Three more x-factors for the New England Patriots in 2023

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders / Chris Unger/GettyImages

With minicamp in the past, the Patriots have entered their summer break before they begin training camp.

Some players took advantage of minicamp and caught both the coaches and media's eye for all the right reasons. Some of those players could end up being the reason why the Patriots succeed this upcoming season.

Who could be an x-factor for the upcoming season?

1. Special Teams Unit

Last season, the Patriots had many special teams blunders, from horrifically bad punting all season long to bad tackling and lack of awareness against the Bills in the season finale when running back Nyheim Hines ran two kick returns for touchdowns.

The Patriots made adjustments in hopes of improving one of their Achilles heels in having Joe Judge mainly focus on special teams. Yes, the same Joe Judge that had a shared responsibility for the nearly weekly offensive implosion of the field.

On top of that, the Patriots drafted both a kicker and a punter back in April.

Chad Ryland and Bryce Baringer will be breaths of fresh air for everyone to watch. Of course, with this being most likely Matthew Slater's final season in the NFL, he's going to want to go out with a bang and leave the special team's unit in good shape.

The special team's unit will be a leading cause in making or breaking the Patriots' season.

2. Mike Gesicki

On paper, Mike Gesicki is an upgrade from Jonnu Smith, who the Patriots traded to the Atlanta Falcons earlier this offseason.

While with the Miami Dolphins, Gesicki showed his impeccable set of hands with many one-handed and other highlight reel-worthy catches.

The Patriots haven't had a successful two-tight-end set since the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez era in the early 2010s.

The addition of Mike Gesicki in Jonnu Smith's place opens the potential for him and Hunter Henry to be the next dynamic duo for the team. Hunter Henry was dominant in Mac Jones' rookie year before taking a dive last season.

Gesicki's presence on the field will create opportunities for Henry especially, as he will attract defenders, especially in the red zone where Henry was dominant during the 2021 season.

Bill O'Brien is going to torture opposing defenses with this two-tight end set. Gesicki and Henry should see a lot of crossing routes in the O'Brien offense.

Fans should also expect to see the Gesicki highlight reel catches too. It wouldn't be surprising if Henry serves as a security blanket and Gesicki goes out for deeper passes. Of course, too, Gesicki can block on the line.

3. Rhamondre Stevenson

It's year three for Rhamondre Stevenson. However, this is his first full season as the expected starting running back.

So far, Stevenson has been dominant in his short career in New England.

With a proper offensive coordinator, Stevenson should elevate his game to the next level.

The Patriots like to utilize their running backs with their pass-catching abilities. The last true pass-catching running back the Patriots had was James White. Although Rhamondre Stevenson is not necessarily a pass-catching back, Bill O'Brien will have Stevenson catch more to go along with his downhill running.

The Patriots' offense will thrive if Rhamondre Stevenson has another dominant year that includes over one thousand yards rushing.