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Patriots Bye Week: Midseason Takeaways

The Patriots head into their bye week with a record of 2-8. The last time this happened was the 2000 season where they finished 5-11. On the bright side of things, New England won the Superbowl the following year (2001), so maybe something to look forward to? With that being said, let's take a look at the pros (surprisingly some) and the cons of the 2023 season this far.


Pros:


Demario Douglas:

As bad as this offense is, the 6th round rookie has made a splash. Douglas has made the most of his opportunities in his limited role. The first five games of the season, he wasn't a main focus point for the Patriots, but since Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills, they have incorporated him as the go to guy. In the last four games since being used correctly, he's totaled 238 yards and 20 receptions. He is coming off his best game against the Colts last week, posting a stat line of 6 receptions (9 targets) for 84 yards. With Kendrick Bourne out for the year, look for the rookie to shine the rest of the way.


Mike Onwenu:

Another 6th round pick who is one of the few bright spots on this team. The offensive line hasn't been as good as past years, but Onwenu has been their best overall player on this 2023 roster. He has been very consistent even with being moved from guard to tackle. In the 440 snaps he has played, he has only allowed one sack, and has only been flagged 4 times. Bill Belichick has stated that Mike will finish the year off at right tackle, which is where he has played his best football this year. He should be a staple of this offensive line that the Patriots need to key in on signing. If they don't re-sign him, he's going to get a big pay day from another team in 2024.


Jabrill Peppers:

Every time the Patriots make a great play on defense, Jabrill Peppers always seems to be involved in the play. This was surprising because Peppers only started 5 games for New England last year. The safety has one interception, six passes defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 4 tackles for loss. His stats don't speak to his importance of the team, but he definitely has played a valuable role in this defense. Jabrill brings the energy every game and lays some mean hits along the way. One of the only players in this secondary who can tackle with a purpose. Peppers is a free agent in 2025, so extending him next year is something the Patriots should heavily consider.


Cons:


Mac Jones:

Let's get the easy one out of the way here. Mac Jones has been flat out awful. There's really no other way to sugar coat it. After his rookie year I thought there would be something to look forward to. I thought the same thing as everyone else, "he just needs a real offensive coordinator". Well, that thought was proved wrong in every way possible this year. They got a "real" offensive coordinator in Bill O'Brien and Mac disappointed. He ranks 19th in passing yards (2031), 35th in yards per attempt (6.3), 21st in touchdowns (10), and has the 2nd most interceptions (10). He has had many chances to go and win games and has failed to deliver time after time. His most recent chance came last week against the Colts. The Patriots drove all the way down the field trailing 10-6 with 4 minutes left. They get into the redzone, and Mac throws one of the worst balls of all time, right to a Colts defender. He's lost the locker room and might not start a game the rest of the year. Conclusively, he should not be a part of the team next year.


Chad Ryland:

The worst decision the Patriots made this offseason was getting rid of Nick Folk. He had been so consistent for them, but due to his age (39), they decided to go the younger route and go with their rookie kicker Chad Ryland who's 24 years old. Ryland is 12-17 on field goals this season (70%). That is not going to cut it in the NFL. He also struggles from range. He is 3-3 from 20-29 yards, but 9-14 from 30+ yards. This affects the Patriots tremendously because they don't have a good offense already, so when they get to a 4th and short situation near the 30-40 yard line, they end up leaving the offense on the field. Not being able to trust your kicker, is not something any team can win meaningful games with. New England needs to look at the free agent market next year for a kicker with experience.


JuJu Smith-Schuster:

Last season JuJu had a very solid year posting a stat line of 78 receptions, 933 yards, and 3 touchdowns. This season he has a very disappointing stat line of 22 catches for 149 yards, and 1 touchdown. The Patriots had the choice to re-sign Jakobi Meyers, but they let him walk to the Raiders for a 3-year, $33 million deal. The funny part is, they signed JuJu to the same exact deal that Meyers was just given, and he has heavily underperformed compared to him. For the price New England paid, you can make a case that this was one of their worst moves in recent free agency.


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