The New England Patriots’ success over the last couple of decades explains why many Canadians have chosen to follow them in the American football league. However, the 2022/23 campaign was a disappointing one for New England. Here are some areas the Patriots need to improve in if they want to be successful in the 2023/24 season. Quarterback The New England Patriots used three quarterbacks across the 2022/23 campaign. Former first-round pick Mac Jones played most of the games, starting 14 of the 17 matches. His record in the team was 6-8, which leaves him fighting for the starting role.
Bill Belichick has refused to commit to Jones being the starter in week one next season. The Patriots’ head coach may look at who is available in free agency or via a trade before he makes that call. With former star QB Tom Brady likely to be on the market, Jones is in danger of being demoted from his position.
If Jones does remain in New England, he will need a better performance than what he has produced so far. In his rookie campaign, he finished the year with a respectable 10-7 record. He also threw for 3,801 yards and had 22 touchdowns. Those figures are respectable, however, if the Patriots are to become Super Bowl contenders once again, they require the same level Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are producing for their respective franchises.
Back-up QB Bailey Zappe showed glimpses of promise during his spell in the team in 2022. However, he did his chances of earning the starting position full-time a lot of damage when he threw two interceptions in the Patriots’ week seven defeat to the Chicago Bears.
Better Record against AFC East Rivals
The Patriots have been able to dominate the AFC East over the last 10 years partly thanks to their record over their AFC East rivals. The Patriots were 3-3 against those teams in 2022, which must improve if they are to top the standings.
The Buffalo Bills had the best record in the AFC East with a 13-3 record. They won four of their six matches against their divisional rivals. Sean McDermott’s side was able to bag the number two seed in the AFC Championship and after landing one of the top seeds, they have Super Bowl odds of +400. Only the Kansas City Chiefs are ahead of them in the betting for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The sort of consistency the Bills have shown in 2022 is what Belichick’s team will require next season to challenge the leading teams in the league. New England is unfortunate to be in one of the strongest divisions in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have also made big progress this season and both are likely to be a threat in 2023.
The Patriots were ranked 24th in the league in rushing yards in 2022. For a team that has been known for being effective in running the ball, Belichick will be very disappointed by that number. Their inefficiency in rushing has added more pressure on their quarterback to win the game with their arm.
New England shared the yards between Kevin Harris, Ty Montgomery, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Pierre Strong Jr. last season. Although some of those players showed signs of being a big force in the league, the team lacked a player who could stay fit and prove consistent in the position.
Belichick and the offensive coaching team may need to rethink how they rush the ball. They will take confidence from the effective way in which their plan worked against the Arizona Cardinals in their week 14 success.
The 2023/24 NFL season begins on September 7 when the Super Bowl champions will be in action in the NFL Kickoff Game.
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