With multiple NFL teams kicking off training camp at the end of last week, the New England Patriots are one of the teams starting a little later. On Wednesday, July 26th, the Patriots will start their journey officially for the 2023-24 season.
The Patriots will have ample time to configure their roster, but many questions heading into the season. How will the offense look under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien? How will the Patriots utilize their young talent on defense? Will the Patriots have enough weapons on offense to compete in a highly competitive AFC East? Will the Patriots have a chance of being a playoff team in the AFC? These questions will be answered over the coming weeks and months, but there is one thing for sure. The Patriots are back!
Bill O’Brien Looks To Create a Stable Offense
With this being the third offensive coordinator in Mac Jones’ short NFL career, the Patriots need to develop some consistency on offense with Jones. As Bill O’Brien implements his offense with everyone, the style should be familiar to Jones. O’Brien is employing many of the same tactics that he used at Alabama. Although Jones missed O’Brien by a year in Tuscaloosa, it is almost identical to Steve Sarkisian’s Alabama offense, which Jones thrived in.
📺Full Video: https://t.co/sLGeCpu5UK
— Patriots on CLNS (@PatriotsCLNS) July 21, 2023
Bailey Zappe will surely test Mac Jones in training camp for the starting position, but from all accounts, during the offseason program, Mac Jones looks to be penciled in as QB1. Jones will look to improve on what can be described accurately as a sophomore slump last year. Jones will have the opportunity to prove his worth in camp and should be better adjusted to run O’Brien’s offense.
— The Greg Hill Show (@TheGregHillShow) July 24, 2023
O’Brien is employing some of what he did his first time in New England with the two tight end sets, but there should be more fluidity to the offense this time. With many question marks at the receiver position, the Patriots will look to have contributions from everyone. The Patriots do have dynamic receivers, but they do not have a true game-breaker for sure.
New England Patriots Wide Receivers
One Patriots receiver who looked excellent in OTA’s was Tyquon Thornton. The second-year speedster will look to build on an okay rookie season. Thornton is the player with the highest ceiling and the lowest floor. He can be a difference-maker, or we could see him struggle when we get into the season.
Kendrick Bourne looks to rebound after a down year in 2022. Bourne had the best year of his career in 2021 and followed it up by having the least productive year based on game averages. Bourne is the dark horse to lead this Patriots receiving core this year, and I would not be surprised if he does so.
The real question marks are at the top of the Patriots receiver depth chart. Juju Smith-Shuster and DeVante Parker must step up this year for the Patriots. Smith-Schuster has been productive throughout his NFL career and hopes to continue that trend this year. The only thing standing in the way of that is a sore knee, which kept him out of New England Patriots off-season programs. So that will be a storyline to watch as the Patriots progress in the season.
DeVante Parker needs a solid season for the Patriots to be successful. He signed an extension to keep him a Patriot until 2026, which is nice, but the Patriots have seemed to be missing with their wide receiver acquisitions over the past few years. Outside of Kendrick Bourne’s 2021 year, all their acquisitions post-Brady era have been average to below average. Parker missed some games last year with a concussion. He was hot and cold last year. There were games where he shined, but he seemed average most of the time.
New Look Offensive Line
The offensive line will also, hopefully, provide some level of improvement this year. They struggled last year as Mac Jones sometimes seemed to be running for his life. They got two quarterbacks injured to the point where they missed multiple games and had more penalties from an offensive line group in the league. With additions like Reilly Reif and Calvin Anderson, there seems to be some additional depth, but all the Patriots can hope is that this year the offensive line play improves under new Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. Klemm was an associate head coach last year for the University of Oregon.
Confidence in Trent Brown 📈
Confidence in the rest of the offensive line 📉@GregABedard and @AlbertBreer on the 'trouble spot' that is the Patriots offensive line group entering training camp 👀 pic.twitter.com/wv9ZlEmDQV
— NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Coverage (@NBCSPatriots) July 24, 2023
Player to Watch: Malik Cunningham
A player to watch for on offense is undrafted free agent Malik Cunningham. Cunningham, the former Louisville Cardinal, broke multiple school records set by his predecessor, Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP. He is listed as a quarterback on the Patriots website, but he has been working out at the wide receiver position. Cunningham has unbelievable athleticism. The move could pay out for Cunningham moving to receiver. Although, the Patriots could implement some offensive packages where he could be behind center. The Patriots gave him the most guaranteed money ever to an undrafted free agent.
Practices for the New England Patriots will run all week from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. Gates open to the public at 8:00 AM.
Main Photo Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports