple interceptions by Jones when throwing Parker's way.

Most of this information is widely available to anyone with access to the internet on websites like Pro Football Focus and NextGenStats. But, as Callahan and Kyed claim, the Patriots' staff are not using the readily available data as part of their evaluation process.

Although that cannot be the sole reason why they find themselves in their current situation, as there are many explanations for that, the importance of proper roster building and not relying on Brady to make up for the inefficiencies of the offense is proving to be the common denominator for almost all the problems they are dealing with.