Bill O'Brien and a very unknown offense
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said this week that one advantage they have heading into this game is a first-year staff unknown to the rest of the league. Teams will struggle with that as they prepare for their matchup with the Eagles, but there are unknowns on the Patriots' side as well.
The biggest one of them all will be Bill O'Brien.
Although he's not new to the NFL or the Patriots, he has been out of the league since the end of the 2020 season. His last stint was spent as the head coach of the Houston Texans from 2014-2020, and he hasn't worked for the Patriots since the 2011 season.
That plays in the Patriots' favor and could become a valuable aspect of their offense throughout the season. Teams will prepare for what they think O'Brien will draw up since they can look at his time in Houston and even when he was the Patriots' offensive coordinator. Or even look at how he worked at the University of Alabama to get some inspiration for what he may use come game day.
But this isn't 2011 O'Brien anymore, and this is most definitely not the Tom Brady-led Patriots, either.
Not only will O'Brien's plans be tricky to prepare for, but so will most of the New England offense. The only constants on the team this year, outside of the offensive line, are Mac Jones and Rhamondre Stevenson. Other than them, there's not much to go off of for the rest of the offensive players.
With the likes of newbies Ezekiel Elliott and Mike Gesicki, combined with the hopeful resurgences of Kendrick Bourne and Hunter Henry, plus the rookie receivers Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas, how will a team know what to prepare for, particularly early on in the season?
Most of them were limited in the preseason, if they were used at all, leaving little tape for opponents to use. How O'Brien will deploy the offense is unknown at this point, which is exactly what the Patriots need heading into this bout.