Surprising player is named Patriots x-factor for 2024 season

New England Patriots OTA Offseason Workout
New England Patriots OTA Offseason Workout / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

When looking at the Patriots 2024 roster and predicting how their season will go, the assumption is the offense will continue to be a work in progress while the defense will remain the superior unit, likely leading them to more wins.

Matthew Judon will retake his status as the star pass rusher, Christian Gonzalez will return to the field and pick up where he left off as a rookie, and Kyle Dugger will return to his previous form with a new contract in hand.

The offense isn't so easy to predict, though. At this moment, Jerod Mayo and Alex Van Pelt have made it clear that Jacoby Brissett will be the starter, and Drake Maye will potentially take over sometime during the season.

We've seen glimpses of impressive play from rookie receivers Javon Baker and Ja'Lynn Polk, which has given us a bit of excitement about what the offense could become, but neither is considered a needle mover despite their explosive playstyle.

With questions remaining surrounding the rest of the offensive roster and many fans wanting to see Maye be the starter immediately, there are concerns about how much better this season will be than last, especially since the roster isn't dramatically different.

But Pro Football Focus believes the new regime added an x-factor to the team in free agency, and who that player is might shock you.

PFF names Jacoby Brissett as the Patriots x-factor for the 2024 season

Because New England held the third overall pick in the 2024 Draft, we knew they would select a new franchise quarterback. So when they signed veteran quarterback Brissett in free agency, he was clearly brought in as a veteran bridge player and mentor.

Although his return to the team didn't yield much excitement, PFF believes he will have a bigger impact on the offense's success than many want to give him credit for. They feel he was put in the right situation at the right time, especially reuniting with the offensive coordinator he saw the most success with in his career.

"While Brissett has largely been an NFL backup, he has had starting opportunities with varying degrees of success. His best performance came with the Browns in 2022 when he kept the team competitive while awaiting the end of Deshaun Watson’s suspension. Across 786 snaps that year, Brissett posted an 82.6 PFF grade, which included an elite 91.5 rushing grade as a runner.

There is perhaps no better bridge quarterback in football for Drake Maye to learn from than Brissett, and if he has the same type of success under offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt that he did in Cleveland, the Patriots could surprise some people."

It's hard to disagree with anything Jim Wyman and Dalton Wasserman wrote, and hopefully, their prediction is spot on.

Starting Brissett over Maye might not be a popular decision, but his relationship and trust with Alex Van Pelt are significant. The Patriots are not going to be a contender this year, so why not put the veteran in to work with the young team to instill some continuity?

Although Maye was drafted to be the guy for the Patriots at some point, throwing him in before he's ready would be a mistake, even more so during a challenging 2024 schedule. Mayo needs to avoid replicating the mistakes made with Mac Jones as much as possible, and starting Maye just because he's being pressured would set the team back far more than just utilizing Brissett.

The ideal scenario is for the veteran to keep the team afloat while mentoring Maye and getting the young players comfortable in their transition to the NFL. Maye being given more time to develop and learn will benefit him in the long term, so when he does take over, the team is in a better position, and so is the quarterback.

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