Patriots have an unexpected breakout star on offense this season

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots / Kathryn Riley/GettyImages

Throughout the offseason, there was a lot of talk about what the Patriots roster would look like. Once it was finalized, assumptions began to be made regarding who would be the most prominent figures on both sides of the ball, even though there wasn't much excitement surrounding those who made the team.

There was a heavy focus on the offense since it had been the weaker part of the team during the 2022 season, and because JuJu Smith-Schuster was signed, most believed he would be the breakout star for Mac Jones.

Even though there were more concerns about the health of the wide receiver than optimism that he would be the rightful replacement for Jakobi Meyers, it seemed like the belief that he would transform into what the Patriots needed more so stemmed from hope than anything else, especially since most fans and media members were appalled by Bill Belichick's decision to let Meyers sign elsewhere.

The most excitement seemed to come from the addition of Mike Gesicki, the former Dolphins' tight end, who presumably was set to be used as a jumbo wide receiver. Because the Jonnu Smith experiment never quite worked, most were encouraged he would be a better complement to Hunter Henry, mainly because of his connection with new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.

Rookie receivers dominated the summer, looking more promising than expected, and became the highlights of the team, with most of that shining on Demario Douglas. Since the start of the season, he's proven to be one of the best players on the offense despite fellow sixth-rounder Kayshon Boutte receiving the most hype leading up to Week 1.

Joining Douglas as the stars through the first seven games of the season has been a complete under-the-radar addition to the roster, veteran tight end Pharaoh Brown. The 29-year-old journeyman has not been given many opportunities during his six years in the NFL, but with the chaotic season unfolding in Foxboro, he has morphed into the most unlikely hero of the offense.

Because guys like Gesicki and Smith-Schuster have had slower starts than anticipated, Brown has climbed near the top of most consistent contributors for Jones to turn to.

That was made apparent in Week 3 when the Patriots visited the Jets. Brown caught two receptions on two targets for 71 yards and an impressive touchdown. The score came in the second quarter, in another game that started slowly. The Patriots needed a score to get a comfortable lead, which they had not accomplished yet during the prior two games.

Jones threw to a wide-open Brown, who took the football 58 yards into the end zone. It was a significant play for the team and a career record for the tight end, whose previous longest reception was for 30 yards. On top of that, it was Brown's first touchdown since the 2020 season when he was part of the Houston Texans.

We didn't see Brown involved much again until Week 6 when he recorded one reception for 15 yards. It was another poor outing for New England, who badly needed a win against a beatable Las Vegas Raiders. But it became just the latest disappointing loss of the season.

Fortunately, that luck changed a week later, and Brown was utilized more against the Bills. Although he only caught two receptions for 51 yards, one went for 26 yards, giving the team a fresh set of downs on Buffalo's side of the field.

It may not have been a score or a game-changing play, but it was the first play of a drive that ended in another touchdown, increasing the Patriots' lead to 12 points in the fourth quarter.

It has been a pleasant surprise to see Brown become somewhat of a secret weapon for the offense when they need a big play. He's impressed so far and is on pace to have the best season of his career, as he's just 34 yards shy of breaking his season high, which occurred during the 2021 season.

He's become a more integral piece than Smith-Schuster and has recorded just seven fewer yards than DeVante Parker this season.

As they continue to (hopefully) stack some more wins through the next ten games, it would be essential to prioritize Brown to some degree, and he could likely become one of the best and most unexpected parts of the offense this season.